Symfony is one of the most popular PHP frameworks, with users including Yahoo and Drupal. What are the advantages and disadvantages of frameworks? What are the particular strengths of Symfony?

  • What is a PHP Framework?
  • Pros & Cons of a Framework vs. Straight Code
  • Why Symfony? (Developer Perspective)
  • 6 Strategic Arguments for Symfony
  • Symfony in Flight

What Is a PHP Framework?

A PHP framework is a library, a structure through which you can create applications. You can access various APIs (application program interfaces) and figure out how you want to organize your app.

Example PHP frameworks are Zend Framework, CodeIgniter, and Symfony. Determining which of these frameworks is best is fundamentally subjective, notes user Matt on Stack Overflow. He says that he uses Zend but that it has a steep learning curve. He adds that it’s wise to read the instructional materials provided by any framework and to periodically check the code so you understand the system on a more granular level.

Pros & Cons of a Framework vs. Straight Code

What are some advantages and disadvantages of PHP frameworks?

Pros include:

  • It allows you to expedite development by quickly giving you standard fixes for basic challenges that coders face. For instance, if you are building an e-commerce site, the framework will help you build in logins, ordering, and shopping carts.
  • Major aspects of the code are already written, which means that developers don’t have to keep covering the same ground.
  • The code shouldn’t have too many issues: it’s already proven.
  • There is a security advantage, explains user Treb on Stack Overflow. “Specifically for user authentication,” he says, “you will most probably have fewer security leaks as if you invented something from scratch yourself.”

Cons include:

  • If you want to customize, it’s necessary to figure out the dreaded OPC (other people’s code).
  • Any security gaps mean that your app can be attacked, but it’s not your code, so building a patch is confusing. You have to be vigilant about any security announcements.

Why Use Symfony? (Developer Perspective)

Symfony is stable and used broadly by developers in the production of applications and sites. The framework is adaptable, scales easily, and is full-featured, reports Laeeq of Web Revisions. “It has a huge community of Symfony fans committed to take PHP to the next level,” he says. “Symfony has plenty of reusable PHP components that can be used like Security, Templating, Translation, Validator, Form Config and more.”

6 Strategic Arguments for Symfony

Here are the six basic, non-technical reasons that you should choose this PHP framework in particular, according to the Symfony team:


As indicated by Laeeq, Symfony is well-established. First released in 2005, it is a brand now known globally. Plus, there are many developers active in helping each other problem-solve and get the most out of the environment.


Although Symfony is open source (below), it’s a tool that was created by a professional development team at a for-profit company – SensioLabs – to better serve its own customers. The benefit of that is that it is essentially practical, geared toward meeting the needs of business.

Support is also long-lasting. The primary driver behind support is SensioLabs. However, the community, active through channels such as IRC and mailing lists, helps address issues that might otherwise be missed.

Finally, the license for the framework is Open Source MIT. This license makes it possible to build both open source and proprietary apps.


It helps to know that you are in good company. “Hundreds of sites and applications of all sizes and of all types trust Symfony,” according to SensioLabs. “This is specifically the case of Yahoo, Dailymotion,, and even applications such as phpBB and Drupal.”


Symfony is built on a dedication to innovation, and that extends past the boundaries of PHP. If there’s a good idea (for example, Java dependency injection), it is modified to suit PHP. Symfony is also aware of advancements in other frameworks and learns from them to build better functionality, as with the web debug toolbar.


You have various places you can go if you need help. You can get training or consulting services from SensioLabs or tap into the group knowledge of the user community. Documentation is also extensive.


Symfony is by no means intended as a closed system. It is built with customization in mind. First, the framework is built to meet commonly understood PHP standards (eg, class naming guidelines, PHPUnit).

“Furthermore, Symfony also allows you to use certain pieces of its software building blocks … without necessarily using the framework in its entirety,” notes SensioLabs. “Symfony is so interoperable that, at the core, it uses external software building blocks itself.”

Symfony in Flight

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