Web development is a vast topic with tons of libraries, frameworks, and other tools. Today it is quite confusing to choose a framework that suits all your needs.
Moreover, having too many languages to choose from makes it even more confusing. If you can decide on a language first rather than finding out the proper framework, it helps a lot.
Having a language selected beforehand narrows down your choices, and you have to find the most optimum framework from that smaller set which can be a little easier.
If you are here, you’ve already decided to work with PHP, and you’ve also ranked the frameworks that you plan to use.
PHP has multiple frameworks like Symfony, Laravel, CodeIgniter, Yii, F3, etc., and each of them is unique. As we advance in this article, we will focus on the Symfony framework today and find out everything about it.
So let’s get started with a brief overview of PHP as a language.
What is PHP, and what are PHP Frameworks?
PHP is a scripting language developed by Rasmus Lerdorf and aimed at web development. PHP enables you to write scripts that run on the server and power dynamic or static web applications.
All PHP files end with the .php extension and contain codes from HTML, CSS, JS, and PHP language. With this language, you can write entire backends for your web apps and connect them to databases to store and retrieve data.
There are many places where this framework is used, and it also has broad community support.
No one today wants to reinvent the wheel and write everything from scratch for their web applications, and that’s where frameworks step in.
Frameworks are a pre-bundled set of libraries and modules that eliminate your need to code everything from scratch. This speeds up your development time and gives you a lot of features in-built so you can focus more on the essential things.
Using frameworks brings extraordinary security measures because they are tried and tested in the wild by thousands of projects and developers.
Moreover, updates are constantly coming in, and you will get the latest security patches and features ready to use at every update.
PHP has a large and helpful community that believes in developing newer frameworks, and this has led to a whole array of frameworks for the language. Some of those prominent frameworks are Symfony, Laravel, CodeIgniter, and Yii.
Why use Frameworks in web development?
Having known what frameworks are, let’s also find out why you should use a framework in your web app development process.
Saves significant time
One of the most prominent reasons to use frameworks is that they help you save significant time.
Frameworks come with many things in them, like middleware, security constraints, error handling, etc., and this helps you to build apps over and above these features.
As you don’t have to reinvent the wheel, you can save significant time in the development of your web applications.
Frameworks are highly customizable, and you can add or remove any feature you need.
Suppose you are using a MySQL database in one app, and you want to use another database like PostgreSQL in another application; you can use it easily.
You just have to make some fundamental changes in the code, and your app will support the new database you need. Moreover, you can even carry on the existing code with some simpler modifications.
Because the framework handles security, developers may be confident that their applications are secure. This is another significant benefit of adopting a framework for web development.
As a developer, you should not have to worry about hackers breaking your software. A framework gives you a sense of security and well-being.
Scalable and fast
Frameworks are made with scalability in the center. Every component of a framework is scalable, and you can build apps for a user base of 1000 or 1 lakh customers from the framework on the same code.
Moreover, frameworks are optimized code bundles, and using them makes sure that your code runs faster every time it is executed.
Frameworks often have fantastic community support.
Communities of users and developers from around web frameworks to share ideas and capture expertise. These communities are ready to help everyone who is in trouble with the framework, and they also build better plugins for the framework.
After understanding why you should use a framework, you’d be eager to know about Symfony, so let’s dive in and uncover the Symfony framework.
What is Symfony?
Symfony is a PHP-based framework built by Fabien Potencier. It is an open-source framework, so you can download and use it in your web app development without any monetary investment. It was first released in 2005, and an updated version was released in 2011, which was called Symfony 2.
The first version was based on different principles, and the updates from version 2 were based on different approaches and principles.
Components of Symfony Framework
Symfony’s main aim is to reduce code development times and make things easier for developers working on enterprise projects.
The framework has different components, and it is important to have a look at them before we dive into the reasons to choose Symfony over other frameworks.
The routing component is one of the most important components in web app frameworks. It helps you to define routes for your web applications without doing much work.
Symfony’s routing component provides a way to invoke controller actions whenever a request for a specific resource/route is received in your app.
This component provides configurations that specify what code block to run when a URL is requested from a client.
As the name suggests, the workflow component is used in specifying and configuring workflows in your Symfony application. A workflow is a predefined set of processes that an object should pass through in its lifecycle.
Each step defined in the workflow component is called a place. It is possible to define transitions that specify the actions to be performed for movement from one place to another in the life cycle.
The DependencyInjection component in Symfony is tasked with the responsibility of dependency injection in the app. It implements a PSR-11 compatible service container, allowing you to centrally define how elements and objects are constructed in your Symfony web application.
As the name suggests, the Event Dispatcher component is connected to events. It provides a way to listen and dispatch events between different components of your application. It is due to this component that your application can communicate internally based on the events that are generated on run-time.
Symfony’s event Dispatcher component uses Mediator and Observer design patterns to achieve its task.
Converting objects into different formats is quite common, and with Symfony, there’s no need to go for any other library. It has an in-built serializer component that helps you to convert objects into multiple formats like JSON, XML, YAML, etc.
Having forms is the typical way of getting input from users and storing it in the database. Symfony has that sorted with its Form component. This component allows you to develop forms that can help users modify and add data to your application’s database.
Reasons to choose Symfony over other technologies
After knowing the different components of Symfony, now is the perfect time to explore the reasons to choose Symfony over other technologies for web development.
Credibility and community
Symfony is a credible and authentic framework with a fantastic community behind it.
Since its first release in 2005, the framework has received regular feature updates, and there are security updates that keep on coming as and when security bugs are found and patched.
It is so good that it is already being used in Drupal, Magento, PHPBB, etc. It is highly reliable and has been used in large production applications at organizations like TED, National Geographic, etc., and still, it never has faced any significant issues. It has some features that slim down app development time significantly, and that makes it a lovely choice for developers.
The community is also excellent, and there are experts who can help you with all your doubts on programming forums on the internet.
Moreover, excellent documentation and plenty of self-help materials make it more credible to use in production apps of all sizes.
Better MVC architecture
Model-view-controller is the most famous web development architecture, and Symfony extends it pretty well. By using Symfony, you can create scalable apps easily by following the in-built MVC architecture.
In Symfony, you get better customization options, and by using them, you can separate business logic and presentation layers excellently. This separation promotes code modularity which in turn makes maintaining the code base easy for you and also you can hire Symfony developers that can work on your project.
Symfony provides one of the best customization options in the PHP frameworks list. Everything is presented as a bundle, and you can modify it as and when you require.
Moreover, these code bundles can be exported and used in other projects, too, whenever required.
Symfony offers multiple customization options like full-stack customization and brick-by-brick customization.
The first is used to build enterprise applications in Symfony with multiple significant features, while the latter is helpful when you are designing lightweight applications with some specific features.
Symfony offers a high level of flexibility and allows developers to create flexible and scalable apps in no time. With the two powerful parts-bundles and components, Symfony provides unparalleled flexibility in a PHP application.
The bundles are decoupled codebases that can be used anywhere once they are written. This means that you can even copy that code and use it in another project with minimal changes. All this provides flexibility to developers and reduces the development time significantly.
On the other hand, Symfony comes with many in-built components that make your work more accessible, and you also have the option to create your own custom components.
We had seen some of those components above in the components section, but there are 30 such components, and you can explore them when you need them in the framework’s documentation.
These components reduce the need to rewrite the same functionalities in all apps and provide a flexible and effortless way to build Symfony applications.
Every time you create a new functionality in the app, you introduce some possible errors in the app. It is vital to have a bug-free and well-tested application on production servers, and that is where testing helps you.
If you test your applications at different levels, it becomes clear that you will not face any bugs or hacks when the app is live, and users use it.
There is an easy way to do the testing in Symfony; you can add the PHPUnit library and test the end of your application to end pretty quickly. With this library, you can do unit and functional testing of your apps to find out errors early on and tackle them before they become more significant issues.
Symfony has extensive and well-linked documentation.
Having good documentation helps you learn and implement a framework faster. No matter what you are searching for, the framework’s documentation always has something to offer you, and it is quite practical.
You can even get an example on the same page where you read the theory about any feature, and that helps you get started quickly in implementing any feature of this framework.
The documentation is well-structured and indexed, so finding things is effortless. Moreover, the framework’s documentation is well-written and concise, so understanding things will not be hard. There is not much technical jargon, too, so even a beginner can pick up any feature and understand it easily.
There are sections designed for each level of Symfony expertise, and you can dive into the most appropriate level for you.
Also, there’s a complete section on the production usage of Symfony that focuses on performance optimizations, security checks, and all such things to do when you are deploying a Symfony application to production servers.
All these reasons are enough to get you started with using the Symfony framework. Once you deploy a production application with this framework, you’ll naturally find more potential reasons to stick with the Symfony framework for web development.
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Harikrishna Kundariya, is a marketer, developer, IoT, ChatBot & Blockchain savvy, designer, co-founder, Director of eSparkBiz Technologies. His 10+ experience enables him to provide digital solutions to new start-ups based on IoT and ChatBot.