Symfony or Laravel – which PHP framework should you use? Which of these great frameworks is the right choice for you and your project?

Even though there are numerous PHP frameworks available on the market, the truth is that Symfony and Laravel remain the most frequently used ones. There are numerous reasons why they remain so popular, and they range from excellent code organization to allowing developers to create exquisite apps. 

But which of these will be a better fit for your project? How to make the right decision?

In order to help you choose the right PHP framework for your next project, we compared Symfony and Laravel, and here is what we discovered.

Historical overview

Symfony was originally released in 2005 and the latest stable release is 5.1.3, while Laravel was released in 2011 and the latest long term release (LTS) is 6. Both of  these latest releases are from either 2019 or 2020, and as you can see, both Symfony and Laravel teams have been working hard on developing fresh and better versions of these frameworks for years now.

When it comes to the teams that created these frameworks, Symfony was created by the team working at SensioLabs, a French company, while Laravel was created by Taylor Otwell. But what is particularly interesting about these two rivals is that Laravel actually built using Symfony components (such as Cache, Console, Process, Routing, etc.). Fun fact, isn’t it?

Popularity and community

Even though popularity is not something that you should base your decision on, there are several things you should consider. At the moment, Laravel is more popular than Symfony. But these results vary a lot when you take a look at different countries. For example, according to Google Trends, in France, people search Symfony two times more than Laravel. But in the UK, the results are completely opposite.

So, even though popularity is something to take into consideration, it is not the most important part definitely. What you should pay attention to is the size of their community. Luckily, both communities are vibrant and large, meaning that there will be enough support and documentation for the team working on a project, which is always a bonus.

Another interesting fact supporting the popularity of these PHP frameworks is the number of contributors. GitHub defines a contributor as someone from the outside (not a member of the core development team of the project) that wants to contribute some changes to a project. This means that Symfony has over 2,500 contributors, while Laravel has over 500 contributors.

Performance

In previous releases, Laravel performed much better than Symfony. However, thanks to the latest releases, Symfony improved a lot and Laravel doesn’t have any kind of advantage in that area.

One thing that may be useful to know regarding performance (especially when you already have a PHP project in mind) is the average loading time. Symfony has a slower loading time than Laravel, but these numbers aren’t that drastic by any means. This is because Laravel provides a unified API for various caching backends, while Symfony caches source code and views by default. This is the reason why Symfony has a longer website loading time.

What this also means is that Laravel enables higher performance. This makes Laravel more suitable for projects that need faster delivery. On the other hand, Symfony becomes more suitable for building complex apps that require more development time.

So, if you want faster results – choose Laravel. If you want a complex app that requires a bit more time to complete – choose Symfony.

Scalability

Scalability is another important factor to consider when deciding whether you should choose Symfony or Laravel. Luckily for you, both of these PHP frameworks have numerous scalability options.

Symfony is often the preferred choice for all projects that need scaling along the way. This is because it contains reusable components that offer more modularity when building an app. These bundles are what allows developers to perform quick changes during the development process.

Laravel offers less options and developers are a bit restricted when they want to perform a quick change. So when they want to implement changes to the app modules, developers will not deal with just that module, but instead with the entire unit of code. 

All of this once again confirms that Symfony is a better choice for complex apps that will be developed over time, while Laravel is more suitable for rapid app development.

The final verdict – Symfony or Laravel

Since Symfony and Laravel are so similar when it comes to performance, scalability and community, it is hard to make a decision and choose either Symfony or Laravel. They are both excellent PHP frameworks, loved and used by many developers all around the world.

But since you have to choose just one, here is how you can do it.

If you want to create an app fast and you want to be able to customise it to suit your business needs, the right PHP framework for you will be Laravel.

If you want to create a robust app, one that is complex and contains many features you intend on implementing in several stages (for example social network development), Symfony is the right choice for you.

And that’s it. 

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