The features provided by PHP frameworks help developers to create custom web applications rapidly according to varying business needs. The web developers can further use open source PHP frameworks to curtail development time significantly without increasing project overheads. But the choice of web framework differs from one developer to another. The usage statistics posted on several websites depict that both Laravel and CodeIgniter are hugely popular among PHP programmers. Thats why Laravel vs CodeIgniter has been one of the favourite discussion topics for PHP developers and enthusiasts.
According to the annual framework popularity survey conducted by SitePoint, Laravel is more popular than CodeIgniter. But the popularity and market share of a web framework do not depict its functionality, performance, and usability accurately. The smart web developers always compare the features, functionalities and performance of various PHP frameworks according to precise needs of each project. Hence, the developers need to understand the important points of distinction between Laravel and CodeIgniter.
Understanding Important Differences between Laravel vs CodeIgniter
Support for PHP 7
As a major release of the server-side programming language, PHP 7 comes with several new features and enhancements. The new features enable programmers to enhance the performance of web applications and reduce memory consumption. Both Laravel and CodeIgniter support version 7 of PHP. But many programmers have highlighted the issues faced by them while developing and testing CodeIgniter applications on PHP 7.
Most developers divide large and complex web applications into a number of small modules to simplify and speedup development process. Laravel is designed with built-in modularity features. It enables developers to divide a project into small modules through bundle. They can further reuse the modules across multiple projects. But CodeIgniter is not designed with built-in modularity features. It requires CodeIgniter developers to create and maintain modules by using Modular Extension additionally.
Support for Databases
Both PHP frameworks support an array of databases including MySQL, PostgreSQL, Microsoft Bi, and MangoDB. But CodeIgniter, unlike Laravel, additionally supports a number of databases including ORACLE, Microsoft SQL Server, IBM DB2, orientdb, and JDBC compatible. Hence, CodeIgniter supports a higher number of databases that Laravel.
Database Scheme Development
Despite supporting many popular databases, CodeIgniter does not provide any specific features to simplify database schema migration. But the database agnostic migrations feature provided by Laravel makes it easier for programmers to modify and share the database schema of the application without writing complex code. The developer can further develop database schema of the application easily by combining the database agnostic migration with the schema builder provided by Laravel.
Unlike CodeIgniter, Laravel enables developers to take advantage of Eloquent ORM. They can use the object reational mapper (ORM) system to work with a variety of databases more efficiently by ActiveRecord implementation. Eloquent ORM further allows users to interact with databases directly through the specific model of individual database tables. They can even use the model to accomplish common tasks like inserting new records and running database queries.
Built-in Template Engine
Laravel comes with a simple but robust template engine like Blade. Blade template engine enables PHP programmers to optimize the performance of the web application by enhancing and manipulating views. But CodeIgniter does not come with a built-in template engine. The developers need to integrate the framework with robust template engines like Smarty to accomplish common tasks and boost the performance of the website.
REST API Development
The RESTful Controllers provided by Laravel enables Laravel developers to build a variety of REST APIs without putting extra time and effort. They can simply set the $restful property as true in the RESTful Controller to build custom REST APIs without writing additional code. But CodeIgniter does not provide any specific features to simplify development of REST APIs. The users have to write additional code to create custom REST APIs while developing web applications with CodeIgniter.
The routing options provided by both PHP frameworks work identically. But the features provided by Laravel enable developers to route requests in a simple yet efficient way. The programmers can take advantage of the routing feature of Laravel to define most routes for a web application n a single file. Each basic Laravel route further accepts a single URI and closure. However, the users still have option to register a route with the capability to respond to multiple HTTP verbs simultaneously.
Most web developers opt for HTTPS protocol to make the application send and receive sensitive information securely. Laravel enables programmers to define custom HTTPs routes. The developers also have option to create a specific URL for each HTTPS route. Laravel further keeps the data transmission secure by adding https:// protocol before the URL automatically. But CodeIgniter does not support HTTPS fully. The programmers have to use URL helpers to keep the data transmission secure by creating pats.
The Authentication Class provided by Laravel makes it easier for developers to implement authentication and authorization. The extensible and customizable class further allows users to keep the web application secure by implementing comprehensive user login and keeping the routes secure with filters. But CodeIgniter does not come with such built-in authentication features. The users are required to authenticate and authorize users by writing custom CodeIgniter extensions.
Laravel scores over other PHP frameworks in the category of unit testing. It enables programmers to check the application code thoroughly and continuously with PHPUnit. In addition to being a widely used unit testing tool, PHPUnit comes with a variety of out-of-box extensions. However, CodeIgniter does not come with any built-in unit testing tools. Hence, programmers have to use additional unit testing tools to assess the quality of application code during the development process.
Unlike Laravel, CodeIgniter has a small footprint. But Laravel provides more features and tools than CodeIgniter. The additional features make Laravel complex. Hence, the beginners have to put extra time and effort to learn all aspects of Laravel, and use it efficiently. The beginners find it easier for learn and use CodeIgniter within a short amount of time.
Both Laravel and CodeIgniter are open source PHP framework. Each framework is also supported by a large community. But many web developers have stated that members of the Laravel community are more active than members of CodeIgniter community. The developers often find it easier to avail online help and prompt solutions while developing web applications with Laravel.
On the whole, the PHP developers can avail a number of additional features by opting for Laravel. But the beginners have to put extra time and effort to learn and use Laravel effectively. The developers still need to evaluate the features of Laravel vs CodeIgniter according to the specific needs of each project to pick the right PHP framework.