Symfony vs Zend

Symfony vs ZendNowadays, enterprises require programmers to write custom web applications in PHP based on complex business requirements. The programmers need robust PHP frameworks to simplify and accelerate development of complex web applications. The features, tools, and utility modules provided by various PHP frameworks help developers to add functionality to a web application and perform common web development tasks without writing longer lines of code. The web developers even have option to choose from several web frameworks for PHP.

The usage statistics posted on various websites depict that Symfony and Zend are hugely popular among PHP programmers. Both PHP frameworks are open source and free. Hence, the PHP developers can use both Symfony and Zend without increasing project overheads. Symfony is designed as a collection of reusable PHP components. As a reusable PHP library, each standalone Symfony component enable developers to complete a specific task. The users have option to choose from over 50 standalone Symfony components according to their precise needs.

On the other hand, by design, Zend is an object-oriented web framework for PHP. It allows developers to complete various web development tasks by choosing from a wide range of professional PHP packages. At the same time, Zend supports MVC architecture. Hence, it becomes easier for developers to build and maintain PHP applications more efficiently by keeping their user interface and business logic layers separated. Hence, it becomes essential for web developers to understand the important differences between Symfony vs Zend to choose the right PHP framework.

Comparing Two Widely Used Web Frameworks for PHP: Symfony vs Zend

Core Design

As noted earlier, Symfony is designed as a collection of reusable and standalone components. The developers can accomplish specific web development tasks by choosing from 50 Symfony components according to their precise needs. The components help developers to reduce development time by completing common web development tasks like implement caching, simulate web browser behaviour, generate URLs, create HTML forms, debug PHP code, and implement authorization. The users can further install these components seamlessly through Composer.

On the other hand, Zend is designed as an object-oriented web framework for PHP. It helps developers to accomplish common web development tasks by providing a wide range of reusable PHP packages. The users can install these packages individually through Composer. The PHP programmers can use specific professional packages to complete web development tasks like implementing an authentication system, creating and rendering barcodes, implementing cache, generating CAPTCHA, debugging PHP code, working with databases, and preventing targeted security attacks.

MVC Architectural Pattern

Zend is designed as a MVC web framework. It simplifies web application development and maintenance by supporting MVC Architecture. The PHP programmers can take advantage of the MVC architectural pattern to divide all components of a web application into models, views, and controllers. Unlike Zend, Symfony does not support MVC architectural pattern. But developers have option to organise Symfony components based on MVC architectural pattern. Hence, developers can use any of the two PHP frameworks to simplify web application development and maintenance.

Working with Databases

Both Symfony and Zend allow developers to work with several widely used relational databases. Zend supports MySQL, PostgreSQL, MS SQL, Oracle, IBM DB2, and DBeaver. At the same time, Symfony supports both relational and non-relational databases. It even provides supports to more databases than other PHP frameworks including Zend. But Zend, unlike Symfony, comes with a built-in object relational mapping (ORM) system. The built-in ORM system helps programmers to work with various databases and perform database operations without writing lengthy SQL queries. Symfony allows web developers to simplify database operations by using a number of popular ORM systems.

Templating Engine

Both Zend and Symfony make it easier for web developers to work with static templates through templating engines. Zend enables developers to work with views through the Zend_View class. The programmers can use Zend_View to keep the view scripts separated from model and controller scripts. Zend_View even allows them to use PHP as the template language or implement other template systems. On the other hand, Symfony PHP programmers to write templates in a robust templating language called Twig. The programmers can use Twig to write readable and concise templates in a number of ways.

Learning Curve

Zend Framework allows programmers to choose from many configuration options. The additional configuration options make Zend more complex than other PHP frameworks including Symfony. Hence, beginners have to put extra time and effort to learn various aspects of Zend clearly. A number of studies even suggest that Zend is much slower than other modern web frameworks. Zend developers have to learn various tips and best practices to make Zend applications run faster. However, the beginners must learn how to configure Symfony to meet specific project requirements.


Each of the two popular PHP frameworks finds extensive use by several large enterprises and projects. At present, Symfony components are being used by Laravel, Drupal, OroCRM, and phpBB. At the same time, Zend Framework is being used by several high-traffic websites across the world including BBC, Cisco Webex, AutoTrack, Allied Beverage, Netretail Holding, and Hence, the PHP web developers can use both Zend and Symfony for building large and complex web applications.

On the whole, both Zend and Symfony are robust and widely used PHP frameworks. Symfony is a collection of reusable PHP components, whereas Zend is a collection of professional PHP packages. Hence, each of these two PHP frameworks has its own pros and cons. Hence, the PHP developers must keep in mind the precise needs of each web development project while comparing Symfony vs Zend Framework.

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