Laravel vs. Symfony: Which Framework is right for your project?
Many web developers choose PHP frameworks because they are reliable and efficient. Although there are several PHP frameworks available, Laravel and Symfony are two of the most popular frameworks.
Both frameworks have pros and cons, so how can you decide which framework is suitable for your project? In this article, we’ll compare Laravel vs. Symfony and help provide some guidance so you can pick the framework that’s right for your project.
What is Laravel?
Laravel is a PHP Framework that aids with creating web apps by combining components from several different frameworks. In fact, Laravel uses several Symfony components. Released in 2011, Laravel is known for its easy-to-use coding style and features that save time during the development process.
Laravel is often used by small- to medium-sized businesses or startups who need to get their product off the ground quickly.
What is Symfony?
Symfony is both an Application Framework and a set of reusable components. Released in 2005, Symfony is a reliable and mature framework with robust components that create a stable foundation for even large-scale projects. Symfony is also highly modular and flexible, allowing developers to customize their applications depending on the needs of each individual project. It is mainly used for complex enterprise projects.
Laravel and Symfony Similarities
Both Laravel and Symfony are open-source PHP frameworks and share many features, including:
- Object Relational Mapping (ORM)
- MVC (Model–View–Controller) Architecture
- Cross-Platform support
- CLI Code Generation
- Multi-user Support
- Internationalization Support
- Template Engines
Laravel and Symfony Differences
While the two frameworks share many similarities, there are also significant differences. We’ll discuss some of the most striking differences between the two frameworks.
According to benchmarking tests conducted by ThinkMobile, the average loading time for websites built using Laravel is around 60 milliseconds, while websites built using Symfony loaded in 250 milliseconds.
Laravel sites load faster because Laravel offers a set of unified APIs for caching views which means the developer can take advantage of faster performance with no extra coding. Symfony can be tweaked to provide faster load times, which takes more time to set up but can be customized to your project.
Symfony shines when it comes to scalability. Symfony’s modular system means that applications can be tailored to each specific project, allowing developers to scale their projects as needed. Laravel projects can be scaled with load balancing and route caching with its Artisan command-line tool. Still, you’ll need to plan your Laravel project carefully if you need to scale it to support an extensive enterprise software system.
Laravel supports five databases:
- MariaDB 10.3+
- MySQL 5.7+
- PostgreSQL 10.0+
- SQLite 3.8.8+
- SQL Server 2017+
With its Doctrine tool, Symfony supports relational databases like MySQL and PostgreSQL and also NoSQL databases like MongoDB.
Both Laravel and Symfony allow for easy data access through the use of object-relational mapping (ORM). Laravel relies on Eloquent, which is based on ActiveRecord, while Symfony uses Doctrine, which follows the DataMapper pattern.
In Eloquent, Models are class extensions that contain all the logic for database access.
Doctrine entities are created as Plain old PHP Objects (POPO). This means that they can be used for various use cases, not just in the ORM context. Because Doctrine uses the DataMapper pattern, database operations can be optimized by queueing them instead of immediately running them.
Both Laravel and Symfony provide support for database scaffolding which creates an Entity Framework model from an existing database.
Both Laravel and Symfony provide a templating engine. A templating engine allows server-side data to populate an application quickly.
Laravel uses Blade, a simple but powerful templating engine. The Blade templating system compiles all templates into basic PHP code, so there is minimal performance impact on your project.
Symfony uses Twig, a fast, secure, and flexible templating engine. Twig allows the developer to define custom tags and filters and create Domain-Specific Languages (DSL).
Symfony offers robust security features, but they must be explicitly defined, which can sometimes be challenging. Laravel offers more basic security features, but these features are generally more than enough to cover most security issues.
Laravel is designed to be easy to learn and use. It provides an intuitive API that makes it easier to get up and running quickly. They also offer extensive documentation and community help via their GitHub.
Symfony is more complex, but its modular design allows developers to choose which components they want to use. This allows for more flexibility but also requires a steeper learning curve. Symfony also provides documentation and community help via GitHub.
Although you shouldn’t solely pick a framework based on its popularity, it's useful to see how others have put these frameworks to work. A more popular framework also means more developers are available to support your project and a larger community from which to seek help.
This chart summarizes the popularity of each framework.
|Number of websites using the framework1||133,610||10,571|
|G2 Rating2||4.5 Stars||4.5 Stars|
Ultimately, the decision of which framework to use will boil down to which framework is best suited for your project. Laravel tends to be the choice of developers who want to develop a web app quickly and easily, while Symfony is used most often by developers who are looking to create large-scale, customized enterprise solutions.
This chart summarizes all the points we’ve discussed in this article.
|Performance (Average Page Load Speed)||60 milliseconds||250 milliseconds|
|Scalability||Modular system allows developers to scale their projects as needed||Scalable with load balancing and route caching|
||Supports relational databases and NoSQL databases|
|Templating Engine||Blade (simple but powerful)||Twig (fast, secure & flexible)|
|Security||Robust security; Must be explicitly defined||Automatic security for most basic use cases|
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