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Zend vs Symfony: Our Take on Frameworks

Zend vs Symfony: Our Take on Frameworks

A web development framework facilitates in improving the performance and efficiency of a website development activity. Web development frameworks are available in abundance with new ones appearing at a rate beyond comprehension, but deciding on a framework to develop sizzling web applications is much more difficult than developing the application.

With over 12 years of web development experience under our belt, we have delivered some very cool web applications which were developed on a number of different frameworks. So in this article, we will compare two frameworks that we find too irresistible (Symfony and Zend Framework) which are currently the most popular and largely used PHP development frameworks globally.

Open source frameworks have been a milestone in providing free, customizable and economical platforms for application development. Both Zend and Symfony are open source frameworks, with all the inherent benefits of this universal model. With incessant research and development, these two have gained recognition as the next generation web development frameworks.

Both are decoupled and component-based and they use almost the same naming, coding and autoloading conventions. According to, Symfony is preferred by 53% and Zend by 47% of developers worldwide. So, here we share our experiences and we hope that by the end of this article you will be able to understand the differences and similarities between these two powerful and competent frameworks.

Sponsors and Partners

On the one hand, Zend is backed by Zend Technologies and this is its corporate sponsor. Its valued partners, including Google, Microsoft, Adobe and IBM, have further accentuated its popularity. Symfony, on the other hand, is sponsored by a French Company called SensioLabs. It offers a full range of innovative products, professional solutions, and pre-packaged or custom-made services.


Both are PHP based open source frameworks. Zend is licensed under the flexible BSD License and Symfony was released under the MIT License.


Zend’s modularity, loosely coupled components and advanced Model View Controller (MVC) helps to develop high-quality enterprise web applications. The flexibility of Symfony is based on the object-relational-mapping (ORM) model. For coding, it offers YAML, PHP, and XML.


Zend has a huge library of built-in code snippets to support searching, handling data, sending emails, caching and more in web applications. Symfony has an equally proficient, basic library along with very supportive and elaborate documentation to find solutions for many of your development issues.


Zend allows configuration and a flexible selection of the architecture for web applications. Symfony’s robust and huge stock of user-contributed plugins allows rapid enterprise application development. However, Symfony restricts transition of your application to other architecture, as dependence on Symfony is hard to break. Certain functionalities, such as PDF generation and Lucene-based search, are not available in Symfony and can be called here even in the absence of a complete Zend framework.


The Zend Server Cluster Manager provides excellent scaling flexibility while Symfony offers bundles which can be reused to make frameworks highly flexible and expandable, a perfect solution to give scalability for your business applications.

Upgrade and Community Support

Zend gives assistance to multiple additional open source projects by providing support and development resources. With millions of contributors and users contributing code, tests and documentation, there will always be support. Symfony provides regularly released updates and newer versions with enhancements. It has an active development and support community in addition to the very detailed documentation. Moreover, the upgrading process is very easy with well-documented version changes.


Zend contains cryptographic and secure coding components under ZendCrypt for password management, cryptographic key generation, handling symmetric and asymmetric ciphers and many other options. Symfony comes with facilities for authenticating using HTTP basic or digest authentication, interactive form login, and X.509 certificate login. The security component offers ways to authorize authenticated users based on their roles and it contains an advanced ACL system. Here is a list of more features to compare these two frameworks (Source: Wikipedia): Symfony Vs. Zend Comparision chart 


Your real struggle is carving out high-end, elegant and secure web applications to give you an edge over your competitors. If you have a framework which provides built-in elements and coding snippets to do the routine and repetitive tasks in a jiffy, it will save you a lot of time, so you can spend your efforts, energy and time in devising rich features or implementing better functionality to give an excellent user experience.

Both of these frameworks give you all these benefits. Our recommendation is that you should not to stick to a single framework. You can combine features of more than one framework which is quite possible at the moment, because, even though they come from different vendors, they follow common standards of development. If you ask our verdict, we will go for Symfony.

Ever since we used Symfony, we just loved its modular structure, easy routing, bundles, library, fast and annotation based coding, full control over the configuration feature, compatibility with almost all RDBMS and excellent documentation.

However, it may change based on your requirements. This is the reason why we always suggest our clients opt for the one that will address their requirements well and do not choose based on other’s preferences. And if any issues arise, we are always available for support, so what is there left to worry about? So which is your favorite framework and why? Please share your experiences below and thanks for reading!  

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