Key Differences Between Laravel and Symfony Frameworks - Picture №1
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Key Differences Between Laravel and Symfony Frameworks

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In an era of numerous PHP frameworks, developers often face the question: which option to choose for implementing their project? Many have already made their choice and found the most convenient software environment for themselves, but some find it difficult to find an answer. Let's review and compare some functional capabilities of two popular frameworks - Symfony and Laravel.


Short overview of Laravel

Laravel is a popular PHP framework for web application development. One of its key features is its excellent syntax, which allows developers to create high-quality products with ease. It is built on some components of Symfony and uses them as a foundation. This framework offers numerous advantages, such as a convenient router for handling URL requests, a template system (Blade) for creating clean interfaces, Eloquent ORM for easy database operations, a migration system for managing the database, and built-in security features that protect your application from potential threats. We covered Laravel in detail in the article article.


Short overview of Symfony

Symfony is one of the oldest PHP frameworks. First released in 2005, it has served as the foundation for many high-quality PHP projects. Symfony was developed by the French company SensioLabs and is based on principles of modularity, reusability, and extensibility. The core components of Symfony can be used as standalone libraries or as part of the entire framework. Compared to Laravel, Symfony may appear slightly more complex, as it provides more options and configurations.


Comparing Laravel and Symfony frameworks

Installation and configuration

The main files of modern PHP frameworks can be installed using the package manager Composer. For Laravel, you can use the command "composer create-project --prefer-dist laravel/laravel project_name", and for Symfony — "composer create-project symfony/website-skeleton project_name". Replace "project_name" with the name of your project, which will also be used as the directory name where Composer will place it. Both frameworks also provide their installers. For Laravel, it is "laravel new project_name", and for Symfony — "symfony new project_name". To install these installers, you can execute one command line: "composer global require laravel/installer" for Laravel and "wget https://get.symfony.com/cli/installer -O - | bash" for Symfony. This way, the process of installing the basic functionality is minimized and does not require significant developer intervention, saving time when starting new projects.


Both frameworks now support the .env configuration file, which stores key-value pairs. However, in addition to this, Symfony also supports YAML files for configuring routing, services, and more. The YAML format is very convenient to use and allows you to specify the values ​​of configuration parameters in a form that is similar to a multidimensional array.


Routing

The list of application routes and controller bindings can be defined differently in both frameworks. For example, to specify in Laravel that the route "/test" should be handled by the "test" method of the "TestController" controller, you need to indicate in the routing file routes/api.php: Route: get('/test', 'TestController@test')->name('test_name').


For Symfony, the same can be done using YAML files that are responsible for routing or, very conveniently, using annotations:


namespace App\Controller;

use Symfony\Component\HttpFoundation\Response;
use Symfony\Component\Routing\Annotation\Route;

class TestController {

    /**
     * @Route("/test", name="test_name")
     */
    public function test() {
         return new Response('Some test text');
    }}


The usage of controllers has numerous advantages. For instance, in the route path "/test," you can define dynamic parameters like "/test/{id}". In the controller's signature, you need to specify the parameter $id, and its value will be automatically extracted from the path. Additionally, you can set formats for dynamic parameters using regular expressions, for example, ensuring that $id is only an integer. Both frameworks have functional capabilities to group routes and assign prefixes to them. It is also possible to set HTTP methods through which these routes will be accessible. Furthermore, both frameworks provide convenient support for working with GET and POST parameters.


Migrations and ORM: database management in Laravel

Both systems offer a convenient set of console commands for working with project migrations, but the key difference between Laravel and Symfony lies in their approach to handling them. In Laravel, we are required to create migrations ourselves and ensure synchronization between the database structure and PHP classes. For example, a migration code in Laravel may look like this:


Schema::create('tests', function (Blueprint $table) {
   $table->bigIncrements('id'); });


The Test class will look like this:


namespace App;

use Illuminate\Database\Eloquent\Model;

class Test extends Model
{
    protected $table = 'tests';
}


We can see that all models in Laravel inherit the "Model" class. In Symfony, however, migration handling is done through Doctrine ORM. Here, we work solely with PHP classes and annotations. Therefore, the example code for the "Test" class will look like this:


namespace App\Entity;

use Doctrine\ORM\Mapping as ORM;

/**
 * @ORM\Entity()
 */
class Test
{
    /**
     * @ORM\Id
     * @ORM\GeneratedValue
     * @ORM\Column(type="integer")
     */
    private $id;
}


After creating the "Test" entity, we can generate a migration in Symfony, where the framework will automatically create the executable SQL code to create the "tests" table with the "id" column. Moreover, we don't need to meticulously track the synchronization between the database structure and PHP classes since the framework compares the current database structure with the expected structure based on the current PHP classes when creating migrations. It generates all the necessary SQL automatically. It's worth mentioning that both frameworks provide an ORM for database querying. In Laravel, this is handled by Eloquent. So, for example, the code below allows us to retrieve a collection of objects of the "Test" class:


$tests = App\Test::where('id', <, 100)
   ->orderBy('id', 'desc')
               ->take(10)
               ->get();


In Symfony, commonly used code of this type is often extracted into special classes called repositories. The body of the method will have the following form:


$tests = $this->createQueryBuilder('t')
            ->where('t.id <:id')
            ->setParameter('id', 100)
            ->orderBy('t.id', 'DESC')
            ->setMaxResults(10)
            ->getQuery()
            ->execute();


In this case, an array of objects of the "Test" class will be returned, and Doctrine ORM will be responsible for handling it. Both Eloquent and Doctrine commonly use the Fluent Interface design pattern, which is evident from method names like "where," "orderBy," and others.


Template engines

Symfony out-of-the-box works with Twig, while Laravel utilizes Blade. Their functionality is very similar, but the syntax differs slightly. Both templating engines support block overriding, file inheritance, loops, and much more. If you are familiar with one of the templating engines, you will easily grasp the other without any major issues. The most significant differences will become apparent through code examples.


Twig:



Blade:



On the front end, Laravel provides built-in support for Vue.js, providing additional opportunities. However, in the modern web landscape, there are no limitations to using any PHP back-end framework alongside JavaScript front-end frameworks like React, Angular, or Vue.js.


Сonclusion

The overall conclusion is that it's impossible to determine which is the absolute best framework between Laravel and Symfony; it depends on which one suits specific needs better. Although they have different strategies for building web applications, neither of the implementations can be considered poor. Both frameworks allow significant extension of their core functionality to meet specific requirements, and the vast number of packages available through Composer aids in this regard. Both Laravel and Symfony can be used for both small and high-load websites, thanks to their built-in caching systems and high performance. Each of them is potentially highly extensible, so after choosing a framework for a new project, the further development depends solely on you.


We also want to remind you that our company provides web development services based on both frameworks. We have been working since 2017 and have gained significant experience and a wide range of ready-made solutions. We will be delighted to assist you in implementing any projects for your business.

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