PHP Developer

My notes and thoughts about Linux, WordPress, PHP, WPML, Toolset and many more.

Most Used PHP Framework-The Popular Top 7 List in year 2011

There are so many PHP frameworks released open source. This provides an almost limitless options for PHP developers. However, a lot of PHP developers are mostly looking for a PHP framework with a lot of fanbase and community support. The primary reason is that a popular PHP framework will have a lot of followers which can help in answering other technical questions relating to that PHP framework.

In less popular PHP framework, the only technical expert is the author of the framework itself which may not devote all of his/her entire time in answering framework related questions. This makes support for less popular framework to be really slow which can affect the user if they are using the framework actively in their website development.

To solve this problem, I have conducted indepth research on the most widely used PHP framework. This is the popular top 7 list for the year 2011. Bear in mind that this list only by popularity and nothing else. If you are looking for the best framework in general, or the fastest PHP framework that you can use for your website then this “popular list” may not provide the answer.

Pie chart of the most popular PHP Framework

The source of the data is Google keyword tool that basically provides the amount of searches for that PHP framework in a one month time frame worldwide. The higher the searches for that framework in Google, the more popular will be the PHP framework.

Results: Based on the results, the most popular framework is the Zend framework with around 74.2% of the searches. This is a very popular due to the following facts:

a.) Zend framework is started by Andi Gutmans and Zeev Suraski, one of the most influential persons that started PHP 3.
b.) Magento which is the most popular e-commerce platform is based on the Zend framework.
c.) McAffee and IBM are very popular websites/companies that are built using the Zend framework.
d.) Zend framework is currently one of the oldest PHP frameworks to exist. So essentially it already earns a lot of reputation.

Another popular framework next to the Zend framework is the Codeigniter. Comparing with the Zend framework, Codeigniter popularity is very small. Cogniter has similar popularity with Symfony and Yii PHP frameworks.

The bottom of the popularity list are: Kohana, Prado and CakePHP. In the past years up to now, this is how the trend looks like:

Trend chart popularity of different PHP frameworks

Although Google trends are using approximations, at least you can deduce some information. It says:

1.) Zend framework popularity starting from year 2007 up to now is somewhat “flat”.
2.) Codeigniter popularity is “consistently” increasing.
3.) Other fast rising PHP frameworks is the yii framework (look at the slope of the trend in green color).
4.) Kohana popularity is somewhat “flat” also.

Featured image credits: Zend Framework project:

46 thoughts on Most Used PHP Framework-The Popular Top 7 List in year 2011

  • Very nice article and stats. Could you please update the stats up to now or tell how you generated them? Thanks a lot.
    PS Yii fan here by the way 🙂

  • “The source of the data is Google keyword tool that basically provides the amount of searches for that PHP framework in a one month time frame worldwide. The higher the searches for that framework in Google, the more popular will be the PHP framework.”

    Say what? So, all you did was charting the popularity of search terms. That’s why your “research” doesn’t fit the title. You talk about “most used” but present data for “most searched”. It should actually come logic and natural to you to remember: Search != Usage

    From my point of view, that’s a bit of a fail. Shame actually, as I was just starting to love your site… 🙁

    • I disagree, search is correlated to usage. If this is not the case, then no sites would be competing for the phrase “Viagra” in Google search results. Why there are so many sites competing for highly-searched terms like this? It’s common sense because there are lots of users for that. Well, I cannot force you to love my site but I appreciate your time here. Thanks for voicing out your concern.

  • You can now post your rants, complaint and criticism via this new Facebook comment box. Thank you for the usual cooperation!

    • Yes, I don’t have actual usage data. What I do is to correlate popularity with usage data. You may disagree, but in real world this can make sense. Of course as long as you have that usage data yourself, I would be glad if you share it. As long as it comes from reputable sources.

    • You’re right, it is similar.
      Well, I think there should be more polls for developers. 🙂
      However, CI is lately the most “popular” by what I’ve seen in job applications..

    • Ivan Ivkovi? Its hard to trust polls data, the more it will be easily manipulated. Even WordPress tracks its usage statistics in terms of number of downloads directly from their source, which of course is not perfectly reliable as users downloading the CMS may not actually become long term users. But WordPress know that download count do correlates with usage.

      Same with the concept that popularity do correlate with usage statistics. Some may disagree on this, but it does make sense for me. I agree with CI, I know some web development companies that uses CI on their projects not on a global scale I think.

    • Ivan Ivkovi? LOL. Probably they sort out a reliable download or install count based on unique IP. 🙂 What If one large network uses 50 unique IP or a single company owns a thousands of unique IPs and install the software on each IP. Can it be counted as single installation/usage count? How is it possible for PHP framework developers or even WordPress to know about this?

      See its very hard to get a reliable 100% super-accurate usage data. All possible data gathering methodology can be debatable.

  • The higher the searches for that framework in Google, the more popular will be the PHP framework.” what if most of the devs feel difficulty in zend and go on google for help, what does that mean zend is popular framework?

  • Thanks for sharing such a nice and useful information for all PHP developers about the mostly used frameworks list.

  • “Zend framework” is an exact match entered in Google. So its the real framework searches and hits. Thanks for sharing such a nice blog….

  • Great article. We’re moving from straight PHP to a framework; we haven’t really picked one yet. We develop a lot of API heavy sites, so we need something fast and light. In internet marketing, search trends are extremely valuable in determining popularity. Haters gonna hate.

  • Pretty fair article!

    I am not too sure about using Zend, personally, as the licensing for it makes me a little uncomfortable. Several of the other PHP frameworks look pretty decent ( enough for me try, anyway ) and I remember seeing a few other interesting frameworks projects on SourceForge. I am really big on supporting true open-source projects!

    As to the “worthlessness” issue of the comparisons made in this posting, some of the comments here have me begging some of you to please GROW UP! The author is entitled to his/her opinions on the matter, especially when based on his/her findings and independent research. Yeah, I have a few qualms about some of GOOGLE’s rankings criteria myself. That doesn’t mean one’s own conclusions, based on trawling GOOGLE’s data are necessarily WRONG or right ( except, maybe for YOU ). You could always try this out from the other search engines, to get a bit wider comparison of results, but at least try to be a bit more constructive in your criticisms.

    I would like to see a few other frameworks brought into general use. Would be nice to see how they would stack up, compared to the older projects that have been around a while. 😉

    Other than all that, I am looking into a few frameworks for redesigning my own site. Some of the newer content-management engines out there are also looking promising.


    – Jim S.

  • This is pretty pointless, take Yii for example, it will include the hits for yii framework, but also for shin yii, young investors international, yii radio, etc

    • You are wrong! Take a look at the screenshot below:

      Yii Framework trend

      Do your homework first. As you have now observed, the trend is pretty the same. The original analysis is correct.

  • There’s a reason zend did so well with google searches — zend isn’t just a framework ( — you’re obviously getting a ton of non zend framework related hits. So yes, this is misleading, but not useless — I still think it’s interesting.

    • I beg to disagree, “Zend framework” is an exact match entered in Google. So its the real framework searches and hits. I know that Zend framework is just one of the products of but the one used in the analysis is not “zend” itself or “php zend” but “zend framework”. So I believe its not misleading.

  • You did a wonderful job here emerson please. Even if the data don’t seem to be correct, at least they must drove towards the exact analysis.

    • There is no such thing as “correct” in my vocabulary, because all things made and analyzed by humans ever since has some flaws on it. I agree Paul, at least they drove towards the actual analysis and that’s exactly the reason why the analysis has been made.

  • I Highly Disagree that Googling a word will yield the “IMPORTANCE” or “BEST”. I googled human being vs monkey yielded great results for monkey not for human beings. If you say its the popularity that makes the things best, do monkeys better than human?

    • Not to be rude, but you are out of context here. The objective of the study is to find out the “MOST USED” not the best or the most important. Its true that high search volume correlate strongly with the usage.

  • I agree web searches in no way reflect popularity in software frameworks. Celebrity name searches do not have anything to do with a software framework. If a user cannot find good info on a topic relating to a framework then they try again.. And again… And again.

    Maybe try a combination approach, total framework downloads, your web search stats, Alexa stats…. Such things

    Till then this page is not only useless but misleading

    • Andrew, thanks for dropping by. I heartily disagree with you.To say that the analysis on this page is useless is the same as saying searches data from Google are worthless. The backbone data of this research comes from Google which is not a joke. Whether you hate Justin Bieber or a big fan of the Kardashians- I don’t really care. This post is written with the intention to inform (of course subject to my disclaimer).

      You can perform your own research and publish it somewhere then we can happily read it too. Till then your accusation that this page is useless is not only untrue but rather also misleading 🙂

  • Thank you for your article it really guided me, i’ll begin to use rain framework for my site… (Saludos desde Chile, Latinamerica)

  • This doesn’t indicate anything other than search trends.

    One framework may have far better documentation than another so web searches for answers are less frequent.

    Likewise one framework may be harder to learn than another, requiring more searches for answers to basic questions.

    To equate web searches to popularity is meaningless. The only realistic measure of popularity would be installed instances of each framework.

    • I disagree, web searches do equate popularity. In real life, popular entities do have high amount of web searches. Think about celebrities like Justin Bieber and other buzz on this planet. They have high web searches also. This is why I mined the web searches data to correlate with the popularity.

      Although if you can give me data about the installed instances of each framework then I would surely be grateful. It is because until now, I find it challenging where to look at that data. Yeah you are right that installed instances correlate to a much more meaningful popularity. But you cannot rule out web searches too.

  • hi.,

    Im a PHP developer, I want to learn a framework in php. I’m in confusion of which one to select? Zend or codeigniter or…? which one is best for my future? can you please give me your suggestion?

    • Try the lightest of them: Rain Framework:
      Spend at most a week learning the very basics. I am sure you will be impressed with the results.

      I recommend the lightest and fastest framework because you are still a student and I bet you need everything to run as simple and straightforward as possible.

      The support is also very helpful.

  • CodeIgniter popularity will from now on steadily decrease because they are doing a license change to OSL and they just declared that their current and future license is incompatible to any GPL software or library.
    Talk about sawing on the branch you are sitting on.
    The codeigniter searches may be increased recently but that may be just a followup to the debacle around the license issue.

    • Yup I agree, CodeIgniter could take on the future. Their un-greedy decisions could take them to high places in terms of PHP framework.

    • Hi Kevin,

      Well best is relative. As to what perspective, speed? performance? community support? I suggest to spend some time with CakePHP framework first and decide whether it will answer ALL of your website technical needs. If you are not happy with its performance, get back to me and I will help you find a better framework that suits your needs. Thanks for the feedback.


  • Yup. I am also wondering how you did your math?!
    1.54 symfony
    1.32 zend framework
    1.00 codeigniter (base)
    0.24 yii
    0.22 kohana

    Also, if you are going to talk about 2011 trends, then use a 2011 TREND statistical data!

    • Hi John,

      I strongly believe and 100% sure that I did my math correctly. Yup that is the latest data I am talking about. Remember that data in Google trends are dynamic, what I just mined MAY NOT BE exactly the same as I have! However those the data and results, the results would speak for themselves.

      Thanks for your concern.


  • hi

    I would be interested how did you get that 75% zend framework result.

    “Comparing with the Zend framework, Codeigniter popularity is very small. Cogniter has similar popularity with Symfony and Yii PHP frameworks.”

    I would guess that Symfony should be either ahead of ZF, or closely following it.
    your google trend results also shows that both symfony and codeigniter is most frequently searched than ZF:


    • Hi Tyrael,
      Jesus Christ! I have lost the Excel file that I used in computing the pie chart! Anyway I have mentioned that “The source of the data is Google keyword tool that basically provides the amount of searches for that PHP framework in a one month time frame worldwide. The higher the searches for that framework in Google, the more popular will be the PHP framework.”

      So basically what I did is mine some data using this Google Keyword tool:
      For example comparing the EXACT match of popularity (in searches) between Symfony and Zend framework. It clearly shows Zend framework is ahead in terms of exact match queries (exact means that it is the exact word being inputted in the Google search box), see screenshot:

      Zend vs Symfony

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