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17.12. Zend Framework (1) vs. Symfony2

Note: This article was originally published at Planet PHP on 17 December 2011.
Planet PHP
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In this article, I want to highlight some differences between the two PHP frameworks that have been the most popular ones at the time of writing. Zend Framework (ZF) is currently a quasi-standard in many PHP companies and Symony2's popularity is constantly increasing. Symfony2 is pretty new now and many developers are thinking about if and when to make the switch from ZF to Symfony2 which is why I think we should spend time looking at the frameworks' differences.
I selected three topics that are implemented differently in these frameworks and will describe how each of them does it.


Project Setup

I took the setup of new projects as one category of comparison because it is an important to make this step as easy as possible for developers that are learning a new framework. In my opinion, the adoption time of a new technology somehow correlates with the easiness of starting a project with using this technology.

Zend Framework Project Setup

To set up a Zend Framework (ZF) project, download the framework's minimal package and extract it to an empty directory. You will see two new folders: bin and library. To initialize the project structure, run the included cli script in the project directory like this:

php bin/zf.php create project .

When you now go to http:/// with your web browser, you see a blue welcome page which indicates that the installation was successful. To configure a database connection, you will have to manually edit the file application/configs/application.ini and add the following lines to the [production] environment.



After this step, you have a fully functional Zend Framework project which can be configured using different environments. The next step is to implement custom controllers, views and model classes.

Symfony2 Project Setup

Setting up a project with Symfony2 is pretty easy. You start by downloading a copy of the Symfony2 Standard Edition, extract it to an empty directory and can start to configure your project. However your system has to fulfill some requirements which can be checked by running the script check.php in the app folder (just run php check.php in the command line). When all requirements are fulfilled (and you created a virtual host with its DocumentRoot pointing to the project's web directory), you can navigate your browser to http:///config.php and configure the project via a fancy web UI. After checking all requirements again, the Symfony2 sandbox asks you to enter your database configuration which will be written to a configuration file afterwards. The sandbox also includes a sample page where you can see that everything is up and running: http:///app_dev.php/demo/hello/World.

To use the sandbox for a real project, I suggest removing the demo pages visited before. Remove the line registering the demo bundle from the file app/AppKernel.php and the demo bundle's router configuration from app/config/routing_dev.yml. Last you can delete the bundle's folder src/Acme.


app/AppKernel.php

app/routing_dev.yml

To be able to define different database connection parameters for the various environments (as with ZF), copy the file app/config/parameters.ini to (this example uses the environment dev, of course you can to the same for any other environment!) app/config/parameters_dev.ini and adjust the other config files accordingly:







Project Setup - Conclusion

The initialization process of a new project is very easy with both of the compared frameworks. One benefit of ZF is that it eases the differentiation between

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