The First PHP frameworks
Every developer has their opinion about frameworks. In the case of PHP, its humble beginnings made the concept moot. Even once object orientation became part of the PHP grammar, developers shied away citing reasons ranging from performance to inflexibility. Eventually this changed, but there was no authoritative framework. Every man and his dog had their own frameworks, some thin, some complex, most very specialised. Only after years since the release of PHP 5 has their been mass adoption of select frameworks. Some of the big names to this day are Zend Framework, Symfony, CodeIgniter and Yii.
Evolution. Illumination. Laravel 4
Laravel is the culmination of the progress made in both PHP and framework development in PHP exemplified in what I believe to be the most elegant framework available. Laravel 4 borrows extensively from other frameworks and libraries, and focuses on improving the areas that take up the bulk of a developer’s time. Eloquent ORM, the Laravel routing system, simple migrations, the generators, and several other features are some of the stand outs. My conversion started while working on a client’s project which contained the odd request that the code be written using the Laravel framework. The client also mentioned Laravel 4, which at the time was soon to reach a stable release. The documentation was not complete, and often included references to forwards incompatible aspects of previous versions. The speed at which this changed, the helpfulness of the community, and the already large user base made up for this shortcoming, and helped me focus on what made the framework great. I have not looked back since.
A great starter package has been put together which is an excellent “learn by example” resource. Laravel 4 Bootstrap Starter Site on GitHub. There are also several open source projects built on Laravel 4 that can be found by browsing GitHub.