Why use Symfony Framework

In the world of PHP Development there is a lot of different frameworks available to choose from. The larger full-stack framework is unquestionably Larvel in 2023. However, I still continue to utilize Symfony Framework. Beyond the fact that Symfony is the most widely used PHP Component system, it is also the framework that makes the most sense for long-term supported systems.

Laravel provides an excellent developer experience when you’re looking to bootstrap a MVP for a product idea. But as soon as you’re looking at supporting that new product for years, Laravel carries a significant support burden. The reason comes down to simply the support lifecycle of these two products.

Let’s start with the example that you build a web application using both Laravel and Symfony in September 2020 (which actually did)…. At that point the then current versions of Laravel was brand new 8.0, whereas Symfony was 5.1 — and PHP was at version 7.4… Since all of these utilize proper symantic versioning, we can presumably upgrade each of them to the latest minor version without any breaking changing, which results in:

  • Laravel 8 with bugfix through July 2022 and Secutiy Fix through January 2023 (both have past)
  • Symfony 5.4 with bugfix through November 2024 and Security Fix through November 2025 (more than a year still in support)

Additionally, when it comes to upgrading to the next major version:

  • Laravel 9 now requires PHP 8, and also just lost bugfix support as of August 2023, causing yet another upgrade to Laravel 10 which requires PHP 8.1 which will certainly require a upgrade of your server operating system.
  • Symfony 6 (which again, isn’t necessary yet since you still have full bugfix and security update support) has security support through 2027

As you can see, with Laravel you’ll be frequently going back to address depreciated code because over the last 3 years, while Symfony maintains a supported codebase with ZERO need to update code, I’m not sure about you, but when looking at the reality of doing a major framework update twice in three years, versus less than once, there are huge benefits to using Symfony for projects that you’ll need to support over the long term.

Looking ahead of Laravel 11, which will not be released until 2024, it has an anticipated support through 2026 — so you’ll need to upgrade 8 to 9 to 10 to 11 (four major version versus a single update from Symfony 5 to 6 for security support.

For projects that still have significant inflow of cash to support continued software development, a bigger situation is for those one-off projects that you launch and it is basically self-supporting with a base feature-set without ongoing support. I can basically set and forget a Symfony project for 5 years, versus less than 2 years with Laravel.

Beyond the support cycle here are some other reasons why Symfony is a good framework to choose:

Symfony is a popular PHP web application framework known for its robustness, flexibility, and scalability. There are several benefits to using the Symfony framework for web development:

  1. Modularity: Symfony is built around a collection of decoupled and reusable components (over 200), making it easy to pick and choose the components you need for your project. This modular approach promotes code reusability and maintainability.
  2. Scalability: Symfony is suitable for projects of various sizes, from small websites to large-scale enterprise applications. It provides tools and best practices for handling increased traffic and complexity.
  3. Community and Ecosystem: Symfony has a large and active community of developers, which means you can find plenty of resources, documentation, and third-party bundles and packages to extend its functionality.
  4. Performance: Symfony is known for its performance optimizations, and it can handle high-traffic websites efficiently. With features like bytecode caching and HTTP acceleration, it can deliver fast response times.
  5. Security: Symfony incorporates robust security features, including built-in protection against common web vulnerabilities like SQL injection, cross-site scripting (XSS), and cross-site request forgery (CSRF). It also has a security component that helps developers implement best practices.
  6. Flexibility: Symfony allows developers to use various databases, templating engines, and libraries. It doesn’t impose a specific stack on you, which means you can integrate with other tools and technologies easily.
  7. Testing and Debugging: Symfony provides a robust testing framework that allows for unit testing, functional testing, and acceptance testing. Additionally, it offers excellent debugging tools and error reporting, making it easier to identify and fix issues.
  8. Documentation: Symfony is well-documented, with comprehensive guides, tutorials, and community-contributed content. This makes it accessible for both beginners and experienced developers.
  9. Community Support: The Symfony community is active and helpful. You can find support through forums, mailing lists, and social media, making it easier to solve problems and share knowledge.
  10. Long-Term Support (LTS): Symfony offers Long-Term Support versions, which means you can rely on updates and security fixes for an extended period, typically three years. This is crucial for maintaining the stability and security of your application.
  11. Internationalization and Localization: Symfony provides tools for handling multilingual applications, making it easier to reach a global audience.
  12. Integration with Other Tools: Symfony can be integrated with various third-party tools, including content management systems (CMS), e-commerce platforms, and other web services, allowing you to build complex applications with ease.
  13. Community Best Practices: Symfony encourages developers to follow best practices in web development, including using the Model-View-Controller (MVC) architecture, dependency injection, and proper code organization.

Overall, Symfony is a mature and versatile framework that offers a wide range of benefits for web developers, making it a strong choice for building modern web applications. However, like any framework, the suitability of Symfony depends on your project’s specific requirements and your familiarity with the framework.