Symfony: Why we’re expecting 2018 to be a big year for this PHP web app framework

The latest version of PHP web application framework Symfony is excellent, so we're envisaging big things ahead over the next 12 months.

Posted on 16 January 2018 -
Tibus BY Tibus

If you read the blog post featuring our tech predictions for 2018, you will know that we are expecting Symfony to go from strength to strength this year. We thought it would be worth a follow-up post to discuss that in a bit more detail.

For the uninitiated, Symfony is a PHP web application framework that can be used to underpin various other frameworks and large applications. It comprises a set of reusable PHP components, plus the framework on which to build web projects.

It has already been downloaded more than 1 billion times, so we’re not exactly backing some rank outsider here but we believe there is more to come from Symfony. Given those download figures, it might seem churlish for us to say Symfony is going to come of age in 2018. But we’re expecting many more downloads over the course of the year.

The main reason for that is Symfony 4, the latest iteration of the platform, which was released in December 2017.

Version 4 offers impressive performance gains for users. Symfony 4.0 is almost three times faster than Laravel 5.5. Perhaps even more impressively in terms of the evolution of the platform, a basic web page on Symfony 4.0 is almost twice as fast as the same code when using Symfony 3.4. And on PHP 7.2, Symfony 4.0 is twice as fast as Symfony 3.4.

We are already big fans of the platform and we regularly see it in use in the web development projects carried out by our sister company Zesty. 

Our suspicion is that, as word spreads further, the performance improvements we have outlined above are going to prove irresistible to developers who are yet to discover or embrace Symfony.

Where are the performance gains made?

Symfony 4 is more modular than its predecessors and has fewer dependencies on itself. Building a Symfony app now requires a much smaller footprint than was previously the case. The framework uses less code, which means there is less code to load and improved performance for end users. To quantify that, Symfony 4 typically allows you to achieve the functionality you need while using 70% less code and 70% fewer files than before.

The latest version also includes Symfony Flex, a new tool used to install and manage Symfony applications. It automates the most common tasks, like installing and removing bundles, which makes it quicker and easier for developers to add packs of functionality, with automatic configuration handled for them.

In previous versions, a lot of unnecessary components were already included in the building process. Now you start with what has been called Symfony Skeleton: an essentially empty framework on to which you can easily add only the components you need to use.

The new setup works so well that the Silex micro-framework - a popular feature in previous versions - is now surplus to requirements. Symfony 4 and Flex are so good are reducing the number of components and replicating the experience of using Silex, that the old feature has been phased out.

What next?

As we’ve alluded to above, we think that potent combination of time saved on builds and time saved for end users is going to have developers running into the Symfony tent this year.

Are you already working with Symfony?

Feel free to get in touch for a chat about hosting your Symfony applications.

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