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January 27, 2021

2021 PHP Landscape Report: Top PHP Technologies

State of PHP
PHP Development

For companies working with PHP, understanding the PHP technology landscape, and which PHP technologies are most popular, is crucial to creating and maintaining successful long-term projects.

So which PHP technologies do teams rely on most, and why are they so well-adopted? In this blog, we look at the most popular PHP technologies as reported by our 2021 PHP Landscape Report, including the most popular PHP frameworks, web servers, testing tools, and more. After the results, we give insight into the results and how they relate to greater trends in the PHP landscape.

Top PHP Technologies for 2021

In our 2021 PHP Landscape Survey, we asked teams to weigh in with the technologies they use in their PHP projects. Alongside the findings, we asked Zend Product Manager (and Laminas Development Lead) Matthew Weier O'Phinney to give his thoughts on the results.

Ready to see the results? Click a link below to jump to a specific section, or click the button below to download a copy of the full 2021 PHP Landscape Report.

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From technologies to development trends and analysis, the 2021 PHP Landscape Report gives an inside glimpse into the shifting and vibrant world of PHP development. Download your free copy today.

2021 PHP Landscape Report
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Most Popular PHP Framework

Our survey found the most popular PHP framework to be Laravel, at 28%. Zend Framework / Laminas were the next most popular choice at 24%. The third most popular PHP framework was Symfony at 11% of respondents, trailed by CodeIgniter at 7%, and Yii at 4%. 22% of respondents reported using a framework not included in our choices, with Slim and Drupal being the most popular answers provided.

Top PHP Frameworks - Zend 2021 PHP Landscape Report

Notes From Matthew Weier O'Phinney:

The popularity of Zend Framework / Laminas can likely be attributed to the fact that its decoupled component architecture allows various packages to be used independently, then incorporated into applications developed in other frameworks. Additionally, the existence of the package manager Composer in the PHP ecosystem has led to the ability to mix and match elements of different frameworks to build out custom solutions — this has been a huge force for change in the PHP ecosystem.

Most Popular PHP Async Framework

Among the 142 respondents using asynchronous coding in PHP, we found the most popular PHP async framework to be ReactPHP, which represented 56% of those using async. Swoole was also popular, at 30%, with AMPPHP following at 13%.

Top Async PHP Framework - Zend 2021 PHP Landscape Report

Notes From Matthew Weier O'Phinney:

With Swoole’s clear advantages in speed and the ability to provide coroutine support for common operations due to its implementation as a PHP extension, we were surprised to see ReactPHP, a userland async framework, dominate the responses. That said, ReactPHP can optionally use PHP extensions (such as the “uv”, “ev”, or “event” extensions) to improve its performance and capabilities and provides some features, such as async filesystem access, that Swoole does not yet offer. All three options are solid choices, and we recommend keeping an eye on all of them.

Most Popular PHP Web Server

Our survey found the most popular PHP web server to be the Apache Web Server, at 64%. The next most popular we server was Nginx, at 28%. WampServer was the only other statistically significant response at 3%.

Top PHP Web Servers - Zend 2021 PHP Landscape Report

Notes From Matthew Weier O'Phinney:

Apache has been a huge force in the web ecosystem for decades and has managed to continue to outstrip competitors despite many considering it a “legacy” technology. Improvements to its performance have helped it retain its position as the web server of choice for PHP developers.

Most Popular PHP Testing Tools

At 78%, respondents reported PHPUnit as the most popular PHP testing tool. Codeception came in at 9%, with PHPSpec and Behat both reported at 7%.

Top PHP Testing Tools - Zend 2021 PHP Landscape Report

Notes From Matthew Weier O'Phinney:

PHPUnit is a fundamental testing tool, allowing users to unit test applications, and provides limited integration and functional testing capabilities that can assist with overall application quality; we are not surprised to see it as the top selection. The next three most popular tools are each behavior and/or acceptance testing tools; these are used to help determine overall application correctness and are powerful tools to have in your suite, particularly if you plan to perform PHP upgrades.

Final Thoughts

While there were no real surprises in which frameworks, web servers, and testing tools ended up on top this year, it's interesting to see how the market share shifts according to the greater trends within the PHP landscape.

If you haven't had a chance to read the 2021 PHP Landscape Report yet, be sure to check it out. It gives a lot more information that helps to frame these results, especially in terms of how these respondents are using PHP, what size companies they're working with, and etc.. It also gives a glimpse into how adoption in these categories may continue to shift according to the trends that shape PHP development.

Download the Full 2021 PHP Landscape Report

See the full results of our recent PHP Landscape Survey when you download your free copy of the Zend 2021 PHP Landscape Report.

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Additional Resources