Laravel vs CodeIgniter: Comparing two PHP frameworks on the basics of web app development

Web App Development March 12, 2021
Laravel vs Codeignitor

Laravel vs CodeIgniter: Comparing two PHP frameworks on the basics of web app development

Over the years, we have seen that the PHP framework has become the most preferred one when it comes to building web applications for the enterprise. Many PHP frameworks are available and quite popular within the community, especially Laravel and CodeIgniter. 

To take an informed decision that suits your demands and fits your project requirements, you will need a comprehensive understanding of both Laravel and CodeIgniter. This comparison – Laravel Vs CodeIgniter – should give you a thorough understanding of various factors while choosing either of these PHP frameworks. So without further ado, let’s get started

Introduction to Laravel and CodeIgniter

What is Laravel? – An Overview

Laravel is an open-sourced web framework known for its server-side handling of routing, HTML authentication, templating, and more. Created by Taylor Otwell, Laravel is written in PHP and is based on Symfony that provides reusable PHP components/libraries. Since it is a server-side-based framework, with Laravel, you can build applications with pre-defined architectures, customized backend logic, web portal, templates, and full-stack apps as well as manage SaaS products.  

What is CodeIgniter? – An Overview

CodeIgniter is a strong PHP framework with a minimal digital footprint designed for developers who prefer a simplistic and rich toolkit to develop full-featured web applications. Built by EllisLab in 2006, this framework is one of the PHP frameworks available to generate dynamic websites utilizing PHP.  It gives users absolute freedom and no dependency on the MVC development pattern. This framework sanctions third-party plugins that facilitate the use of complex functionalities.

Market Usage Statistics – Laravel vs CodeIgniter

Market usage stats of Laravel

  • Laravel holds 0.37% of the market share among all the web frameworks that exist today. 
  • The number of live websites using Laravel has risen above 648,115 with over 1.78% (one million) websites based in the US region.
  • Laravel has 63.5k Github stars with 20.3k live projects and 544 dedicated contributors who improve the real-time framework.

Market usage stats of CodeIgniter

  • CodeIgniter has 0.36% of the market share in web frameworks today.
  • It enjoys 17.7k stars and 7.8k forks on Github.
  • There are 1,410,088 websites built on CodeIgniter from Japan, India, Vietnam, Indonesia, and 39 other countries.

Pros and Cons of Laravel and CodeIgniter

Pros of Laravel

Pre-packaged tools: Facilitates common tasks required for building web applications by offering ready-to-use packages for user authentication, testing APIs. 

Templating system: Uses a templating engine known as Blade, which offers enormous power to format data and create complex web-app layouts with easy navigation. It allows the addition of new modules and features without making any change in the core. 

Automation with Artisan CLI: Offers the ability to automate any kind of recurring task which is application-specific. It generates modern boilerplate codes to manage databases, migrations, and implement custom commands conveniently. 

Routing: Reverse routing is a unique feature that supports the automatic propagation of changes in routes into relevant links. In other words, it automatically creates Uniform Resource Identifiers (URIs).  

Automated testing: Offers expressive testing methods with PHPUnit that simulates user behavior by making requests to the application’s functions. This way, testing is less time-consuming and automated.   

Cons of Laravel

Lightweight: Typically, the lightweight feature of this framework is considered an advantage, but in this framework, the lightweight nature leads to excessive backend congestion of database queries, ultimately leading to lower performance with an increase in data congestion.   

Library quality: While Laravel might be open-sourced and backed by a vast community, it also leads to an increase in less reliable third-party libraries.

Community: Since the Laravel community is considerably large, the number of third-party libraries built and published is significant. It becomes difficult to evaluate which library is reliable and quality certified.

Pros of CodeIgniter

Security: Provides application customization and helps strengthen its security. The framework makes it easier to build security protocols for specific organizational needs.

Modularity: Collaborates with Expression Engine to support the developers for built-in user authentication and ease of getting into modular applications. Expression Engine is a flexible platform with ready-to-use templates. 

User-friendly Interface: Whether you are developing a web app full of dynamic functionality or a responsive website experience, CodeIgniter offers enhanced UI with flexibility.

Active developer community: The vibrant and active support group extensively contributes to ready-to-use source codes to enhance web development. In comparison with other frameworks, CodeIgniter offers more organized and extensive documentation.

Hassle-free migration: Lets users migrate seamlessly from one server to another despite the colossal data. This makes CodeIgniter a preferred choice to address the technical glitches developers suffer otherwise with migration. 

Cons of CodeIgniter 

Unstable code maintainability: It’s tedious for developers to update, modify, and maintain the code, consuming a good amount of time.

Absent Exhaustive Libraries: Compared to the new-age PHP frameworks, this one provides an exhaustive list of libraries that might leave it behind.

Dormant Growth: Development and growth have become stagnant with lesser updates, which has resulted in versions going out of sync.

Laravel vs. Symfony: Similarities & Differences of Two PHP Frameworks

Use cases – Laravel vs. CodeIgniter

Use cases of Laravel

  • SaaS-based web applications 
  • On-demand streaming web apps
  • e-Learning web apps
  • Stock trading based web management systems
  • Web apps with rewards and recognition features 
  • Multilingual CMS systems 
  • Self-hosted website-performance monitoring apps

Use cases of CodeIgniter

  • SaaS-based web applications 
  • E-commerce web applications
  • On-demand streaming web apps
  • Payroll processing web app
  • Customized CRM 
  • Invoice management system 
  • POS (Point of Sales) system  

Popular applications built with Laravel and CodeIgniter

Popular apps using Laravel as a backend technology

  • Laracasts, an e-learning website, offers various courses and serves as a platform where technical queries are answered and resolved by experts. 
  • Barchart, a financial portal, gained an advantage of the latest global market data in stock, currency exchange, trade offers, gold price, and more. 
  • Asgard CMS, a modular multilingual CMS, provides futuristic ready-to-use modules such as dashboard, media management, and flexible back-end support. 
  • World Walking,  a charity-led healthcare platform, focuses on provoking people to do more walking by offering rewards and recognition programs. 
  • Neighborhood Lender uses Laravel as the backend support to serve as a mortgage calculator with a wide range of financial functionalities, making complex mortgage processes more comfortable and straightforward. 

Popular apps using CodeIgniter as a backend technology

  • Casio America Inc built its website with CodeIgniter which generates high traffic with a $10000 tech investment in project development. 
  • Textify built in CodeIgniter with a tech investment of $1000+ and is successfully generating sales revenue of $189k  
  • Creative genius Inc developed their CodeIgniter-based website with a project investment of $5000+ which generates medium traffic and reaps profits of sales revenue $624k 
  • Firstcry.com built with CodeIgniter received an investment of $2000 bringing fairly good traffic.
  • Fastphone by GCI Communication Corp was built with CodeIgniter and got a project investment of $10,000 and drives good traffic.
  • Philippine Airlines Inc built their boutique website with CodeIgniter financing it with $10,000. It brings in great traffic and generates a sales revenue of $203k.

Laravel vs CodeIgniter performance comparison

How does Laravel stand out in terms of performance?

The performance of Laravel-based applications can have implications on the success of a project, and it is said to be slow. But, its community suggests that it can be improved for better performance if optimized appropriately, which may allow applications to perform efficiently even under 20ms.

Usage of Cache tags allow applications to quickly load the pre-stored information that allows a faster response time, leading to improved performance.

CodeIgniter – Performance & speed comparison

CodeIgniter-based applications are run through a functional test to determine the performance. Few projects have also demonstrated various response times based on the number of users. For example, the average response time to run the application with 100 users was 11.5 sec. On the other hand, with 500 users, it was 45.6 sec and with 1100 users, it recorded 26.0 sec. These projects showed how robust and scalable CodeIgniter can perform.

laravel vs codeigniter reponse graph

Laravel vs CodeIgniter application architecture

When choosing a framework, it’s important to choose flexibility and avoid any strict enforcement of architecture and guidelines.  As a matter of fact, it’s always recommended to treat a framework as a guide, not methods and standards. That said, let’s juxtapose Laravel and CodeIgniter with each other and check whether they are flexible in terms of architecture.

What kind of architecture does Laravel support?

Laravel follows the Model-View-Controller (MVC) architectural pattern that provides the ability to split developer roles for a more comfortable development process. In other words, while a frontend developer is working on the views, a backend developer can be working on the controller logic simultaneously. 

The MVC patterns also offer full control over the application, which might come in handy to choose application-specific routes and customize how your application appears on a global scale. This improves the SEO of the application in return as well. Implementing external APIs and reusing application logic is effortless with Laravel’s MVC architecture. Thus, the creation of immutable backend support for any web application is always possible.

CodeIgniter – Application architecture

CodeIgniter is based on the Model-View-Controller model. The MVC architecture allows web pages to include minimal scripting and test-built modules. This test-driven development approach saves time, boosts productivity, and facilitates integration with Javascript frameworks. 

Scalability

Is Laravel scalable?

Popular apps using Laravel for years are scaling up their applications without any limitation. Laravel inherits scalability from PHP as it proffers support to rapidly growing businesses. By choosing a good database and load balancer, Laravel can achieve massive horizontal scaling. 

Laravel applications can be scaled as per requirement by using MySQL, AWS and some advanced caching methods.

Is CodeIgniter scalable?

CodeIgniter is lightweight, making it a go-to for highly scalable applications. It has no real overhead or conventions as it loads only what is requested. You can achieve scalability by caching modifications without disrupting the performance. However, scaling a web app is a science that has little to do with the language or framework itself. It’s important that you create sophisticated system architecture and evaluate the technical capabilities of the database layer, best practices like using more servers, caching, horizontal/ vertical scaling.

Ease of Testing

How easier is it to test a Laravel app?

Given the fact that Laravel functions with PHP, there are many testing tools available to ensure the creation of a bug-free application. However, it is understandable to feel overwhelmed by the number of tools and resources available for testing. To make the testing process more comfortable, Laravel tests code in two distinct levels known as Unit tests and Feature tests. 

Laravel, by default, has a robust testing documentation and provides all the tools you need to test the application environment at several levels, including the ability to conduct mock tests by mocking application codes and events.

How easier is it to test a CodeIgniter app?

CodeIgniter provides a simplistic unit-testing class that enables you to write tests for your applications. It has an evaluation function along with two result functions that may not perform a full-blown test but acts as a simple tool to evaluate your code quality for accurate results. They run by initializing class and generating reports and also provide customized templates to show tests.

Microservices Compatibility – Laravel vs CodeIgniter

Is Laravel compatible with microservices architecture?

PHP supports microservices architecture, and it is evident that Laravel supports microservices architecture as well. How does Laravel do it? The app is broken down modularly into small building blocks, each with its function and responsibility. These functions communicate with each other using language-agnostic APIs, and as a result, the app becomes compatible with the microservices architecture. 

For the past few months, the need to use Laravel with microservices architecture was so intense that a developer came up with a framework – Lumen. It serves a similar purpose and is a leaner, smaller, and lighter version of Laravel.

Is CodeIgniter compatible with microservices architecture?

This framework lets you leverage PHP’s full-stack tools to build efficient and robust microservices. The microservice-architectural approach serves best in the test-driven web app with CodeIgniter 3 and fills gaps in your architecture. What’s more, it also streamlines code and builds an infrastructure to handle and integrate data for optimal automated results. Consequently, you get maximum scalability, performance, and database support.

Database Support

How good is the database support for Laravel?

Laravel currently supports four database system types: Postgres, MySQL, SQLite, and SQL. The fluent query builder, raw SQL, and Eloquent ORM make the process of interacting with these databases simple. Even establishing multiple database connections is more comfortable to configure with Laravel. 

Whether other databases will support Laravel, only the future can tell. But say, you are comfortable with the databases that Laravel supports, you will face no limitations in creating a wholly controlled relationship between the database and the web app.

How good is the database support for CodeIgniter?

CodeIgniter comes with a full-featured, high-speed abstracted database class that supports both traditional structures and Query Builder patterns. Its clear and simple syntax makes it a preferred choice for developers across the globe. Following are some drivers through which you can access the databases:

  • MySQL (5.1+) via the MySQLi driver
  • PostgreSQL via the Postgre driver
  • SQLite3 via the SQLite3 driver
  • MSSQL via the SQLSRV driver

Community Support – Laravel vs CodeIgniter

How big is the community around Laravel?

PHP holds 79% of the market when it comes to server-side programming of web applications. Laravel has a vast community with more than 46,231 active users, 18,105 threads, 63.5k Github stars, and 4.7k real-time watchers. The maximum time taken to resolve a Laravel query by the community is not more than three days. PHP and Laravel combined has a powerful community, where developers share Laravel podcasts, news, documents, repositories, etc. Following are some of the places where you can meet the Laravel community:

How big is the community around CodeIgniter?

The CodeIgniter community is an open-source, vibrant, and active space where members collect and exchange ideas. It has 7.9k active users on Github with an 18.1k-star rating and 1.7k real-time watchers. What’s more, web developers who are active community members are more functional. Here are some more communities you may want to join:

Hiring Developers

How convenient is it to hire Laravel developers?

With the vast community of PHP and Laravel worldwide, it is no rocket-science to hire a Laravel developer. You can almost find a Laravel developer in every corner. But it is essential to keep in mind that rookies might find it challenging to handle its advanced features. Hence, the ones you hire must have the know-how of handling Artisan, Eloquent ORM, and caching. The average charge for employing a Laravel developer is around $15 to $30 per hour. Laravel also offers an official platform to find Laravel developers.

How convenient is it to hire CodeIgniter developers?

Hiring CodeIgniter developers is easy and convenient with options like hourly, project-wise, or full-time basis. It is recommended to hire an expert web development company to build CodeIgniter web app solutions for your project demands. The average hourly rate to hire CodeIgniter developers is $61 – $80.

Conclusion

Laravel has the advantage of pre-defined architecture that makes customization of backend logic easier. At the same time, CodeIgniter offers ease of testing for scalable applications. The choice between Laravel and CodeIgniter depends on the kind of application you want to develop.

Choose Laravel, if: 

  • You want built interactive website layouts with appealing content. 
  • Your vision is to create an advanced application without adding any overhead components or additional costs by leveraging the Blade Template Engine of Laravel. 
  • You want to take advantage of various widgets with JS and CSS compatibility to create customized web apps. 
  • You require an excellent documented framework with constant support from a large community.
  • Your project requirement is to build a web application quicker and faster with object-oriented libraries. 
  • Your goal is to create an SEO-friendly and reliable web application with high security. 
  • You want to build apps with in-built PHP Data Objects (PDO) based security protection that prevents SQL injections and CSRF attacks by default.

Choose CodeIgniter, if: 

  • You want to build web applications with elegant interfaces. 
  • You require a well-documented framework with support from an active community.
  • You want a powerful PHP framework with striking features
  • You want a PHP framework with enhanced security. 
  • You want to develop a web app with less code at a faster rate.
  • You want to create a customized web app that is lightweight.

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Hiren is VP of Technology at Simform with an extensive experience in helping enterprises and startups streamline their business performance through data-driven innovation.

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