Laravel vs PHP: Dissecting The Backend Frameworks in Detail!

Web App Development February 15, 2021
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Laravel vs PHP: Dissecting The Backend Frameworks in Detail!

When a new web application project has to be developed, there are multiple strategies to consider before programming. Some of those strategies might involve either creating from scratch or relying on a particular framework and more. The answer is never definite due to the variation in project requirements and the development team’s experience or skills with different frameworks. For the backend part of web development, Laravel vs PHP are both backend frameworks that are best used to develop web apps. Both frameworks provide quality and are robust. PHP is a primary scripting language, and Laravel is a fully-structured PHP based framework. The decision to choose one between them is often confusing. In this blog, we have made it easier for you to choose between Laravel vs PHP by comparing various factors such as architecture, performance, scalability, testing, and more. 

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.   

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. 

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

Popular apps using Laravel as the 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. 

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What is PHP?– An Overview

PHP(Personal Home Page) or Hypertext Preprocessor is a scripting language used for automating various tasks on the server-side web development. It is a general-purpose programming language that easily embeds with the HTML codes. PHP enables the creation of dynamic web pages, eCommerce web apps, and even database-driven applications. It is an open-source scripting language compatible with MySQL, Oracle, and other such database services.     

Market usage stats of PHP

Use cases of PHP

  • Websites with custom scripting of codes
  • Sites with non-scaling server deployment with Linux, Apache, and MySQL
  • Websites that need extensive image processing
  • Websites and web applications (server-side scripting)
  • Desktop (GUI) applications

Popular apps using PHP as the backend technology 

  • Facebook- Created a new PHP-driven language known as Hack as a part of HipHop Virtual Machine (HHVM), an open-source JIT compilation virtual machine.
  • WordPress- Offers a host of themes, plugins, and template customizations with HTML+CSS connection to the database through their software. 
  • Flickr- Used PHP base to offer image processing for photographers to upload high-quality pictures in a limited bandwidth. 
  • WikipediaEnabled web access to a massive database of information on diverse topics through UI with database services like MySQL. 
  • SlackImproved workflow efficiency and boosted web request time by reducing the program defects. 
  • EtsyCreated an analyzer called Phan for PHP to identify false positives and reduce errors in the server-side scripting. 

Laravel and PHP – Pros and Cons

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 PHP

  • Pre-written Scripts- Comes with pre-written, ready-to-use codes that save time for development. 
  • Cross-Platform- Supported by major operating systems including Linux, Solaris, UNIX, macOS, and Windows.
  • Learning Curve- An easy-to-learn language with a consistent and logical syntax that shares similarities with C. 
  • Database Connection- Compatible with popular database services like MySQL or MariaDB and offers clutter-free data exchange, minimizing the time taken for building web applications. 
  • Speed-  Boosts user engagement and SEO rankings by loading web pages faster without disruptions. 

Cons of PHP

  • Need for Interpreter- You will need an additional interpreter program to allow the interpretation of codes in computer-friendly language, which slows the speed of websites.
  • Lack of Uniformity– Lack of uniformity in structural patterns of frameworks can increase the cost of hiring new human resources.
  • Speed Issues- Developers need to add-ons for better user experience which slows the website down.

Laravel vs PHP – Performance & speed comparison

How is the performance of Laravel?

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

How is the performance of PHP?

PHP offers better performance on higher concurrency as compared to its counterparts. The concurrency relates to the number of machines or devices that a language can handle for user request execution. Early versions of the language lacked ability to handle concurrency, which is rectified in the latest iterations. 

According to a benchmark test, PHP’s 8.0 version generates 1617 requests per second for single concurrency, whereas for higher concurrency, say 20, it initiates 9352 requests per second. The REST API test contains 500 routes, 15,000 translations, and returns about 100 objects serialized in JSON. 

Simultaneously, if you are to render a big template with about 93,700 lines of code, the score will be 53.3ms at 18.7 requests per second for a single concurrency. But, as the concurrency increases, it renders more requests per second that are 86. 

Laravel vs PHP – Application architecture

What kinds 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. 

What kinds of architecture does PHP support?

PHP offers a wide range of frameworks such as Ubiquity, Zend, Laravel, Codeigniter, CakePHP, and others that mostly provide MVC architectures, which differentiates the business logic with the representation layer. While the model part helps with the data side of the application, the view part extracts data from the model when it receives requests from its users. The trigger for the execution of requests is handled by the controller part. In fact, frameworks like CakePHP offer ORM (Object Relational Mapping) to reduce SQL reliance for the database connection. 

Laravel vs PHP – Scalability

How scalable is Laravel?

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. 

How scalable is PHP?

PHP is a highly scalable scripting language, and it can be great for small businesses or enterprises. For example, it scales through opcode cache and autoloader by interpreting the code, for each request, to a machine-friendly language. 

With opcode cache, it saves the interpretation from the first request that is automatically applied to further requests. So, PHP does not have to recompile the entire code on each interpretation. As recompilation slows the performance on each request it becomes an obstacle for scalability. Similarly, the autoloader removes required to include statements and improves the performance on various requests. 

Laravel vs PHP – Ease of Testing

How easier is it to test Laravel applications?

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 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 PHP  applications?

Testing PHP apps becomes easy through scalar-type hinting and return-type declaration. With scalar-type hinting, the code’s intent becomes more explicit, and PHP can easily track all the data types returning from a function in the app.

When you validate the assertion, only one string of data is necessary as PHP ensures that the function can only accept the same data. Furthermore, it makes the tests shorter and more comfortable to write, verify, and maintain. Return type declarations, at the same time, warrants precision of the return data type from the function. What’s more, it allows you to create an error-free testing environment.

Laravel vs PHP – Microservices compatibility

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 PHP compatible with Microservices architecture?

PHP is compatible with SOA (Service Oriented Architecture), which predates microservice architecture. However, there are many similarities between SOA and microservices. For starters, both the architectures work on the same principle of breaking down the application into smaller individual units. You can leverage SOA and create microservices that encapsulate large-scale services or systems in comparison to modern architectures. Additionally, it offers microservices that scale independently and are resilient to failures. With service-oriented architecture, there is no limit to message queues for asynchronous calls.

Laravel vs PHP – 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 PHP?

PHP supports primary database services like MySQL, Oracle, PostgreSQL, IBM-DB2, Sybase, and MariaDB. Most importantly, it offers a PDO (PHP Data Objects) layer that constantly interacts with your app and database services. 

So, even if you are switching from MySQL to MariaDB or PostgreSQL, you won’t need extensive coding. It offers other features like,

  • Abstraction layer
  • Object-oriented syntax
  • Prepared statement support
  • Efficient exception handling
  • API security and reusability

Laravel vs PHP – Community

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 have 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 PHP?

PHP has a vast community of developers that spans over different frameworks built on this scripting language. The open-source programming language that has more than 5.5 million developers with different levels of experience. 

NomadPHP, for one, has online user group meetings twice a month with presentations from experts. Other such networks are PHPWomen, dedicated to the women of the framework, and PHP.ug, where developers find useful contact information and users groups.

Interested in Node.js? Find out which is more popular between Node.js vs PHP

Laravel vs PHP – 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 PHP developers?

Many factors affect the cost when you hire a PHP developer like hourly rates, total hours of operations, total coding needs, and others. You could choose to engage freelance developers through online communities or simply hire a PHP development company. While the average cost for freelancers is around $61-80/ hour, the hourly range of hiring a development company ranges between $25 and $49. You may end up bearing more costs than expected on freelancers, for the different frameworks employed by them may lack uniformity of structural patterns. However, when you hire a development company, you have the potential to minimize costs as the team comes with a diverse skillset that enables quick problem solving and faster development.

nodejs vs php

laravel vs nodejs sidebar

Conclusion

PHP vs Laravel are both well-suited frameworks for building PHP based web apps with effective solutions. With PHP, the development solutions might comparatively be more straightforward, and on the other hand, Laravel offers more variety in terms of tools and resources, making it reliable. It is a tough choice, isn’t it? The following scenarios will help you decide when to choose PHP and Laravel based on some essential requirements. 

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. 
  • 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 PHP if: 

  • Your project is of small scale and does not require a too future extension.
  • You need a web app without the need for real-time changes in features.
  • You want to create an image processing app or a marketplace for stock images.
  • You need a desktop application for your online business tools. 
  • You are building a website with cloud integration for scalability.
  • You want to build an interactive website from scratch through hand-written codes.

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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