Which is a better PHP framework for your next Web Application - CodeIgniter or Laravel?

CodeIgniter and Laravel are the two most popular PHP frameworks which are precisely why PHP is still relevant for developing web applications. PHP is used 82% of the time for web development and no wonder Laravel and CodeIgniter are used an ample number of times given the popularity of the two frameworks. Then, should one decide which PHP framework to use for a new web application between the two frameworks? Let’s compare the PHP frameworks CodeIgniter and Laravel and see which is ideal for a web application.

What is CodeIgniter? 

CodeIgniter is an easy-to-learn, small yet powerful, and rich toolkit to develop full-fledged, dynamic web applications. It was developed in 2006 by EllisLab. While its footprint is small, it enables third-party plugins for all the functionalities that need to be delivered in web applications. It has 18.2k stars on Github as of this month.

Pros and Cons of CodeIgniter

Let’s see the features and advantages of CodeIgniter here:
● Easy learning curve: Having a small footprint and being a lightweight framework has its advantage. It is one of the easiest frameworks to master.
● Security: Security is enhanced using the CodeIgniter framework with its XSS filtering.
● Documentation support: CodeIgniter has profound and extensive documentation as compared to the other PHP frameworks.
● Error Logging: CodeIgniter comes with an error logging class that allows error messages to be saved as text files. By default, CodeIgniter displays all PHP errors.

● Flexibility: CodeIgniter offers great flexibility in creating dynamic web applications for a responsive website experience.
● Modularity: CodeIgniter achieves modularity by collaborating with the Expression Engine. The Expression Engine is a collection of user-friendly templates.
● Active Developer community: The active community is always on its mark to help the developers when stuck with any issues.
● Easy-migration: Whenever server/database migration is warranted, CodeIgniter is the right choice. Irrespective of the tremendous amount of data, CodeIgniter makes the entire migration process hassle-free especially with the technical glitches the developers face during migration.

Now, let us understand the drawbacks of the CodeIgniter framework:
● Tedious code maintainability: Updating, modifying, or maintaining the code is a tiresome process in CodeIgniter.
● Limited Libraries: As compared to the other PHP frameworks or the latest frameworks, CodeIgniter libraries are exhaustive.
● Stagnant Growth: The development in CodeIgniter has more or less become stagnant with fewer updates, due to which the versions are getting outdated.

What is Laravel?   

It is a licensed framework from MIT, however, it is free and open-source with its source code hosted on Github. It works on the MVC architectural pattern and is based on the other PHP framework Symfony. Laravel is highly popular with 67.6k stars on Github. Around 650k active websites are built using Laravel. Some of the top websites built using the Laravel framework are Invoice Ninja, Alison, Barchart, Alphacoders, among many more.

Pros and Cons of Laravel

We will understand the advantages of the Laravel framework here:
● Extensive tools: Laravel comes pre-packaged with tools for tasks like user authentication, debugging, testing APIs, etc.
● Blade Templating Engine: Laravel comes with a Blade templating engine which makes writing the syntax an easier process while building complex web applications. The primary benefits of Blade are template inheritance and sections.
● Artisan CLI: Laravel’s Artisan CLI enables code automation for recurring tasks. All the boilerplates for managing databases, migrations are handled easily with the Artisan CLI.

● Reverse Routing: The reverse routing in Laravel helps in creating appropriate URLs. It specifies the relationship between the Laravel routes and URL links and the link is created based on the route name.
● Automated testing with PHPUnit: Laravel is built keeping testing in mind. All you have to do is run the PHPUnit on the command line to run the tests on any Laravel application. The PHPUnit simulates the user behavior to test all the functions in the web application.
● Query Builder with Eloquent ORM: The query builder in Laravel offers an easy interface to build all the database operations from basic DB connection to perform CRUD operations, aggregates, etc. The Eloquent Object Relational Mapper enables the developer to access the objects without the need to understand how the objects are related to the source.

Let us see the flipside of the Laravel framework now:
● Data Congestion: The lightweight feature of the Laravel framework negatively impacts the processing of database queries. It forms data congestion leading to lowered performance.
● Unreliable library integration: As the community for Laravel is large and supports and publishes a large number of third-party libraries, it becomes difficult for a developer to assess which libraries are reliable and which are not.

CodeIgniter Vs Laravel

In this section, we will compare the two PHP frameworks – Laravel and CodeIgniter:

Learning Curve:

CodeIgniter with its smaller footprint is easier for a beginner to learn and master. Laravel with its many additional features is a little difficult to learn.
CodeIgniter wins.

Performance and Speed:

Laravel-based applications are said to be slow although the community suggests that the speed can be improved. Nevertheless, CodeIgniter applications are said to be fast and scalable.
CodeIgniter wins.

Connectivity with other DBMS:

CodeIgniter and Laravel both support Oracle, MySQL, MS SQL Server, IBM DB2, PostgreSQL, CodeIgniter supports Power BI, and MongoDB as well. However, Laravel does not extend support to MongoDB natively.
CodeIgniter wins.


Laravel is the most popular PHP framework and many experienced developers prefer Laravel while CodeIgniter is also well-known for its ease of use.
Laravel wins.

Built-in Modules:

Laravel is designed with many built-in modularity features. It allows the developers to divide the complex web application development by dividing it into small modules. CodeIgniter, on the other hand, supports modularity by using Expression Engine.
Laravel wins.

Template Engine:

Laravel comes with an in-built template engine called Blade. CodeIgniter does not have an in-built feature for this, however, can connect with template engine tools like smarty for simple tasks and improving performance.
Laravel wins.

Community and documentation:

Laravel and CodeIgniter, both have plenty of documentation and community help which is very extensive and elaborate.
Both draw.

Unit Testing:

Laravel helps its developers to test and debug continuously using PHPUnit. CodeIgniter does not come with an in-built feature for testing. They need to use third-party testing tools to assess application code.
Laravel wins.

Programming paradigm:

While Laravel is component-oriented, CodeIgniter is object-oriented and event-driven.


Authentication in Laravel is achieved by the Authentication Class feature while CodeIgniter does not come with in-built authentication. The developers need to write custom extensions for CodeIgniter to achieve authentication.
Laravel wins.


Although CodeIgniter is easier to learn and has its set of benefits, Laravel has an edge over CodeIgniter when it comes to popularity, features, or elegance. However, CodeIgniter and Laravel are both used based on the application requirement. For a better insight into when to use what, contact our technical team for in-depth analysis.

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