I have been corresponding with one of our readers who has been interested to learn about my recommendations for Prado vs. Code Igniter or other frameworks. I thought it might be interesting to the rest of you to hear my recommendations as well, as there seems to be very little material out there regarding Prado. Below are the relevant portions of my initial recommendation:
Code Igniter and Prado are very different approaches to frameworks, so it really depends on what you are looking for. Prado has an everything-and-the-kitchen-sink approach and use a Code Behind pattern from separating look and logic.
Code Igniter is very light-weight framework, but much more easily extended, and it uses the Model-View-Controller pattern to separate look and logic.
Prado has some built in internationalization support (http://www.pradosoft.com/demos/quickstart/?page=Advanced.I18N), but if you decide on Code Igniter, this may help: http://codeigniter.com/wiki/Category:Internationalization::Internationalization_Views_i18n/
As for web services, both have some built in support for the more popular services, and I’m sure that no matter which service you are looking for, someone has implemented it for Code Igniter.
Overall, I am personally a big fan of the Code Igniter framework, mostly because it is the one I have used the most. Prado (as you can see from my benchmarking post) has some performance issues and is significantly more difficult to learn. Code Igniter is also more easily expandable. However, I have had issues with Code Igniter on very large applications.
In summary, I would recommend Code Igniter only for simple or medium-difficulty applications. If you are creating a blogging system or very basic shopping cart, or even a web forum, I would say Code Igniter is the way to go to make your life easier. If you are building more complex applications that involve large amounts of form processing, more complicated calculations or if you are already familiar with some form of code behind (ASP .Net for example) then Prado would be more to your liking.
On a final note, if you are interested in something with much more complex and fine-grained permission management, I have found that CakePHP has the cleanest and most intuitive access control list implementations out of any framework and it is well integrated with the rest of the framework.
At this point the reader pointed out some anomalies in my recommendation, so I had to rethink my position somewhat. The most glaring issue being that the Prado Benchmarks post I made shows major performance issues with Prado, so why would I recommend it for larger applications?
With Code Igniter, I found a lot of issues with mapping URI’s to controllers for more complicated URLs. This becomes a very big problem when you need to do advanced filtering. As I noted in my Fugitive Thought post on Pretty URLs, Code Igniter does not allow you to use both the nice URL mapping along with GETs, which means that if I want to filter by any more than 1 field, I have to either write a lot of extra code to figure out which parameters are provided, which are not and assign them to proper variables, or else I have to give up the pretty URLs in favor of everything being pure $_GET values and all pages going to index.php. For example, if I have an advanced search that I want people to be able to bookmark / link to with three different fields, a normal search file would have a URI like this:
With Code Igniter, I can easily map /blogs/search to a specific controller, but I cannot use the $_GET values at the same time. What I have to do is generate something that will use this instead:
This is all well and good, but what happens when each of these fields is optional? There are some obvious solutions, but they all require to implement extra code simply because the framework is saying “no”. I ran into a few other aggravating issues with Code Igniter as well that felt like they were limiting me far too much on large applications that need more complicated features, including session management and permission handling, etc.
Don’t get me wrong, Code Igniter does a LOT of things right, and it is very lightweight. If you put in the proper add-ins like the Smarty templating engine and make use of its template compilation and caching, you can do a lot of advanced stuff and keep it very fast. The reason I recommended Prado for larger applications despite the benchmarks is that a lot of the Prado stuff seems to scale fairly decently. The benchmarks I have displayed are ludicrously slow for a small application, but I don’t think it gets too much worse as you grow into larger applications because that overhead is a result of loading pretty much the entire framework in the beginning. I’m not positive, but I’m reasonably sure that the overhead can be mitigated with caching. And if the application is very large, then you are going to have some loading overhead anyway, and the very large suite of features that Prado handles will make up for a lot of the overhead in a lower development time and easier to debug code.
Code Igniter is nice for adding in just about any existing library because of the way they implement the “libraries” features; any existing class that does not rely on $_GET variables to the URL will pretty much just drop right in. This makes it wonderfully expandable, but also adds in a lot of redundancy when you need a lot of libraries since they are all disparate and not integrated and end up re-implementing a lot of the same features, whereas Prado has a lot of the features already built in and integrated to the framework so that all components can share a lot of features and code.
Akelos looks interesting, but you’re right about it being very young. One reason that both Prado and Code Igniter are high on my recommendation list is the amount of documentation. That really is priceless in making a framework usable. If you decide to go with something like Akelos, I recommend using an IDE with IntelliSense (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IntelliSense) if you don’t already (Eclipse PDT is very nice for PHP intellisense! – http://www.eclipse.org/pdt/. NuSphere’s PHPed is also good, but it costs).