Although Laravel and Symfony are both PHP web development frameworks, one should always use what is best suited for the work. In order to decide what is best, we need to look at both, the pros and cons of the options.
Pros and Cons: Laravel VS Symfony
Laravel offers simplicity and is a comprehensive structure that provides you with everything in the standard edition. As compared to Symfony standard edition, Laravel is very easy to write migrations with and has code generation possibilities with almost everything, although not required. Further, it has a front-end integration, which if you are a beginner is a plus point, and is not available with Symfony SE. In addition to that, the dependency injection container in Laravel offers the possibility of automation of the creating services. It also makes it easy to bypass dependency injection by providing easy access to a service. Further it helps you produce things fast even if you don’t have much knowledge in the field, and supports auto-wiring, one thing that Symfony doesn’t do.
With all the pros, come the cons of keeping convention over configuration in the framework. With opposite being the true, a lot of things would have been easier, which currently require deeper changes in the file structure and overriding hard coded values. Although it is still possible, it requires checking of all the hard coded usage, extension of each class and domination of the registration to a complex class. In addition to that, in order to make the debug model configurable you have to change both the bootstrapping process and the debug provider, which is troublesome in its own way. Although it has aliases to reduce namespaces, however it reduces the chances of auto-completion and validation.
Laravel is actually based on Symfony components, and is more than 50% dependent on Symfony for components and features, that are not re-usable. Further, Laravel components are not “semver”, which is a major drawback as most of the PHP libraries are “semver” and it makes Laravel sometimes incompatible to those libraries.
As compared to Laravel, Symfony has three different characteristics, including its components i.e., plain PHP libraries that are re-usable everywhere, the core Symfony framework that provides a configuration system and a Dependency Injection Container, and the Symfony standard edition that fits in almost all categories of uses.
The most distinctive pros of Symfony include its adaptability and speed, avoiding extra coding, which makes it compatible for advanced level developers being more configuration friendly. As Laravel is not compatible for preparing a library of configurations, Symfony is compatible of documentation and validation of codes to create libraries, supporting all PHP, XML and YAML files when Laravel can only support PHP.
Where Laravel only supports basic Dependency Injection Containers, Symfony takes it to the next level by more libraries, advanced tagging system and greater performance optimization. Further, where Laravel provides only one front-controller, Symfony offers two, both for “regular” and “dey” modes, helping you run your application in two different modes at the same time, with “dey” mode being ready without complex caching that Laravel requires making it possible.
With Symfony Form component, which is not a Laravel thing, you can have validation messages and translations automatically ready, without doing any extra work. In addition to that, Symfony makes advanced cache configuration possible for you that help you do whatever you want. Further, you also have several Debug commands like routing, container, translation, configuration and all others in Symfony, which is a dream for Laravel users.
Symphony is a more enterprise level to use because it is easier to configure and extend, plus it supports more industry grade and enterprise grade, grand tools as many big companies use XML and XLF standards that are only available easily in Symfony. In addition to that, Symfony also has a backward compatibility policy and semver, which are both expressive and persuasive for big companies and not available in Laravel.
The best is always the one that optimizes the product you get. Symfony allows that in terms of design, cache, class and services. The compilation steps available in Symfony exposes you to service definitions, different file formats, services, and validated configurations.
What to Choose? Laravel or Symfony?
With all the pros, the major cons of Symfony includes its complexity, advanced nature and difficulty to understand with all the jargons involved, that make it complicated for initial users. Therefore, it has a very steep learning curve, that makes it unusable for many people, but once you start learning it, you get used to it and it becomes easier to implement in your area of interest.
Thus, Laravel is more opinionated and rubyesque, Symfony is more javaesque and much more configurable. Therefore, although complex and difficult to use at first, Symfony is better because once you understand it, it gets easier, compatible and better, with more functions than Laravel and better optimization. Hence becomes something you can make most of, and once you use it you don’t need to go here and there for the things you require, you get an all in one package.