CakePHP Vs CodeIgniter: Who wins the tug-of-war ?


CakePHP and CodeIgniter are PHP frameworks that are often used in the similar parlance and easily interchangeable. It is never easy to pick the best out of two similar frameworks like CakePHP and CodeIgniter that provide the developer facilities and challenges in equal measure. An in-depth comparison between the two on different criteria can help one understand the strengths and weaknesses of each of the two frameworks and thereby take an informed decision. CakePHP and CodeIgniter are PHP frameworks that are quite similar to each other resulting in comparisons and each having separate fan clubs. Both the frameworks attempt to create MVC (Model-View-Controller) architecture and use routing methods. Let’s compare the two frameworks on top 10 features and understand why a developer would prefer one over the other.

  • Simplicity: Most first-time users would bet all their money on CodeIgniter for its simplicity. CakePHP can seem overwhelming as it sticks to the convention. In that sense, CodeIgniter lets you have flexibility in the order of calling the functions. However, CakePHP supports automation via its “automagic” feature that lets a developer code in a jiffy. For developers who do not mind convention, the benefits of automagic feature definitely tilt the balance in favour of CakePHP.
  • Documentation: Documentation plays an important role when a user starts working on the framework for the first time. While both frameworks have their documentation in place, CodeIgniter with its wiki seemed (so far) to be far more organized than CakePHP’s bakery in its documentation. Again, the newer version of CakePHP seems to have its loose ends tightened to have with a better documentation model. So, while CodeIgniter enjoyed an upper hand earlier, the tussle seems to be evenly poised as far as this feature goes.
  • Scaffolding: Scaffolding is an automatic generation of a view based on the model. CakePHP’s scaffolding allows the developer to define and create a basic application that can create, retrieve and delete objects. CodeIgniter’s scaffolding provides a convenient way to add, delete or edit information in the database but has been deprecated from version 1.6.0. CodeIgniter also provides the developer an option to create secured scaffolding using a keyword in the URL lending it a slight edge over CakePHP.
  • Code-generation: CakePHP scores a point over CodeIgniter in this regard with its Bake Console that allows the developer to generate codes from the console. With the help of the Bake console, a developer can create models, views and controllers very easily. CodeIgniter does not have this feature and requires a separate plugin.
  • Model: CodeIgniter is loosely based on the MVC architecture that separates application logic from presentation. It allows the developer to incorporate own scripts without a model but using only the controllers and views. CakePHP automatically loads in the model that matches the controller and also allows easy querying by associating all data with the model. This comes in as a handy tool to manage and retrieve data for different aspects of a model. For instance, retrieving all the comments related to a particular blog post.
  • Validation: CodeIgniter uses validation class to define objects. The data is validated via URL or form. The validation class also helps to automate error messages for specific fields. CakePHP incorporates the validation through the model A single field can even have multiple validations. Some developers could find it tedious to define all the rules within the model.
  • Views: CodeIgniter uses a simple approach much like creating an application from scratch. It allows the user to build templates, but it does not allow much flexibility beyond the built-in view. CakePHP, on the other hand, offers a default layout. With the help of automation, one can automatically link controllers to views and models. It is equally possible to define your own layout. Caching mechanisms are, however, better in CodeIgniter as opposed to CakePHP.
  • Ajax: CakePHP comes in with a built-in Ajax helper, something that is missing in CodeIgniter.
  • ORM: Object Relational Mapping is a programming technique for converting data between incompatible type systems in databases and object-oriented programming languages. CakePHP comes with ORM whereas, in CodeIgniter, one has to depend on third parties.
  • Auto-calling functions: CakePHP has certain functions that can be pre-defined to automatically get called each time a task is performed. For example, the requestAction function calls a controller’s action from any location and returns data from the action. This useful feature is missing in CodeIgniter.

So, clearly there are areas where CakePHP scores over CodeIgniter and vice-versa. With the pros and cons oscillating equally between the two PHP frameworks, it can be easily concluded that the preference over one to other is purely from a personal view and as per application requirement. If you prefer the MVC pattern then you’d naturally favor the CakePHP over CodeIgniter. However, if you are new to frameworks, you might prefer CodeIgniter since it is a lot simpler and easier to learn.

Author : Uma Chellappa Date : 30 Apr 2015