I’m certainly not the first to make the switch and I’m certain I won’t be the last. For years, CodeIgniter was my framework of choice for PHP applications of almost any size. The URI classes, simple helper integration and MVC structure were easy to use and light enough to stay out of the way during application development. For my most recent project, I needed something more modular, possibly with a full blown HMVC integration.

After extensive research into HMVC options for CodeIgniter, I stumbled upon fuel and the core functions they had built in from the bottom up. After a few days of reading, I was sold on the idea of using fuel for my newest project. It’s been a few weeks now and I can definitely say that this was a decision I will never regret. Rather than going into a discussion of the differences between CodeIgniter and fuelPHP (which has been done before quite well), I will just summarize some of my favourite features.

  1. Built in Modular structure – this was the reason that led to me stumble upon fuelPHP in the first place. Fuel doesn’t force you into using modules or an HMVC file structure, but if you choose to implement them the process is well documented and quite easy to integrate. Once you start creating apps in a modular fashion, it becomes obvious why this structure has clear benefits. I won’t go into the benefits of HMVC, but a quick read around will find various questions and answers on this topic.
  2. ORM in the Core – When reading about the ORM Class in the core of fuel, I had no intentions of using it for my applications; I was always comfortable using models to extend standard SQL queries or using the Active Record class in CodeIgniter. I decided to give the ORM package a chance for one module in the new application and ended up using it for every module so far. The ORM maps a model to each table in the database, establishes the fields of the table and the relationships to other tables.
  3. Complete Flexibility – One of the many benefits of fuel is that there are very few restrictions on how you write code. Classes can be in any file structure you want, you can declare any folder as a “modules” folder, you can easily extend native classes and there are countless other examples of how fuel lets you write code in your own way.
  4. Rockstar Team Running the Show – One thing I often heard about with CodeIgniter was that EllisLab was creating CodeIgniter more to fit it’s own needs than those of the community. The slow process for change was also blamed on restrictions on community development put in place by EllisLab. It was refreshing to read up on fuelPHP and know that not only is the team made up of incredible minds, but community was the focus of development.
  5. PHP 5.3 – Although this may cause issues for some hosting environments (I had to update my own VPS to the latest version manually), the use of PHP 5.3 means that fuelPHP can take advantage of all the latest features that PHP introduced since the times of PHP 4.
  6. Community Enthusiasm – One of the biggest reasons I fell in love with CodeIgniter was the massive community following and development. Libraries and modifications were being developed and released constantly, which was helping to keep the framework moving forward when the core was moving at a slower pace. This is the same reason I have fallen in love with fuel; the community is on fire about fuel. Not only are they excited about it, but they’re helping develop modules, packages and the core at an incredible pace.

There are countless other things I have found myself loving about fuel, but these are the most obvious ones at a general level. At this point I have begun developing all my applications in a modular structure. I have been scouring GitHub for fantastic packages (like Warden) that I can extend to save time and use to learn from other experts.

I feel it is only fair to disclose the fact that much of this love has since passed. Although I still think fuelPHP has some great features and functionality, the community, development speed and brilliance over at Laravel has converted me. See you in #laravel on Freenode.