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What is Phalcon?
Phalcon is a modern, full stack open-source PHP framework written in the C programming language, as a C-extension. Phalcon uses the standard MVC (Model, View, Controller) architecture implemented in object-oriented classes, and integrates features like ORM (Object-Relational Mapping), templating engine, request object library, caching, pagination, etc.
What makes Phalcon stand out from other PHP frameworks is its exceptional speed and low resource consumption. In general, PHP's major drawback is that every request from the client causes all files to be loaded from the hard drive, translated into bytecode and executed. In Phalcon, the whole framework is stored in RAM, so there is no processing of framework files. This method has some serious speed advantages and makes Phalcon one of the fastest PHP frameworks out there.
The Phalcon framework is available as a free download from phalconphp.com and the install process takes just a few minutes. Detailed installation instructions can be found online.
The Phalcon PHP framework is open source, so using Phalcon will not incur any additional costs with your hosting provider. Since Phalcon is open source, you can always modify and recompile the source code, should you need to.
What About Database Support?
Phalcon uses its own ORM, PHQL (Phalcon Query Language) for database interaction. The following database engines are supported: MySQL, PostgreSQL, SQLite and Oracle.
Microsoft SQL is not officially supported out of the box, but you can implement it and create your own database adapter.
Instructions on how to add Microsoft SQL support to Phalcon can be found online. The process should not be problematic, especially if you've dealt with PHP and Microsoft SQL in the past.
How to Install Phalcon
Phalcon is available as a zipped download, but it can be installed using cPanel, as a one click installation. In any case, the installation should be ready to use within a few minutes.
Phalcon is installed as a PHP extension, unlike other PHP frameworks that are usually simply extracted to a directory. Manual installation is a bit more complicated, but detailed instructions are available online, and you should be able to set it up without problems.
It is important to note that Phalcon can't be installed on shared hosting plans unless you have ssh root access. Be sure to check this if you are planning on using Phalcon on a shared hosting plan.
Phalcon Cost and Licensing
The Phalcon PHP framework is open source and completely free to use. It usually doesn't require any changes to your hosting package, assuming you have a serious hosting package. On shared hosting plans be sure to check if your host allows ssh root access, as Phalcon will not run without it.
Phalcon is released under the new BSD license, which means that you are allowed to redistribute and use both binaries and source code of Phalcon under the condition that you retain the copyright notice, the list of conditions and the disclaimer. In other words, licensing is a nonissue.
There are many other open source PHP frameworks available, but none can match the speed of the Phalcon framework. If framework speed is not you primary concern, you can check out alternative PHP frameworks.
Phalcon Pros and Cons
- The fastest open source PHP framework available
- Phalcon implements the MVC architecture, which means a clear isolation of business logic from the UI and the Database layer
- Phalcon is written in C and that's where the high performance comes from
- If you are familiar with the C language you can easily modify the source of the framework
- Support for major database engines, MSSQL support can be added manually
- Very good and detailed online documentation and user guides
- Support is available from the community on the Phalcon forum and Phalcon IRC channel
- Since Phalcon needs to be added as an extension to PHP, to get it running on a shared hosting plan you need ssh root access, and many hosting plans do not allow that
- Phalcon source code is written in C, and if you are not familiar with C it may be difficult to modify the source if necessary
Points to Remember
If you are looking for a fast PHP framework, you must give Phalcon a try. Do remember that Phalcon requires ssh root access in order to run, and this can be an issue on shared hosting plans.
Phalcon source is written in C, so if you plan to make changes to the framework source code, extensive experience in the good old C language is required.
Phalcon requires PHP version 5.4 or higher with development resources, and your host must also support mod_rewrite, which is an Apache module that can change the appearance of a URL dynamically and is supported by most hosts.
Phalcon runs on Windows, Linux/Solaris, Mac OS X and FreeBSD operating systems, provided they meet these requirements.