Extensive Guide on Best PHP REST API Framework


PHP REST API Framework | Hevo Data

If you are a beginner programmer, chances are you used the PHP programming language to create your app. But what’s next after building your app? Your app users may need to view information from other apps before acting on your application. This can be done using PHP Rest API

If your users can access the data from a cloud service without leaving your app, they’ll start using your app more often than your competitors. They may also want to share data on your app with major social media networks like Facebook. For this, you need to use the PHP Rest API framework.

As such, if you want your users to enjoy this service on your software, you have to build an API for your app. While there are several types of APIs you can create, the REST API is the most convenient because it works with all programming languages and data formats. It is also suitable for most protocols (HTTP, IP, etc.). This article covers the best PHP API framework you can use to build your customized REST API.

Table of Contents

What is REST API?

PHP REST API: REST API Diagram | Hevo Data
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Rest API is an API that allows programmers to send and receive information from other programs using HTTP protocol commands such as GET and POST. Although REST API works with most protocols, it is specially designed for transmitting data through the HTTP protocol. 

When a user requests the data on an app that uses REST API, the API communicates the request to the server through an HTTP method. It then receives a response and relays it to the application (or client) in JSON format. Usually, such data contains the requested information and the status code.

If you are creating a REST API, it might help to understand basic HTTP protocol methods and status codes.

HTTP Protocol MethodUsage
POSTUsed to build a new resource on a remote server
GETUsed to retrieve data from a server
PUTUsed to edit existing resources on the server
DELETETo delete a resource

Once you send your request to the server, the server will return the requested data as well as the HTTP status code. The HTTP status code tells you whether or not your request was successful.

Standard status codes are:

  • 200: Your request was received successfully.
  • 404: The server could not find the resource you requested.
  • 301: Your request has been redirected to another URL.

What are the Rules for Building REST APIs?

You must build your REST API according to these guidelines:

  • Client-Server Distinction: The client (your application) must be clearly distinguished from the server. While the client covers request-gathering and user experience, access to external data and the app’s security are strictly the server’s jurisdiction.
  • Uniform Interface: There should be a standard format by which the client receives responses from the server. Having a uniform interface also means that the resources can only be manipulated when you request data with HTTP Protocol commands.
  • Stateless: The client should not be designed to remember previous requests.
  • Code-on-Demand: A REST API should allow servers to send executable code to the client.
  • Cacheable Data: A REST API should be able to cache client-server interactions.
  • Layered System: Your Rest API should have a layered system that groups all servers involved in previous client requests into a hierarchy.
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How to Build a Simple REST API in PHP?

  • Step 1: If you already have PHP installed on your computer, you can skip this step. If not, download it here. Install it once it has been downloaded to your PC.
  • Step 2: You must set up a server because PHP is a server-side language. You are free to use any services. You may download XAMPP from this link, which we are using. Once it has finished downloading, install it. Then launch XAMPP and launch the Apache Web Server.
  • Step 3: Go to the location where XAMPP was installed now. You’ll find the htdocs directory inside. Create the rest-api folder in this directory. Open your chosen code editor and navigate to this directory.
  • Step 4: Next, inside rest-api, create a new directory called server. Make a directory inside of this one called API, then inside of that directory, make a file called hello.php. You will write the routes in this file. Copy and paste the following code there:
header("Access-Control-Allow-Origin: *");
// get request method
if ($method == 'GET') {
if ($method == 'POST') {
if ($method == 'PUT') {
if ($method == 'DELETE') {

As you can see, I have the origin header for access control set to all. This implies that anyone can use this API. I then look at the request method to determine the HTTP method the client used to submit the request.

When you are finished, visit URL – http://localhost/rest-api/server/api/test.php. You will see a message that says ” This is a GET Request”. Because the browser’s address bar is used to call an API, the GET request is now being processed.

That’s basically it. You now understand how to build a basic REST API in PHP.

What are the Best PHP Rest API Frameworks?

A REST API framework is a code library that allows programmers to build their customized REST APIs. Here are a few of the best PHP REST API frameworks that you can find in the marketplace:


PHP REST API: Laravel | Hevo Data
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Laravel is an open-source API framework that lets programmers build their Rest API using the Model-View-Controller architecture. The Model-View-Controller helps programmers focus on one aspect of development at a time by dividing the API creation process into three parts: Model, View, and Controller.

One main strength of Laravel is that it provides many opportunities for configurations. It contains many extensions and derivatives which users can manipulate to develop their customized API. 

Laravel also provides numerous ebooks and posts on its website to guide programmers through their API creation process. Considering that the REST API framework is also free to use, it seems to be the best option for beginners.


PHP REST API: Lumen | Hevo Data
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A Lumen is a great option for developers who want to build lightning-fast APIs. Lumen is a micro-API framework made out of Laravel. Specially designed for building REST APIs, this framework cuts off all Laravel features that restrict stateless APIs. Instead, it focuses on what is useful to REST APIs. This is why Lumen is such a lightweight framework.

That said, Lumen still enjoys some of the benefits that Laravel offers. There are still a lot of configurations that programmers can deploy for building their APIs. 

In addition, this framework has a function that correlates with each of the basic HTTP protocol methods: 

  • Create for POST
  • Read for GET
  • Update for PUT
  • Delete for DELETE

 Before you can use Lumen to build your API, you must have installed PHP >= 7.2 and Composer on your computer. PHP extensions like PDO, OpenSSL, and Mbstring will also prove useful for the REST API creation process.


PHP REST API: Guzzle | Hevo Data
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The appeal of the Guzzle API framework lies in its provision of easy methods for sending HTTP requests and creating REST clients. It also has a simple interface, which makes it easy for developers to navigate the framework. 

Some of the features of the Guzzle API framework that makes it perfect for building REST APIs are:

  • Caching: REST APIs need this feature to cache client-server requests.
  • Batching: This feature allows APIs to send as many requests as possible in an efficient manner.

PHP REST API: Epiphany

PHP REST API: Epiphany | Hevo Data
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Epiphany is a perfect fit for developers who desire a simple, clear-cut API creation process. The documentation on the Epiphany API framework file states the conventions you must observe while writing code for your API. 

Below are the specific features of this API framework that work for REST APIs:

  • Routing: This feature allows APIs to outline paths for HTTP functions.
  • API Helper Module: The API helper module is useful for building both public and private APIs.
  • Caching: Epiphany offers a caching library where Rest APIs can store client-server interactions.


We have explained the concept of Rest API and the rules guiding the creation of REST APIs. We have also examined the best API frameworks you can use in. Choose a suitable option among these PHP REST API Frameworks, and start building a REST API for your application.

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Isola Saheed Ganiyu
Technical Content Writer, Hevo Data

Isola is a freelance writer specializing in the domains of data integration and data analysis. He has a passion towards creating engaging and educational content, breaking down these sophisticated subjects for easily understanding.

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