Here it is. One more PHP Framework vs PHP Framework Battle. Let us compare the popularity of 3 mayor PHP Frameworks: Yii2 vs Symfony2 vs Laravel. Why does this matter? You really need to pick a Framework that has very vibrant, active and helpful community. By doing so you make sure that you will find answers to your questions, that you will get new employees for your startup and that it will be maintained in the future.
Let's start with Google Search Trends:
Devs are searching 2x more often for "Yii" than for "Symfony2". So maybe the search term "Yii" is beeing used a lot of times for something else than the Framework? So let's do another one to approve that:
The results speak for themselves.
Lets continue with some github analytics and focus on "stars" and "contributors" only.
Somehow these numbers emphasize my personal feelings about these 3 PHP Frameworks.
So, last but not least, Stackoverflow. Let's check how many questions have been tagged with Yii2, Symfony2 and Laravel.
Symfony seems to be the winner here. If i browse trough the results it also seems and feels that the Symfony2 community is very helpful and active on stackoverflow. Yii2 is still very young. So let's do a quick check for "Yii" without the "2".
So Yii has a similar stackoverflow community as Laravel.
Conclusion (only based on this fast and dirty hype research):
All 3 Frameworks are very popular. Laravel seems to be the winner regarding it's popularity and that it is still very young. However, Symfony2 and Yii2 do have a wider contributor list. Symfony2 has a very active, some call it "fanatic", community base. Yii2 has a very solid core developer team.
Best regards from Berlin,