CodeIgniter is not just a web development app, it is a powerful PHP-based framework designed for PHP coders seeking simple yet effective toolkit that can inspire them to develop full-featured web applications. Developers like me live in the real world. We need to deal with all of the hassles of shared hosting accounts and clients with short deadlines. We don't need to hassle around with inadequate and mediocre development tools hampered by poorly-designed user interfaces and thin documentation. CodeIgniter solves these problems so I can focus on other, more pressing issues.
CodeIgniter allows me to save time and energy by providing tools and templates that give me a head start in the PHP game. Instead of writing PHP code by scratch, CodeIgniter writes all the basic "plumbing" for me so I can focus on the particulars of my project. I, for example, frequently take advantage of CodeIgniter's built-in libraries instead of writing everything myself. With CodeIgniter, you can easily organize the different sections of the PHP application including configuration files, controllers, models, scripts and views. In the past I found many PHP development environments (IDEs) to be clunky, out-dated, and unmanageable. CodeIgniter is different. Its easy-to-use IDE gives you access to all of your files in a clear, organized fashion. It is simple and intuitive, allowing you to create great web pages with little prep-time.
One thing that sets CodeIgniter apart from many other PHP web development applications is that it easily handles all PHP versions and configurations, an important feature for developers who work in diverse environments with many different clients, each having their own PHP web hosting solution. If you are like me, you hardly spend all of your time in heterogeneous environments. That doesn't matter with CodeIgniter. It will happily work with whatever version or versions you want!
CodeIgniter does not require command lines, inflexible coding frameworks, or any templating languages (although it can work with templates if that is your cup of tea; it just doesn't force you to do so). The documentation is clearly written so that even non-techies can grasp the system quickly and with minimal effort. It even comes stock with a number of useful features such as classes for file uploading, email, FTP and Zip compression. Another class I found handy was the validation class, which allows you to handle data validation with rules that are defined and assigned to specific objects. You can also use data validation to create automatic error messages when data does not pass muster.
The auto-loading feature allows you to implement changes application wide by setting global models for libraries and plugins. Its included helpers cover CAPTCHA, cookie, directory, download, form, HTML, email, security and XML. If there is one thing CodeIgniter excels at, it's saving you time. It should be pretty clear to you now that CodeIgniter it full of time-saving features helping you to focus less on mundane details and more on your job's specifics.
CodeIgniter even lets you create your own libraries -- or more precisely folders of classes in your libraries directory. You can create completely new libraries, or you can extend or replace native libraries. All classes can be extended or replaced except for the database classes. If you're familiar with object-oriented programming, this feature will be a godsend for you.
You can also create your own core system classes with this application. The core system classes are run automatically every time you start the program. CodeIgniter allows you to extend, edit or completely replace the native core system classes with your own alternatives although this is only recommended for experienced coders.
CodeIgniter was a breeze for me to install. It requires PHP version 4.3.2 or newer and one of the following databases: MySQL, MySQLi, MS SQL, ODBC, Oracle, Postgre or SQLite. Most people (myself included) use MySQL, but it's good to know it supports some of the other big names.
Best of all, CodeIgniter is available as freeware so there is no charge for downloading and using this software! Even though EllisLab Network offers the CodeIgniter software free of charge, they still provide user forums, a wiki and a bug tracker to help support the application and its community of users.
If you are looking for the best way to streamline your PHP web development process, then CodeIgniter may be just the application that you need - I know it was for me.