FuelPHP - Architecture Overview


FuelPHP is based on battle tested Model-View-Controller architecture along with HMVC (Hierarchical MVC) support. While MVC provides flexible and layered application development, HMVC goes one step further to enable widgetization of the web application.

The strength of FuelPHP is that it does not enforce specific ways to develop an application. It just provides a simple and easy-to-use standard structure. Developers are free to use the pre-defined set of functionality provided by FuelPHP or modify it whenever needed. All the features provided by FuelPHP including the core feature can be changed according to the requirement of the application.


Model is the business entity of the application. Controller and View exchange data in the form of Model. Model enables uniform representation of our business data. It enables the database layer to interact with the web application layer in the standard way and provides an option to select, save, edit, and delete our database entities.


A typical MVC application starts from a Controller. Once a user sends a request to the FuelPHP web application, the application gathers all the information about the request and sends it to the Controller. Controller does the required business logic of the requested page and then calls the relevant View along with the processed data in the form of Models.


View is the presentation layer of the MVC application. View decides how to show the Model to the user. It supports simple data rendering to the advanced layout, which enables the website to normalize the design across all the pages. View also provides theming support, which enables quick design change across the application.


Presenter is a special feature provided by FuelPHP. It is the glue between Controller and View. Controller can share some of its low level responsibility such as retrieving model from database, generating data for the view, etc. Controller calls Presenter instead of View, which in turn calls View. Presenter enables pure separation of business logic and presentation layer.

Hierarchical MVC

FuelPHP provides an option to call one controller from another controller, similar to the request from the client (browser). If any controller calls another controller, the called controller will return the response to the calling controller instead of rendering it to the client (browser). This enables widgetization of the web application. For example, the comment section can be showed as a stand-alone page as well as a sub-section of the main (blog) page.


One of the salient features of FuelPHP is that a section of the web application can be converted into modules, which can be shared among the different application. For example, a blog module created for an application can be reused in another application by just copying the module code from source application to target application.

Note that creating a new module is as simple as developing the main application. The structure is similar to the main application with the only exception that the module should be coding a separate folder.


FuelPHP provides an option to organize the code into a single unit called Package. A package can contain one or more functionality needed for the web application. For example, a database component such as ORM, email, etc., can be organized into a package and used whenever needed.

A Package is different from a Module in the sense that the Package does not contain any web pages or partial web pages. Package can be used in FuelPHP as well as any other PHP framework.


The workflow of the FuelPHP is simple and easy to understand. It is depicted in the following diagram.

  • User sends a request to the application.

  • Controller receives the request and gathers information by interacting with the model, which in turn interacts with the database.

  • Controller gathers information by interacting with other controller by sending a subrequest to the other controllers.

  • Controller sends the retrieved model to the view, which in turn generates the presentation and sends it to the client as a response.

  • In some cases, the controller may pass the control to the presenter. In that case, the presenter gathers information from the model and sends it to the client. Here, the presenter does not perform any business logic, except retrieve the model from the database.