What can you say. Zend Framework might be best php has to offer, but it is still same old php.
Frameworks like Codeigniter or Zend Framework bring a huge amount of professionalism to php development, but compared to java infrastructure and development practices it is still a pain.
Naturally I am biased as I have accustomed myself to the best practices maven, junit, hibernate and spring framework brings to a programmer – but then again you can do subjective comparison by just going through api and reference documentations of Zend Framework and Spring Framework. Which one provides clearer and more understandable framework to build on top of? Your mileage may vary, but for me Spring Framework’s javadocs and reference documentation provide much more concise and professional image, and more importantly keep those promises described in the documentation.
The good thing in Zend Framework is that it exists. It is much better foundation to work with than many others – or homegrown options. But it is not fun.
Luckily I am doing just a very simple MVC-development, which fits perfectly with the standard usage patterns of Zend, and I can utilize few key modules and helpers to build what I need. Good thing in this experience is that I now know – with some hands on experience – what Zend Framework is, and also know that being really productive and professional with it, would require much more time investment than I am about to put into php.