It sounds like you're just getting the benefit of having a set of libraries that you like and know well. There's certainly nothing wrong with that. I might look at the Zend stuff again if I end up doing any more large PHP projects.
Maybe the problem here is the definition of "framework". In my mind the whole point of a framework is to impose itself on the programmer. Typically along the lines of:
- there shall be three tiers to your application;
- we'll call them model, view, and controller even if your app just provides an API and doesn't require a "view";
- we'll make using stored procedures really difficult;
- we'll wrap SQL with an ORM that's less powerful, slower, takes just as long to learn, and isn't used anywhere else in the industry;
- we'll replace mod_rewrite with our own request router that's less powerful, slower, takes just as long to learn, and isn't used anywhere else in the industry;
I feel the frustration level rising just remembering all this. But it sounds like you get my point quite well and, like I said, I'll take a second look at Zend based on your comments - thanks.