Just like the title says, are there any PHP web application frameworks that don't use a front controller?
The Front Controller Pattern is a software design pattern listed in several pattern catalogs. The pattern relates to the design of web applications. It "provides a centralized entry point for handling requests."
The front controller may be implemented as a Java object, or as a script in a script language like PHP, ASP, CFML or JSP that is called on every request of a web session. This script, for example an index.php, would handle all tasks that are common to the application or the framework, such as session handling, caching, and input filtering. Based on the specific request it would then instantiate further objects and call methods to handle the particular task(s) required.
The alternative to a front controller would be individual scripts like login.php and order.php that would each then satisfy the type of request. Each script would have to duplicate code or objects that are common to all tasks. But each script might also have more flexibility to implement the particular task required.