How can I become a Laravel expert

The Laravel PHP framework - web app construction for everyone

The development of web applications and websites has become easier and easier in recent years. Even the technologically challenged among us are now quite well versed in dealing with products like WordPress and Wix.

For advanced developers, there is a host of tools that simplify the development process. One of the most useful of these tools is Laravel.

This article answers the question “What is Laravel?” By providing an overview of the basics of PHP frameworks used in web development. This is followed by an overview of Laravel's features, a listing of the major structures and components of Laravel, and a description of some of the most useful Laravel packages.

What is Laravel?

The simple answer to the question “What is Laravel?” Is very simple: Laravel is a cross-platform PHP framework for developing web applications.

But to really understand the benefits of Laravel and its uses, one needs to dig deeper. Laravel enables a developer to take advantage of a large library of pre-programmed functions (such as authentication, routing and HTML template). Access to this library makes it easier to build robust web applications quickly while minimizing the amount of coding required.

Laravel offers a highly functional development environment, as well as intuitive and expressive command line interfaces. In addition, Laravel uses Object Relational Mapping (ORM) for easier data access and manipulation.

Laravel applications are highly scalable and have an easy-to-maintain code base. Thanks to Laravel's modular package system and robust dependency management, developers can seamlessly add additional functions to their applications.

Is Laravel front-end or back-end?

Laravel is primarily a back-end development framework, although it has some front-end functionality as well. However, many of Laravel's features are front-end agnostic.

Is Laravel a programming language?

Laravel is a PHP framework and uses a scripting language rather than being a strict PHP programming language. Although scripting languages ​​and programming languages ​​are related, they have some notable differences, most notably in ease of use and the speed of execution.

Script languages ​​are platform-specific, interpreted languages. In contrast, programming languages ​​are platform-independent, compiled languages. Because they are platform specific, scripting languages ​​rely on the compiler of the application in which they work.

Applications built with scripting languages ​​are compiled at runtime, which means that each statement is interpreted individually at runtime, which makes the application slower than a precompiled application. This makes the application slower than a precompiled application. Runtime compilation also causes the application to stop or shut down when it encounters a runtime error; in contrast, precompiled applications do error checking during compilation, which makes them more robust at runtime. For many users, however, the disadvantages of scripting languages ​​are more than offset by the ease of use and iteration.

What is a PHP Framework?

PHP (a recursive acronym for PHP Hypertext Preprocessor) is an open source, server-side scripting language widely used for web development. At the beginning of 2021, almost 80% of all websites were using PHP. While many may not be familiar with PHP, everyone is familiar with one of the most famous PHP applications - WordPress.

A PHP framework provides a number of code libraries with pre-programmed modules that enable the user to create applications more quickly. They provide a number of benefits for web developers, such as faster development, less need to write code, and improved security. They also help inexperienced developers establish good programming practices as they require a certain organization of the code. In addition, PHP frameworks typically require less maintenance than applications developed from scratch.

Many modern PHP frameworks are object-oriented. Because of this, it is beneficial to have a basic understanding of concepts such as classes, objects, and inheritance before getting into a framework.

An MVC diagram. (Source: Wikipedia)

PHP frameworks use a Model-View-Controller (MVC) architecture. For those unfamiliar with the MVC architecture, the model is the data for the application, along with all of the logic involved. For example, a table of subscribers can be a model. The view is the point of interaction with the user, at which the data from the model can be viewed and changed. The controller is the link between the view and the model. In other words, the controller accepts user requests, fetches the information it needs from the model, processes it, and returns it to the view.

PHP applications, such as WordPress, have a number of known vulnerabilities. The best known examples are code injection and SQL injection. Laravel includes features that help prevent SQL injection and other attacks.

However, developers should make additional efforts, such as penetration testing, to ensure the security of their applications. According to Cloud Defense IT expert Barbara Ericson, web application security consists of both penetration testing and web application firewalls that go hand in hand.

Penetration tests are more complex tests carried out by qualified cybersecurity professionals who try to break into your system with no prior knowledge of development in order to identify unpatched security holes.

Why should you use Laravel?

After answering the question “What is Laravel?”, The next question is, “Why Laravel?” Laravel offers a large set of robust tools that help make the web app development process easier and faster The applications final codebases are well structured and easy to maintain.

Some of the specific benefits of Laravel are:

Laravel is easy to learn

Laravel is relatively easy to learn if you have the right background. Laravel requires a general understanding of PHP and Object Oriented Programming Concepts (OOP) to use it effectively. At least a little knowledge of HTML is also helpful. And for any MVC architecture, it is also helpful to understand relational database management systems like MySQL or PostgreSQL.

Laravel simplifies the development process

Laravel was designed from the start to simplify tasks that arise in a wide variety of web development projects, such as routing, authentication, migration, caching, and more. Laravel makes it easy to integrate pre-built modules into an application by using intuitive and expressive command line interfaces and the composer.

Laravel also has an extensive collection of online documentation that is a great starting point for more experienced developers. A wide range of online learning resources aimed at all skill levels are also available.

Laravel has tools for developers of all levels

Laravel describes itself as a progressive framework, which means that it includes a wide variety of features that users of all levels will find useful. For example, beginners have access to starter kits for modules such as basic authentication functions. Many of these tools are discussed in more detail below.

More experienced users can use the engines on which the starter kits are based to build their own authentication processes and integrate them into their preferred front ends.

Laravel scales effortlessly

Laravel is highly scalable. With integrated support for fast, distributed cache systems, Laravel applications are able to address millions of requests per month. Laravel also offers a serverless deployment platform, Vapor, which is based on AWS and offers a high level of scalability.

Laravel has a huge ecosystem and community

Laravel has an enormous ecosystem that is supported by a large developer community. Since Laravel is one of the most widely used PHP frameworks, the library of Laravel applications and packages available is considerable. Both official Laravel packages and third-party packages are readily available.

Laravel's official packages (many of which are discussed below) include authentication, server management, subscription billing, browser testing and automation, and more. Third-party packages are available from a number of websites, including Packalyst and Laravel News.

There is also a huge amount of information provided by the Laravel developer community. Developers with questions are sure to find an answer by visiting one of the many Laravel forums such as Laravel.io, The Laravel subreddit, and Laracasts.

Laravel is widespread

Many companies use Laravel to create highly functional websites:

Vacations by Rail is a train travel planning website created with the Laravel PHP framework. It is also integrated with Softrip's booking engine.

Setapp's website with curated apps for Mac and iOS was also created with the Laravel PHP framework.

Restaurants.com's restaurant search is very intuitive to use thanks to the fact that it was built with Laravel Mobile App Templates.

What is Laravel doing?

Laravel's range of functions is far too extensive to be fully covered in this brief overview. A few of the most important features are:

Route handling

Laravel provides simple and intuitive route handling by using simple names to identify routes instead of long path names. Using route identifiers also makes it easier for applications to maintain because the route name can be changed in one place instead of having to change it all over the place. All Web Interface routes in a Laravel application are registered in the routes / web.php file.

security

Laravel includes a number of security functions, such as user authentication, user role authorizations, email verification, encryption services, password hashing and password reset functions.

migration

Laravel provides version control for application databases through migrations. Migrations track how a database has changed over time, making it easier to destroy or recreate the database if necessary.

Templating

Blade is Laravel's PHP template engine. PHP templating engines help separate the business logic from the HTML templates, resulting in a code base that is easier to maintain. Many of Laravel's features are based on blade templates. Blade offers more functionality than other template engines because Blade allows you to use simple PHP code that others don't.

Sessions

Laravel uses sessions to store information about the user across multiple requests. Cookies are an example of a built-in Laravel session driver.

Data validation

Laravel makes it easy to validate incoming user data. Laravel includes a number of data validation rules with customizable error messages.

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Cache handling

Laravel supports data caching to minimize application task processing times. Laravel's Cache API supports a variety of third-party cache backends such as Memcached and Redis.

Error handling

Error handling is automatically configured when starting a new Laravel project. Laravel applications can run in debug mode, which generates detailed error messages for any errors that occur.

Testing

Laravel offers extensive test options out of the box. Laravel supports both unit tests, which test small, isolated sections of application code, and feature tests, which test larger sections of code and higher-level functions.

Storage and file management

Laravel uses the Flysystem PHP package to provide drivers to work with a variety of file systems, from local file systems to cloud-based storage like Amazon S3. Laravel also offers the ability to transfer files using the SSH File Transfer Protocol (SFTP).

e-mail

Laravel includes an email API based on the SwiftMailer library that allows you to send email through a service of choice. Laravel supports email attachments and email queues.

Notifications

Laravel supports sending notifications through a number of channels, be it through popular channels like SMS or Slack, or through channels developed by the Laravel community.

How does Laravel work?

To best understand what Laravel can do, it is important to understand how Laravel handles requests, i.e. the request lifecycle. As already mentioned, Laravel is based on an MVC architecture and responds to requests from users, which the controller uses to retrieve and process data from the model and present the information to the user in a view.

A request enters a Laravel application via the public / index.php file, which loads the rest of the framework and retrieves an instance of the Laravel application. After getting the application instance, the request is forwarded to the console kernel or HTTP kernel.

Among other tasks, the kernel defines a selection of bootstrappers that perform tasks that must be completed before the request is processed, as well as the definition of any middleware that requests must go through before processing. These tasks also include loading service providers that are required for the application.

As soon as the bootstrapping is complete and the service providers have been registered, the request is forwarded to the router, which then forwards the request to a route or a controller. In addition, the router executes any required route-specific middleware. After the request has passed through all the necessary middleware, execution of a route or controller method returns a response that is chain-fed back to the view.

How do you start with Laravel?

To get started with Laravel, it is necessary to understand some of the main structures and functionalities in Laravel.

Service container

The service container is one of the core components of Laravel. Service containers manage class dependencies and dependency injection.

Laravel Service Container. (Source: Christopher Rumpel)

Service containers are the place where a developer ties everything that is necessary to run a Laravel application.

Service provider

Equally important are the Laravel service providers, in which classes and dependencies are injected into the service containers.

Facades

A facade is a static interface for classes that are bound in the service container. Facades create ease of use by providing easy-to-remember syntax as a proxy for a long class name.

Packages

Packages are the way functionality is added to Laravel. There are both stand-alone packages and application-specific packages. Service providers tell Laravel where to load package resources.

Like many other local development tools, Laravel relies on Docker. Docker is a container-based tool that makes it easier for developers to build and deploy their applications. With the help of Docker containers, a developer packs his application with its dependencies and makes it available as a single package.

Command line interfaces

Laravel includes a number of command line interfaces (CLIs). The Artisan Console contains commands to help developers quickly create skeleton code, simplify and automate repetitive tasks, and more easily complete an application build. Sail is a lighter command line interface that was introduced in Laravel 8. With Sail, the developer can interact with Docker, Laravel's standard development environment.

Eloquent

Eloquent is an object-relational mapper (ORM) that enables easy interaction with databases. Using the MVC architecture, the models correspond to the individual tables in a database. With Eloquent, developers can rely on being quick to find, easy to insert and update, and intuitive definition of relationships.

Composer

Composer is a PHP tool for managing third-party application-level dependencies. Composer manages the libraries, modules and plug-ins required by a Laravel application.

Homestead

Laravel Homestead is a development environment that enables development on a virtual machine by providing a pre-made Vagrant box.Homestead includes everything needed to develop Laravel applications, including PHP, MySQL, Nginx, Composer, Redis, and much more, so the developer doesn't need to install these packages on their local machine. However, Homestead requires Vagrant and either VirtualBox or Parallels to be installed.

Authentication starter kits

Laravel includes a number of packages to help developers get started quickly. Before you get started, be sure to check out some of the many resources available to learn Laravel. Laravel includes a number of starter kits that help the developer to implement common functions quickly.

Laravel Breeze is an authentication starter kit. It includes common authentication and user account functions such as user registration, login, email verification, password confirmation and reset. Breeze also includes a Javascript front end through Vue. Breeze has a standard view layer that uses blade templates and Tailwind CSS.

For advanced authentication functions, Laravel now offers Jetstream, which was first introduced in version 8. In addition to the features of Breeze, Jetstream offers further advanced features such as two-factor authentication, session management, API support via Laravel Sanctum and optional team management.

For developers who prefer to use their own authentication frontend, Laravel offers Fortify - an authentication backend that is frontend agnostic. Fortify is the engine for the Jetstream authentication starter kit and includes all Laravel authentication features (e.g. user registration, login, email verification, two-factor authentication, etc.). Fortify is not the underlying engine for Laravel Breeze.

Laravel also offers social media based authentication (OAuth) through Laravel Socialite.

For developers who want to deploy their applications with minimal server configuration or even want serverless deployment, Laravel offers Forge and Vapor. Forge enables deployment across a wide variety of infrastructure providers with minimal configuration. Vapor is a serverless deployment platform based on AWS.

For those looking to take the next step, developers can host their Laravel applications through their own, self-hosted website. Because when you self-host your website, you have to set up several defined databases with a single PHP command (using the latest version) and SSH access to the server. Laravel offers both in an open source PHP framework, and as an added bonus, it's pretty easy to install.

What else can Laravel do?

Perhaps the better question is, “What can Laravel do Not? “There are thousands of packages that serve a variety of functions. Some of the most interesting official Laravel packages are:

Cashier and Spark

Laravel Cashier provides an interface for subscription billing services from Stripe and Paddle. Cashier also offers extended subscription functions, such as coupons and notice periods.

Cashier is the engine for Laravel Spark, a billing management panel that allows users to create and manage their subscriptions. Spark is also limited to Stripe and Paddle as payment providers; custom providers are not yet compatible with Spark. However, Spark allows the developer to choose their front end.

Valet

Laravel Valet is a development environment for macOS that focuses on speed and minimal resource consumption (approx. 7 MB RAM). Valet is not intended to be a complete replacement for Sail or Homestead. Instead, it is intended for users with specific needs and resource constraints.

You can find more packages on the Laravel website or at Packalyst.

Laravel a year 2021

The current version of Laravel is version 8, which was first released in September 2020. This version contains a number of new features and improvements. Some of the new features in version 8 include Laravel Jetstream, Job Batching (enables a batch of jobs to be executed followed by defined actions), Dynamic Blade Components (enables components to be rendered at runtime based on a runtime value) and the Use of Tailwind CSS by default in the Laravel Paginator. Improvements have also been made to rate limiting and maintenance mode.

Note that Laravel issues a new major release every September, with minor releases appearing as needed. The release of Laravel version 9 is currently planned for September 2021.

Summary

Developers who want to quickly and easily develop web applications should consider learning Laravel. Laravel offers an extensive and robust set of resources that simplify the development process by eliminating the need to program many common tasks from scratch.

Laravel also offers a secure virtual development environment and intuitive command line interfaces. And because Laravel is easy to learn and has a strong support community and ecosystem, it's a natural choice for many developers, whether they're a beginner or an expert with years of experience.


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