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A Complete Guide to Laravel

Web design evolves at the speed of thought. Despite the rapid cycling of tastes and trends, however, some web design trends survive the test of time. They’re practically built-in to the way we design for and use the internet. 

PHP is one of those trends. 78.9% of websites use PHP in some way, shape, or form. It powers some of the most popular websites on the web, from Facebook to Wikipedia. Its popularity remains remarkably consistent considering how quickly other tech trends come and go. 

You’ll often hear Laravel mentioned in the same breath as PHP development. But what is Laravel? 

What Is Laravel?

Laravel is the most popular framework for working with PHP by a long shot. It greatly surpasses every other PHP framework by an order of magnitude. Check out this Google Trends graph for yourself, to get a sense of Laravel’s popularity for PHP development. 

If you’re wondering “What is Laravel?”, the short answer is that it’s an open-source PHP framework designed specifically for creating web apps. It does so with a robust system of built-in features and an elaborate host of libraries. This means you won’t have to write a number of popular features from scratch.

Laravel features a built-in authentication system. This helps ensure your web apps designed with Laravel remain secure. This is especially important given the rise of data breaches and cyber crime in recent years. 

Another of Laravel’s standout features is object-related mapping. Database tables are saved as classes rather than binary JSON tables. This makes it easier to specify different classes of access and manipulation of data. 

Automated testing is another of Laravel’s strengths. This prevents you from having to load a virtual server every time you want to test a line of code. It greatly speeds up rapid prototyping and the time it takes to get a product to the shelves, so to speak. 

Laravel is entirely virtual, meaning you can use it absolutely anywhere. Laravel development requires Composer, however, so you’ll need to make sure that language is installed on any system where you’ll be using Laravel. 

Laravel is also beloved by developers for its thorough documentation. Every command and function features extensive examples and definitions. It’s as close to a plug-and-play PHP framework as you can get. 

There’s also a healthy, vibrant community of Laravel developers. There are countless tutorials, screencasts, and blogs covering Laravel development for nearly any application you could think of. 

Laravel was first released in 2011. The most recent build, Laravel 7, was released in March 2020.

When To Use Laravel

Laravel is particularly popular due to its easy learning curve. This ease of use makes Laravel the 7th most widely used programming language. Despite its ease of use, Laravel is still able to create complex solutions for a wide array of problems and situations. 

Laravel is essentially PHP. As we stated above, nearly 80% of the internet runs on PHP. This is despite the fact that it was created in 1994. 

PHP, we must remember, stands for ‘personal home page.’ It’s basically the language written for developing personalized websites. This means that anything you could need to run on a website or a web application can easily be implemented using PHP.

Despite its longevity, PHP isn’t a particularly pretty-looking development language. It’s bulky and unwieldy. That’s where Laravel comes in, which makes programming with PHP much more pleasant and efficient. 

The short answer to ‘When To Use Laravel’ is, whenever you need to modify your homepage. This could include things like running a blog or hosting Software-as-a-Solution app on your website. Laravel allows you to fully customize every single aspect of your web development. 

PHP can also run absolutely anywhere. This means you could even run an app on a free or very cheap website, if you know how to work with PHP. 

What Is Laravel Good For?

Here are some situations where Laravel comes particularly in handy. 

Fast Performance

Speed has never been more important than it is in today’s digital economy. 32.3% of web users will leave a website that takes 7 seconds or longer to load. That number is even higher for mobile users, who make up an increasingly large percentage of today’s internet traffic. 

PHP is already optimized for speed. PHP already offered a variety of methods for adjusting the allowable memory usage and the shortening the length of garbage collecting processes. 

PHP 8 takes this tendency even further with the introduction of some new libraries. The Just-In-Time compilation in particular greatly improves PHP’s performance. 

Laravel takes this even further still. Laravel features an additional couple of functions to optimize performance even further. These include Redis and Memached, both of which augment cache server support.

Routing 

Routing is particularly customizable in Laravel. This gives it an advantage over PHP. Routing can be handled in a number of ways using the Laravel framework. 

The first methods involves using controllers. Laravel controllers can be used to offer different functions to different sections of a website. 

Code routing is another way to customize features for different sections of your website or web apps. This prevents you from having to host a bunch of controllers for each section of your website or web applications. You also could host controllers at different web extensions and then control what data gets routed to them. 

SQL Migration

Laravel features a number of different methods of interacting with databases. Laravel’s backend supports raw SQL, for one thing. It also uses the fluent query builder and Elegant ORM. 

Laravel works with four different database formats. These include:

  • MySQL 5.6+
  • PostgreSQL 9.4+
  • SQLite 3.8.8+
  • SQL Server 2017+ 

If you don’t want to work with raw SQL directly, there’s a Python script that lets you neatly port SQL data to Laravel’s database. Laravel is well-suited for dealing with raw SQL, which has been found to perform especially effectively when dealing with large quantities of data. 

Laravel also features native commands for handling data migrations. This creates a separate folder where your migrated data will live. This is particularly useful for creating versions of your database. 

It’s also exceptionally easy to create databases using Laravel. You simply have to use a simple ‘touch’ command, and a new database will be created. This means you can migrate your SQL database, create a new table, and move your migrated data to its new home, all with a few simple lines of code. 

Security

Laravel is particularly robust when it comes to security. It all begins with authentication, which is implemented particularly well in Laravel. 

Authentication comes in two layers in the Laravel framework. These are “guards” and “providers”. 

Guards assign which users are allowed what level of access. These are stored for the duration of the session. 

Providers specify how users are retrieved from the database. It supports Eloquent and database query out of the box. It can easily be modified to amend the way it retrieves user information, as well. 

Laravel supports a number of different authorization functions out of the box, as well. These come in two main categories, as well. These are gates and policies. 

Gates and policies function similarly to controllers and routing. Gates generally involve a particular module or resource. Gates are usually Closures that determine if a user is eligible to perform a certain task or not.

Policies, on the other hand, are generally organized around a particular model or resource. This could be a blog, for instance. Policies would determine which users are able to modify the blog and which one’s aren’t. 

Policies can also be used to determine different levels of access. One user might be able to write blog posts, for instance, using a simple ‘post’ command. An admin, on the other hand, might be able to modify blog posts, using a ‘PostPolicy’ command. 

These are just a few methods that Laravel uses for security. It also features native commands for email authorizations, so you don’t have to write that code every time you create a web app that needs to be verified. 

Ready To Implement Laravel For Your Website Or Web App?

At Code 23, we’ve been a Laravel development agency for 15 years. We’ve implemented this powerful web development framework for nearly every conceivable application.

Now that you’ve answered the question “What is Laravel?”, you’ll have a better idea of what this powerful framework is capable of. For more information about Laravel website and app development contact us today.

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