Laravel is a popular PHP framework that makes web development easier and faster. But how do you deploy it? Deploying a Laravel application can be done in several ways, depending on the complexity and scale of your project. However, it is important to always follow best practices and test your code before deploying it.
There are several other steps one should take prior to attempting to deploy it. You need to first prepare your application and configure the environment variables. Some of the steps include checking for dependencies, setting permissions & databases, and configuring the web server.
Popular Methods to Deploy Your Laravel Application
The way it works is that a Laravel application needs to be deployed to a server. This can be a virtual private server, shared hosting server, live server, staging server, localhost, etc. There are many methods one can implement to deploy their application. Some of the popular methods are listed here:
Laravel Forge: This is an official server management and application deployment service from Laravel.
Envoyer: This is an official Laravel product, especially for deploying your code, and it ensures zero downtime.
Deployer: This is an open-source PHP deployment tool that allows you to deploy with zero downtime.
Ploi: It is a server management and application deployment service. This tool allows one to deploy a website at the click of a button and also assures zero downtime.
MezoHub: This deployment and server management tool allows you to deploy your application after creating a project at the press of a button.
Launchdeck: This tool allows you to deploy code from your Git account to your server in quick time.
Capistrano: This remote server automation tool allows you to automate the deployment process. It allows you to automate deployment tasks with custom deployment scripts.
Deployment via Control Panels: cPanel/Plesk allows you to deploy a Laravel application. However, the interface option might not be available on every hosting provider.
Docker: This allows you to deploy your Laravel application. It eliminates the need to manually install and configure Laravel dependencies like PHP and web servers (like Apache). The reason is that these dependencies already exist on the Docker Hub.
Prepare Before You Deploy
It is vital you do not skip the critical step of preparing your application before deploying it. Doing so will ensure your application is running efficiently before its deployment. Here are a few items that should be present on your checklist:
For those running Laravel 10.x, ensure the web server has a PHP version greater than 8.1
Your server will require extensions like Ctype, cURL, DOM, Fileinfo, Filter, Hash, Mbstring, OpenSSL, PCRE, PDO, Session, Tokenizer, and XML PHP extensions.
Autoloader optimization simplifies the process for the Composer in finding the appropriate file to load.
By running the command "php artisan config:cache" prior to deploying, you can speed up the process of loading the configuration values. The way it works, Laravel will combine all the configuration files into a single, cached file, thus reducing the trips the frameworks must make to the file system.
Caching the events, routes and views prior to deploying can help improve the performance of your application. This is highly beneficial if you are using event discovery or building a large application that utilizes many routes.
Always ensure that the Debug mode variable in the environment variable file is set to 'false'.
Set up SSL certificates for secure connections (if not already done).
Implement security best practices, like CSRF protection and other Laravel-specific security features.
Conduct thorough testing of your deployed application to ensure functionality and performance.
How To Deploy Laravel Application
There are many ways one can deploy a Laravel application. We explain how to achieve this using two popular methods: Deploying from Git to a Shared hosting server and using Docker for Laravel for this purpose.
Deploying from Git to a Shared hosting server
Deploy from Git to shared hosting server:
Initial preparation: Ensure your hosting server has Git support. It is also important you verify you have SSH access to the server for Git commands.
Initialize a Git repository for your Laravel project locally. Add the shared hosting server's Git repository as a remote in your local repository.
Transfer your code from the local repository to the shared hosting server repository via SSH using Git via SSH.
Set up a deployment directory in your hosting account to deploy the application.
Access the server via SSH and navigate to the deployment directory. Transfer the code from the Git repository in your hosting account into the deployment directory.
Install Composer and all the dependencies. Do not install the development packages.
Ensure proper permissions for the storage and bootstrap directories. (chmod -R 775 storage bootstrap/cache).
Configure the environment variables for the production environment.
Configure the webserver to point to the public directory of your Laravel app. and ensure the .htaccess file in the public folder is properly configured.
Run ‘php artisan config, cache and route, for optimization.
Test the application thoroughly on the server to ensure functionality.
Docker for Laravel
Adjust the Laravel environment parameters. This can be done from the .env file located in the main app directory.
Create a Dockerfile in your Laravel project root.
Define the necessary dependencies (PHP, Composer, etc.) in the Dockerfile.
Create a build script to install dependencies and configure the application within the Docker container.
Create a docker-compose.yml file for multi-container setups (e.g., web server, database).
Build Docker image by using docker build to build the Docker image using the Dockerfile.
Tag the image appropriately for identification.
Use docker to run the Docker container based on the built image.
Map the container's ports to the host machine if necessary.
Pass environment variables to the container for configuration, like the database credentials.
Mount volumes for persistent storage.
Connect your Dockerized Laravel app to an external database or use Dockerized databases like MySQL or PostgreSQL.
Handle database migrations and seeding within the Docker container.
Configure Docker networks for communication between containers if using multiple services.
Implement security practices for Docker containers.
Monitor logs to debug any issues during deployment.
Perform thorough testing to ensure the application functions correctly within the Docker container.
Implement a CI/CD pipeline to automate Docker image builds and deployments.
Document the Docker deployment process for future reference and collaboration.
Regularly update Docker images and containers to keep dependencies and security patches up-to-date.
Laravel Forge has a user-friendly interface with provisions for automation on popular cloud providers. It is easy to set up SSL and has basic server monitoring features. Envoyer makes it easy to roll back to previous versions, integrates with Git services, and allows automated deployment. It also has basic monitoring features and allows teams to collaborate on deployment tasks. Capistrano has a highly customized script using Ruby, which offers a rollback feature but has a steep learning curve. Deployer is PHP-based and highly simple to set up. It also supports automation.
There are many methods and tools in which one can use to deploy a Laravel application. Each tool has its strengths based on deployment needs, team expertise, and the level of control required. Consider factors like ease of use, automation capabilities, rollback options, and scalability when choosing a deployment tool for your Laravel application.
At the end of the day, you need to select a tool that is most suitable for your application. Prepare your application and set the necessary environment variables. Select the right tool or method to deploy your Laravel application.