Developing with Laravel, a popular PHP framework, can be a highly efficient and enjoyable experience if you follow best practices. Laravel is a free and open-source programming language that aims to make web development easier.
It was first released in 2011, and it's now one of the most popular PHP frameworks in use today. In this guide, we'll look at some best practices for developing with Laravel, including tips on managing your codebase, testing your code, security concerns, essential do’s & don'ts.
Laravel is a versatile PHP framework that can be used for a wide range of web development projects. Laravel has been growing in popularity for years, with over 3 million downloads per month on Packagist alone.
It excels in various areas and is best used for:
Web Application Development: Laravel is an excellent choice for building web applications of varying complexity, from small projects to large-scale enterprise applications.
Custom Web Solutions: It is well-suited for creating custom web solutions tailored to specific business needs. Developers can build unique applications with Laravel's flexibility.
Content Management Systems (CMS): Laravel can be used to build content management systems like blogs, news websites, and custom CMS platforms.
eCommerce Platforms: Laravel can power eCommerce websites and online stores. Developers can integrate payment gateways, manage products, and create shopping cart systems.
API Development: Laravel is an excellent choice for building robust RESTful and GraphQL APIs. It provides tools like Laravel Passport and Lumen for API development.
Real-time Applications: Laravel can be used to develop real-time applications using technologies like WebSockets. Laravel Echo and broadcasting capabilities make real-time features more accessible.
Authentication and Authorisation: It simplifies user authentication and authorisation processes. Laravel's built-in tools and packages, like Laravel Jetstream, can be leveraged for user management.
Task Scheduling: Laravel's task scheduling system, powered by the Cron, allows for automated, time-based execution of tasks, making it suitable for jobs like sending emails, generating reports, and more.
Data Management: Laravel's Eloquent ORM (Object-Relational Mapping) simplifies database interaction. It's suitable for applications that require complex data management and relationships.
Microservices: Laravel can be used in microservices architecture to create individual, specialised services that communicate with each other.
Prototyping: It's an excellent choice for rapidly prototyping web applications. Laravel's built-in features and extensive package ecosystem enable developers to build and test ideas quickly.
Community Portals and Forums: Laravel can be used to create community portals, forums, and discussion boards. Packages like Laravel Breeze and Laravel Echo make it easier to build such platforms.
Enterprise Applications: For large-scale enterprise applications, Laravel's scalability and robustness make it a suitable choice. It can handle complex workflows and integrations.
Educational Platforms: Laravel can be used to build eLearning platforms, educational content management systems, and school management systems.
Startups: Laravel is a popular choice for startups looking to develop their minimum viable product (MVP). Its speed and ease of use can help startups get their products to market quickly.
Laravel's rich ecosystem, including its expressive syntax, robust packages, and active community, makes it a versatile framework that can adapt to various development needs. However, the suitability of Laravel for a specific project also depends on factors like project complexity, team expertise, and the desired features of the application.
Take advantage of features that Git has to offer while developing your Laravel application. Use Git to manage your source code, for version control, and also for your project's source code. Create a branch for each feature or bug fix, and merge it back into the master when you're done.
Keep your code clean and readable with good documentation. Use meaningful variable names, function names, class names and method names in your application code. For example:
$user instead of
Try not to use underscores in variable or function names. This can make it easier for other developers who may work on the project later on down the road since they will know exactly what each variable represents without having to look at any comments or documentation that were left behind by previous developers who wrote this code initially before them!
It is crucial to use the right development tools. PHPCS is the ideal tool for linting and style checking, and PHPUnit for testing, while PHPStan is a static analysis tool to catch bugs before they occur in production.
If you're using Laravel's Artisan CLI, then you already have CodeSniffer installed on your machine by default! That's great because it means no more manual installation steps are needed here! Use the custom ruleset later on when writing our codebase conventions.
Some of the other tools to consider include PHP Dependency Manager and Composer to increase coding efficiency and build better applications.
Use Composer to update your dependencies.
To take advantage of the built-in logging library, install it with Composer first. Logging is an integral part of the development process. It helps you track the flow of your application and keep a record of what happened. It would help if you used logging to determine what is essential and what isn't so that you can focus on fixing bugs instead of trying to figure out why something went wrong. The most common way to log in to Laravel is with Monolog or a similar library (such as Lograge). There are two ways you can use this library: through the facade or directly through the package itself by calling methods like error() or info().
Use the right password hashing algorithm, encryption algorithm, and session encryption algorithm and ensure security!
Laravel has an extensive feature set, but it is vital that you use it wisely. Avoid using a feature just because it exists; instead, optimise your application as per your custom requirement.
It is essential to understand that every feature has its purpose. If a feature is present in Laravel but not needed for your project, then avoid using it. For example, If you are building a small application with only one or two models and no need for authentication or session management (think of an API), then you don't need the entire MVC structure. You could use plain PHP instead of controllers and views - which would reduce the size of your codebase significantly without sacrificing functionality or speed!
For a large-scale enterprise application that requires user registration capabilities along with social media integration (like Facebook), then using Laravel will save time and money over other frameworks because they already have these features built-in, so all you have to do is configure them properly!
Laravel is a framework that is constantly being improved and updated to make it better and more efficient. Always use the latest version of Laravel and take advantage of the new features it has to offer.
Use the right test case for each scenario. Test cases should be as simple as possible so that they're easy to write, read and maintain. Make sure that each test case has a clear purpose: why it exists, what input data it expects, and what output data you expect.
When designing a database, it's important to keep your tables separate. Two entities that are entirely different from each other and should not be mixed.
Always try to keep DRY where possible. DRY is a principle of software development that states, "Every piece of knowledge must have a single, unambiguous, authoritative representation within a system." It can be summarised as: "Don't Repeat Yourself."
Laravel follows the Model-View-Controller (MVC) architectural pattern. Stick to this pattern to keep your code organised, separate concerns, and maintain a clear structure. Models represent the data, Views handle the presentation, and Controllers manage the application logic.
Laravel's command-line tool, Artisan, offers a wide range of commands for automating repetitive tasks. Use Artisan to create models, controllers, migrations, and more. It can also generate boilerplate code for you.
If your application requires authentication, consider using Laravel Passport, a powerful package for API authentication. It simplifies the process of creating secure APIs and handling authentication tokens.
Laravel's Eloquent ORM makes it easy to work with databases. Use Eloquent to define and interact with database tables and relationships. Take advantage of features like eager loading and query scopes to optimise database queries.
Always validate user input. Use Laravel's validation system or create custom “Form Request” classes to handle validation rules. This helps ensure data integrity and security.
Middleware in Laravel allows you to filter HTTP requests entering your application. Utilise middleware to perform tasks like authentication, authorisation, and request manipulation. You can also create custom middleware for specific needs.
Laravel's powerful IoC (Inversion of Control) container allows you to inject dependencies into classes instead of hardcoding them. This promotes modularity testability and makes code more maintainable.
Laravel's Blade templating engine is both powerful and easy to use. Utilise Blade templates for consistent and maintainable views. Take advantage of features like layouts, partials, and directives.
Give your routes meaningful names using the name method, group, related routes using middleware and route prefixes for better organisation and readability.
Laravel uses Composer for package management. Use it to include third-party packages or create your packages for reuse across projects.
Use a version control system like Git to track changes in your codebase. Collaborate with team members and maintain a history of your project's development.
Laravel provides excellent support for testing. Write unit tests, feature tests, and Dusk browser tests to ensure the reliability and functionality of your application.
Monitor and optimise your database queries using Laravel's built-in tools like the query log. Use caching where appropriate to reduce database load.
Utilise Laravel's environment-specific configuration files (.env) to manage environment variables and settings. Keep sensitive information like API keys and database credentials secure.
Stay updated with security best practices. Laravel provides built-in features like CSRF protection and XSS protection, but it's essential to stay vigilant about security vulnerabilities and updates.
Document your code and APIs thoroughly. Laravel provides tools like Laravel Dusk for testing and Laravel API documentation generators to automate API documentation.
Keep your Laravel installation and dependencies up to date. Laravel releases updates and security patches regularly.
Configure robust error handling and logging. Laravel provides extensive logging capabilities to help you diagnose and fix issues.
Conduct code reviews with your team to maintain code quality, adhere to coding standards, and catch potential issues early.
Laravel is one of the most popular PHP frameworks. It's also used by thousands of developers worldwide because it makes things like routing or database migrations simple enough that even beginners can understand them quickly!
There are many reasons why developers choose Laravel as their web application framework: one reason being its modularity; another being how easy it makes creating RESTful APIs; finally, because they can use some fantastic tools like Blade templating engine, which allows them to write HTML code directly inside PHP files instead having separate templates file saved somewhere else on server. Here are some of the popular trends:
Laravel 10 and Beyond: Laravel 10 introduced several new features and improvements. Stay updated with the latest Laravel version to leverage the newest enhancements and security updates.
Jetstream and Livewire: Laravel Jetstream, a starter kit for Laravel applications, gained popularity. It includes support for Livewire, a full-stack framework for dynamic web interfaces. These technologies simplify the development of interactive web applications.
Tailwind CSS: Laravel Jetstream also includes Tailwind CSS for styling. Tailwind CSS has become a popular utility-first CSS framework and is widely used in Laravel projects for responsive and customisable designs.
Inertia.js: Inertia.js is a relatively new trend that simplifies building modern single-page applications (SPAs) with Laravel. It allows developers to use server-side controllers and routing while still creating dynamic, SPA-like interfaces.
API-First Development: With the rise of mobile and web applications, API-first development is becoming increasingly important. Laravel's support for API development, including Laravel Passport for authentication, remains a trending practice.
Microservices Architecture: For large-scale applications, microservices architecture with Laravel is gaining traction. It involves breaking down the application into smaller, specialised services that communicate with each other.
Laravel Nova: Laravel Nova is an administration panel for managing your Laravel application. It simplifies backend administration tasks and provides a customisable interface.
Real-Time Features: Real-time features and notifications using technologies like WebSockets (with Laravel Echo or other libraries) are becoming more common for instant updates and interactivity.
Serverless Laravel: Serverless computing with Laravel is a growing trend. Services like AWS Lambda and Laravel Vapor enable developers to deploy Laravel applications without managing server infrastructure.
Laravel Packages and Ecosystem: Laravel's package ecosystem continues to expand. Developers often leverage packages for common tasks, speeding up development and reducing code duplication.
GraphQL Integration: While RESTful APIs remain popular, GraphQL is gaining attention for its flexibility in querying data. Laravel offers support for GraphQL through packages like Lighthouse.
Testing and TDD: The Laravel community places a strong emphasis on testing and test-driven development (TDD). PHPUnit and Laravel Dusk are commonly used tools for testing applications.
AI and Machine Learning: Integrating AI and machine learning capabilities into Laravel applications is a growing trend, especially for applications requiring predictive analytics or natural language processing.
Laravel is a popular software and the best choice for developing a wide range of solutions. However, there are a few things to keep in mind or avoid when considering Laravel development:
Avoid jumping straight into Laravel for everything.
In the case of a simple project that does not require the extensive feature set that Laravel possesses, you are better off using another technology.
Avoid attempting to develop with Laravel yourself, especially if you are new to programming. This is because it has a steep learning curve. It is not easy to learn Laravel, and you will need to invest some time in order to get used to it.
Laravel has excellent documentation; hence, always use it. Read and refer to the documentation regularly to understand best practices, features, and updates.
Avoid using raw SQL queries unless necessary, as they can pose security risks and make your code less maintainable. Laravel provides a powerful query builder and Eloquent ORM.
Follow the Laravel code architecture. The Controllers are meant for handling HTTP requests and responses; avoid using them for complex business logic. Keep your controllers lean and move business logic to dedicated service classes or models.
Never neglect validation for user input and form data because doing so can lead to security vulnerabilities and data integrity issues.
Error handling is crucial since otherwise, it can result in unexpected behaviour and security risks. Utilise Laravel's built-in exception handling and logging.
Avoid using too many global functions; instead, rely on dependency injection and class methods for better maintainability and testability.
Don't Overuse Facades since overusing them can lead to tight coupling and make your code harder to test.
Skipping testing or writing insufficient test cases is a common mistake; hence, avoid doing this.
Never hardcode sensitive information like database credentials or API keys directly into your code. Use environment variables or configuration files for security.
Avoid inefficient database queries, excessive loops, and unnecessary data retrieval that may slow down your application.
Always consider common security issues and follow good security practices. Take advantage of Laravel's built-in security features to do this.
Blade templates are meant for presentation logic; hence, avoid mixing business logic in your views.
Avoid building monolithic applications that may become difficult to scale. Embrace modular, decoupled architecture.
This article shows the best practices for Laravel development, trends and what to avoid. If you have any questions about anything we covered, please let us know. By following these best practices, you can create clean, maintainable, and secure Laravel applications that are easier to develop, test, and scale.