What is Laravel? Getting started with Laravel

What is Laravel? Getting started with Laravel

Laravel has significantly impacted the PHP development community by offering an elegant and more enjoyable way to tackle web development projects. It stands out in today’s tech landscape for its ability to simplify common tasks involved in web projects, such as authentication, routing, sessions, and caching.

Brief history of Laravel

Laravel was created by Taylor Otwell and first released in June 2011. Since then, it has undergone numerous updates, each introducing new features and improvements to enhance performance and make development even more intuitive. Laravel has grown from a simple PHP framework to an extensive ecosystem, supporting robust application development.

What is Laravel?

Laravel is a free, open-source PHP web framework intended for the development of web applications following the model-view-controller (MVC) architectural pattern. It is designed to make tasks like authentication, routing, sessions, and caching much simpler and more intuitive, thereby speeding up the development process without sacrificing application functionality.

Laravel’s ecosystem and community

Laravel boasts a vibrant ecosystem and a passionate community that contributes to its growth and accessibility. The ecosystem includes tools like Laravel Forge, Envoyer, and Nova, which provide developers with additional functionalities to streamline deployment, administration, and application development. The community, accessible through forums and Slack channels, offers invaluable resources, support, and collaboration opportunities.

Advantages of using Laravel over other PHP frameworks

Laravel offers several advantages over other PHP frameworks, such as:

  • An elegant syntax that prioritizes simplicity and readability.
  • Built-in support for testing and debugging tools.
  • Extensive libraries and packages through Composer.
  • A robust system for routing, middleware, and templating.
  • Comprehensive documentation and a supportive community.

Core Concepts of Laravel

Laravel is built on several fundamental principles that ensure its applications are both robust and flexible.

MVC Architecture

Laravel follows the Model-View-Controller (MVC) architecture, separating the logic of the application from the user interface. This separation allows for cleaner code and simpler maintenance. Models handle data and business logic, views present data to the user, and controllers handle user requests and return responses.


Laravel provides a simple yet powerful routing mechanism that allows developers to route requests to the appropriate controller with minimal effort. It supports basic and advanced routing techniques, including route parameters, named routes, and group routing, making application functionality more accessible and intuitive.


Middleware in Laravel acts as a filtering mechanism, running before or after a request is processed. This feature is used for tasks like authentication and logging, providing a flexible way to inspect and modify requests and responses.

Eloquent ORM

Eloquent ORM, Laravel’s built-in ORM, offers an active record implementation for working with databases. It allows developers to interact with their database objects and relationships using expressive, intuitive syntax.

Blade Templating

Blade is Laravel’s templating engine, allowing developers to create dynamic content with simple and clean syntax. It supports data binding, inheritance, and sections, among other features, making it powerful and easy to use.

Service Providers

Service providers in Laravel are the central place to configure application services. They are responsible for bootstrapping all of the framework’s various components, such as the database, queue, validation, and routing services.

Artisan Console

The Artisan console is a command-line interface included with Laravel, providing numerous helpful commands for application development. It supports tasks like database migrations, testing, and job queues directly from the command line.

Setting Up the Development Environment

Getting started with Laravel requires a few steps to prepare your development environment.

Requirements for installing Laravel

Laravel has a few system requirements:

  • PHP >= 7.3
  • BCMath PHP Extension
  • Ctype PHP Extension
  • Fileinfo PHP extension
  • JSON PHP Extension
  • Mbstring PHP Extension
  • OpenSSL PHP Extension
  • PDO PHP Extension
  • Tokenizer PHP Extension
  • XML PHP Extension

Installing Laravel via Composer

Laravel can be installed via Composer, PHP’s dependency manager. You can create a new Laravel project by running the following command:

composer create-project --prefer-dist laravel/laravel blog

Setting up a local development server

Once Laravel is installed, you can start a local development server using the Artisan command:

php artisan serve

This command will start a development server at http://localhost:8000.

Configuring .env file for environment variables

Laravel utilizes a .env file for environment configuration. This file is where you can set application-specific environment variables, such as database connection details and application key. Ensure you configure your .env file to match your local environment before starting development.

Project Structure and Understanding Key Directories

Laravel applications follow a specific structure that organizes the application’s various components neatly. Key directories include:

  • app/ contains the core code of your application, including models and controllers.
  • routes/ houses all your application routes. The web.php file within this directory is typically used for routes that return views.
  • resources/views is where you’ll place your Blade templates.
  • database/migrations contains database migrations which allow you to define your database structure programmatically.
  • config/ stores configuration files for your application.

Understanding this structure is crucial as it dictates where to place your application’s files and how Laravel’s features interact with these files.

Defining Routes and Creating Controllers

Routes in Laravel are defined in files located in the routes/ directory. To create a new route, add it to the web.php file. Routes direct traffic to controllers which handle the business logic of your application. Controllers can be created using the Artisan CLI with a command like php artisan make:controller YourControllerName.

Creating Views Using Blade Templating Engine

Blade is Laravel’s powerful templating engine, allowing you to create dynamic HTML templates with minimal fuss. Views are stored in resources/views and can be returned by a controller method using the view() helper function. Blade templates can extend layouts and utilize components for reusable pieces of HTML.

Connecting to a Database and Creating Migrations

Laravel simplifies database connections and operations. Edit the .env file to configure your database settings. Use migrations to define your database structure without writing SQL directly. You can create a migration with the Artisan CLI using php artisan make:migration create_your_table_name_table.

Using Eloquent ORM for Database Operations

Eloquent ORM provides an elegant and simple ActiveRecord implementation for working with your database. Each database table has a corresponding “Model” which allows you to query and interact with that table. Models reside in the app/ directory.

Implementing Basic CRUD Operations

CRUD operations can be implemented in Laravel by defining routes for each operation, creating controllers to handle business logic, and using Eloquent models to interact with the database. Views created with Blade can be used to display forms and data.

Advanced Features in Laravel

Laravel offers advanced features that cater to more sophisticated application development needs.

Authentication and Authorization

Laravel’s built-in authentication system makes it trivial to implement authentication. Additionally, policies and gates provide a flexible way to add authorization logic based on roles and permissions.

Package Development and Management

Laravel’s package development feature allows you to modularize your application, making it easy to reuse and share parts of your application. Composer manages these packages, ensuring that dependencies are handled gracefully.

Task Scheduling and Queue Management

Laravel’s scheduler and queue system allow for the deferral of task execution and processing jobs in the background, improving application performance and user experience.

Broadcasting and Real-time Events

Laravel’s event broadcasting allows your application to leverage WebSockets for real-time data updates and interactive features.

API Development with Laravel

Laravel is equipped with tools to facilitate API development, such as API routes, resource controllers, and JSON responses, making it ideal for building RESTful APIs.

Testing in Laravel: Unit and Feature Tests

Laravel is built with testing in mind. PHPUnit is set up out of the box, and Laravel provides helpers for making HTTP requests and interacting with your application in tests.


Laravel is a powerful and versatile framework that makes it easier than ever to build modern web applications. By understanding its core features, following best practices, and engaging with the community, you can enhance your Laravel development skills and create exceptional web applications.

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