Getting Started With Laravel


Written By - Muhammad Azeem
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Introduction to Laravel (Overview)

Laravel is an open-source PHP framework developed by Taylor Otwell and intended for the development of web applications following the model–view–controller (MVC) architectural pattern. Laravel is one of the most popular PHP frameworks, alongside Symfony and CodeIgniter.

It is based on Symfony and includes a set of tools and libraries. Laravel is a full-stack framework that includes a suite of tools and components for building modern web applications. It is designed to provide an easy-to-use and powerful development environment for rapid application development.

Laravel includes a robust set of features, such as routing, authentication, sessions, and caching, that can be used to quickly and easily build applications. It also provides an intuitive and expressive syntax that makes writing code simpler and more enjoyable.

 

Benefits of Using Laravel

  1. Easy to Use: Laravel is a very user-friendly framework. It has an intuitive syntax and code structure, making it easy to learn and use. Additionally, it has many useful libraries, packages, and tools that simplify common tasks.
  2. Highly Secure: Laravel has many built-in security features like authentication, encryption, password reset, and more. This makes it one of the most secure web frameworks available.
  3. Database Migration: Database migration is the process of transferring data from one database to another. Laravel makes this process easier with its migration system. It allows developers to quickly and easily make changes to the database structure.
  4. Unit Testing: Unit testing is an important part of any software development process. Laravel provides an easy-to-use unit testing framework that makes it easy to test code before it is deployed.
  5. Flexibility: Laravel is a flexible framework that can be used to develop both small and large applications. It also supports a variety of databases such as MySQL, PostgreSQL, and SQL Server.
  6. Automation: Laravel provides many automated tools that make web development faster and easier. These include tasks such as routing, caching, and authentication.
  7. Blade Templating: Blade is the templating engine used by Laravel. It provides an easy-to-use syntax that makes it easy to create beautiful and dynamic web pages.
  8. Comprehensive Documentation: Laravel has comprehensive documentation that makes it easy to learn and use. Additionally, the community is very active and helpful, so you can always find help if needed.

 

What is Included in Laravel?

Laravel is an open-source PHP web application framework, created to make the development process of web applications easier and more efficient. It includes many features such as a modular packaging system, an application architecture, a templating system, a robust query builder, and a routing system.

Additionally, Laravel provides support for a variety of databases, including MySQL, PostgreSQL, and SQLite. It also provides a command-line interface for interacting with the framework and performing various tasks.

 

Steps involved to install Laravel

  1. Install Composer: To install Laravel you must first install composer. You can do this by visiting the official website at https://getcomposer.org/download/ and downloading the latest version.
  2. Install Laravel: After you have installed composer, you can now install Laravel. You can do this by running the following command in your command line:composer global require Laravel/installer
  3. Create a New Project: Now that you have installed Laravel and composer, you can create a new project by running the following command:Laravel new <name_of_project>
  4. Serve Your Project: To serve your project and make it available on the web, you can run the following command:php artisan serve 
  5. Start Using Laravel: Congratulations! You have successfully installed and set up Laravel. Now you can start using it to build amazing applications.

 

Configuring the Database

  • Open the main Laravel configuration file located at config/database.php
  • Update the 'default' connection to use the database type you wish to use.
  • Update the 'connections' array with the specific configuration details for your chosen database, such as hostname, username, password, database name, etc.
  • If you are using a non-default database type, you will need to install the corresponding PHP extension for your database type.
  • Finally, run the 'php artisan migrate' command to create the database tables.

 

Creating Routes

Routes in Laravel are used to define the URL structure and map it to a specific controller action. Routes are defined in the routes/web.php file.

To create a new route in Laravel, use the Route::get method to define a URL and a closure callback as the action for the route.

Example: Route::get('/url', function () { 
  return 'This is a route';  
}); 

 

Using Blade Templates

The blade is the default templating engine used in Laravel. It is a powerful and simple tool that makes working with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript much easier. Blade templates allow us to easily create dynamic content in our applications.

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The blade is easy to learn and use and provides some powerful features that can help us quickly build a modern, feature-rich web application. Blade files use the blade.php file extension and are typically stored in the resources/views directory. Each blade file is made up of plain HTML, but also includes Blade syntax, which tells the Laravel framework how to handle the data. The blade allows us to easily add PHP code within our templates.

We can use Laravel's built-in helpers, such as @foreach, @if, and @include to make our templates more dynamic. Blade also allows us to define custom directives, which can be used to create reusable HTML snippets.

These directives can be used to include a navigation menu, or a reusable form field, in multiple places within our application. Finally, Blade provides us with a convenient way to access data from our models and controllers. We can use the @foreach and @if directives to loop through a collection of data and display it on our view. Using Blade templates in Laravel makes it easy to create dynamic, feature-rich web applications quickly and efficiently.

 

Creating Layouts and Sections

Layouts and sections in Laravel can be created using the Blade template engine. The blade is a powerful templating engine provided by Laravel. It allows us to break up large chunks of HTML into smaller sections that can be included in other views.

To create a layout in Laravel, we can use the blade directive @extends. This directive tells Laravel which layout to use for the page. A layout is a file containing the overall structure of the page. It typically includes the head, header, footer, and any other sections that will be common across all pages.

To create sections in Laravel, we can use the @section and @endsection directives. These directives tell Laravel which sections to include in the layout. A section contains The bladeHTML markup that is specific to the page. It is included in the layout once the layout is extended.

To include the sections in the layout, we can use the @yield directive. This directive tells Laravel to include the specified section in the layout.

Creating layouts and sections in Laravel is a great way to keep our code organized and make it easier to update. With the help of the Blade template engine, creating layouts and sections in Laravel is an easy and straightforward process.

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Passing Data to Views

Passing data from the controller to views in Laravel is done through an array of data. In the controller, the array is passed to the view() method. Inside the array, each key represents the variable name within the view, while each value represents the value of the corresponding variable. For example,

// Controller

public function showView() {  
  $data = array( 'name' => 'John', 'age' => 25 );  
  return view('view', $data);  
} 

// View

<h1>My name is {{ $name }} and I am {{ $age }} years old</h1>

 

Creating Controllers

Creating controllers in Laravel is an easy process. A controller is a PHP class that contains a set of related actions. Each action typically contains a single request/response cycle.

 

Step 1: Create the Controller

First, create the controller using the artisan command line utility. To do this, navigate to your project directory and run the following command:

php artisan make:controller [ControllerName]

 

Step 2: Define the Actions

Once the controller has been created, you can define your actions (methods) within the controller. Each action should contain a single request/response cycle.

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Step 3: Register the Routes

Once the actions have been defined, you can register the routes in the routes/web.php file. This is done by defining a route for each action.

 

Step 4: Test the Controller

Once the routes have been defined, you can test the controller by making requests to the routes. This can be done using your browser, a REST client, or any other tool you prefer.

 

Writing Actions

Once you have defined the routes, you can now create the actions in the controller. Each action should have a unique name and should contain the logic for the application. For example, if you are creating an action to save data to a database, you will need to call the Eloquent ORM to save the data.

 

Accessing URL Parameters

Accessing URL parameters in Laravel is done using the Request object. The Request object has various methods to access various parts of the URL. For example, to access query parameters, you can use the query() method of the Request object. To access route parameters, you can use the route() method of the Request object.

You can access the value of a URL parameter using the $request->input() method. For example, to access the value of a parameter called ‘id’, you can use the following code:

$id = $request->input('id');

The Request object also has other useful methods such as isMethod(), path(), url(), etc. to access various parts of the URL.

 

Defining Models

In Laravel, a model is a PHP class that represents a data table in the database. Models are used to interact with the data in the database and perform various operations such as retrieving, inserting, and deleting data from the database. Models are typically stored in the app/Models directory.

In order to define a model, you must use the Eloquent ORM (Object Relational Mapping) which is an active record implementation. This means that each model is associated with a specific database table and each model object is associated with a specific row in the table.

In order to define a model, you must create a class that extends the Eloquent model class. You then need to specify the table that the model is associated with, along with any other configuration that is necessary such as relationships between models.

Once the model has been defined, you can use it to interact with the data in the database. This includes performing CRUD operations (Create, Read, Update and Delete) on the data.

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Creating Database Migrations

  • To create database migrations in laravel, you can use the Artisan command line tool.php artisan make:migration create_table_name
  • Edit the new migration file to define the database table schema.
  • Run the migration with the migrate command.  “php artisan migrate
  • Rollback and re-run migrations as needed.  “php artisan migrate:rollback

 

Using Eloquent ORM

Eloquent ORM is an advanced implementation of the traditional Active Record pattern for working with data in Laravel. It enables developers to interact with the database using an expressive and elegant syntax.

Using Eloquent ORM, developers can write their database queries using an expressive and simple syntax. It provides a fluent interface for creating and running database queries, allowing developers to write complex database queries in an easy and efficient way.

When using Eloquent ORM, developers can easily create, read, update and delete records in the database. Additionally, Eloquent ORM also provides support for relationships, eager loading, soft deleting, and caching.

To use Eloquent ORM in a Laravel project, all models must extend the Eloquent model class. After that, the developer can define the database connection, table name, and other configurations in the model class.

Using Eloquent ORM, developers can perform various database operations such as creating and deleting records, fetching data from the database, and saving data to the database. Additionally, Eloquent ORM also provides support for relationships, eager loading, soft deleting, and caching.

 

Working with the Debug bar

Debugbar is a Laravel package that provides an interactively, debug toolbar to the developer. It allows you to quickly and easily view all the data available to your application, such as requests, routes, views, database queries, events, and more.

To install the debugbar, first add the package to your composer.json file:composer require barryvdh/laravel-debugbar

Then, register the service provider. In your ‘config/app.php’ file, add the following to the ‘providers’ array:Barryvdh\Debugbar\ServiceProvider::class,

Next, you will need to publish the configuration and assets. You can do this by running the following Artisan command:

php artisan vendor:publish --provider="Barryvdh\Debugbar\ServiceProvider"

Finally, you will need to add the Debugbar middleware to your application. In the ‘app/Http/Kernel.php’ file, add the middleware to the ‘web’ group:

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\Barryvdh\Debugbar\Middleware\Debugbar::class,

Now, when you load your application, you should see the Debugbar at the bottom of the page. You can then interact with it to view all the data associated with your application.

 

Unit Testing

Unit testing in Laravel is the process of testing individual components of a software application in isolation. In Laravel, unit tests are usually written in the PHPUnit testing framework. Unit tests are typically written to test the functionality of a single class.

Laravel provides an easy way to create and run unit tests. Unit tests are created in the tests/ directory of your application and are typically named after the class that is being tested. For example, if you were testing the User model, your test may be named UserTest.php.

To run all of your tests, you can simply execute the phpunit command in the root of your application. Laravel also provides some helpful assertions to make writing tests easier. These assertions are available in the TestCase class, which is extended by all test classes.

The most important benefit of unit testing is that it allows developers to quickly identify and fix issues in their code. By writing tests first, developers can ensure that their code is well-tested and robust. Unit tests are also invaluable for debugging and refactoring code, as they provide an easy way to ensure that code changes haven't broken existing functionality.

 

Feature Testing

Feature testing in Laravel is a type of automated testing used to test the features of an application. Feature tests make sure that the features of an application are working as expected.

Feature testing in Laravel is done using the Laravel testing framework. This framework provides a powerful and easy-to-use testing environment with a large set of assertions and expectations. Feature tests are written using the PHPUnit testing framework.

To write feature tests in Laravel, you will need to create a new test class. This test class will contain various test methods that will be executed to test the features of the application. Within the test methods, you can use the various assertions and expectations provided by the Laravel testing framework.

For example, you can use the assertJson() method to test that a feature is returning the correct JSON response. You can also use the assertDatabaseHas() method to test that a feature is correctly updating the database.

In addition to using the Laravel testing framework, you can also use various other tools for feature testing in Laravel. These tools include the Dusk and BrowserKit testing packages. These packages provide additional features and capabilities that are not available in the Laravel testing framework.

Feature testing in Laravel is an important part of the development process and can help ensure that the application is functioning as expected. With the right tools and techniques, you can easily ensure that the features of your application are functioning correctly.

 

Final Thoughts

Laravel is a great framework to work with. It has been a pleasure getting to know the framework and its capabilities over the past few months. I am looking forward to learning more about it and taking advantage of its powerful features. Laravel has allowed me to quickly develop complex applications with a modern, maintainable and efficient codebase. This makes the development process much more enjoyable. I would highly recommend Laravel to any developer looking for a robust and reliable framework to work with.

 

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