What is Laravel?


Those who code in PHP know that you can associate it with many words, like flexibility, freedom, or ease, but rarely elegance comes to your mind. Spaghetti code can be “tasty” to figure out to extreme developers, however, in the community of coders, it is a bad practice. So, to make PHP elegant, reduce similar functionalities, and stop defining the same structure over and over again, you need to add a framework. 

Laravel is one of the most popular PHP open-source frameworks. Like any other framework, its task is to provide ready-made solutions to:

  • reduce the code, structure it logically to be able to understand it when revising or debugging later;
  • ease up the integration of additional plugins and introduce the in-built ones;
  • provide ready-made solutions and automatize manual processes.

Laravel was initially intended to become a more efficient substitute for CodeIgniter. The later did not contain authentication and authorization support, and it was a major turn off as for more and more websites logging in and signing up was a must. Since 2011, Laravel went from beta-version that was not even MVC-structured, to the improved and complex framework as it is now. The latest update to the 7.2 version dates back to the 19th of March 2020. It means Laravel keeps evolving, providing numerous prospectives to the projects that are about to be built on it. Laravel creators themselves state that this is the framework for artisans, who have no time to sweat over small things as they strive to create something huge!

Laravel’s most appealing features

  1. Modular packaging system. Modular programming is a way of structuring your code into modules. They can operate both independently and together. It helps to logically divide the large piece of code into chunks, each responsible for different tasks. Structuring anything this way is more convenient, and it helps to understand all aspects of coding better. Here, Laravel went further. It provides ready-made chunks structured into modules. Without Laravel, you would have to code them all from scratch. Here, you get a manual that some other dev outlined before you.Basically, integrating packages is like hiring people to your development team. You all have one aim – to make the app work. However, designers outline UI and UX, devs code, and QA managers test for bugs. They work independently, and the designer cannot substitute tester, as he has a set of unique skills. However, they can cooperate. Same in the code. Each package contains separate functions that supplement each other. Also, they are placed in different folders, just like teammates work by personal desks with individual notebooks. 
  2. Homestead VirtualBox allows out-of-the-box development. That means your devs won’t have to arrange servers and databases. They install Laravel – they start coding right away.
  3. Eloquent Object Relational Mapping. The main thing why everyone is so keen on Laravel is its healthy relationships with databases. Only think of it – the enormous amount of data about users, products, items, and dates. All of that is interlinked in three ways: one-to-one, one-to-many, and many-to-many. Any time the user changes the info/orders something/interacts – the data must be updated. Eloquent ORM makes these processes smoother and easier to perform by turning database tables into classes. This improves access to them and helps to make changes that do not interfere with the processes and do not create bugs.
  4. Model-View-Controller architecture divides the logic of an app into three components: model, view, and controller. MODEL manages the data, reacts to the CONTROLLER commands that change the data. VIEW displays the MODEL data to website users. The changes in MODEL trigger changes in VIEW. CONTROLLER interprets the users’ actions to the MODEL, triggering data changes.

5) The Artisan command-line interface enables you to give commands that Laravel will process to a computer and complete. For example, you can command to install the framework or package through Composer, create or delete the user, etc. The only thing you need is to write the line of text that Laravel understands as a command. 

For example, composer require laravel/tinker

6) Authorization in Laravel comes as a package, and it was one of the first features, distinguishing it from other frameworks. 

7) UNIT testing allows testing some packages that the devs implement or code from scratch without the help of people. For example, there are modules that always perform the same task all over again. Let’s say, they calculate the taxes based on income and state information in the database. To check if the module works, you command Laravel to perform Unit testing and see if everything’s okay. Let’s say, you hire a dev who wants to change this calculation in favor of his dad-businessman. He changes some lines of code, and… Unit testing will detect such unvalidated activity. Thus, this package eliminates code changes that interfere with the pre-built set of rules.

Pros of Laravel

1) Strong security. Eloquent ORM and the ability to ban malicious HTML-elements enable overcoming two security risks: SQL-injections and cross-site scripting. The first thread targets databases and it may result in user’s data retrieval or changes of entries. The second one deals with separate users and their cookies copying. 

2) Community support. The popularity of PHP results in the increase of Laravel supporters who get together in different forums. Laravel fans and users often arrange webinars and conferences, create guides, manuals, and courses. If you encounter some problem, it is enough to just write the question in one of the community support resources, and the answer will come right away. However, chances are, you won’t have to because another advantage of Laravel is…

3) Great documentation. It is great because it’s as elegant and structured as the framework itself. This contributes to the fact that Laravel has a low learning curve, meaning that it is easy to learn (for example, when comparing to its alternative Symfony). As for learning, Laravel is really advanced in it. For example, there is an E-Learning solution aimed to teach how to code, and Laravel is prioritized here. 

4) Fast application building. Modular packaging system, Homestead VirtualBox, and other great Laravel features we’ve described before automatize or make the development easier. If you don’t need to perform many actions manually – you deploy faster. As a client, you yield results faster and that means less time waiting for the profit. 

Cons of Laravel

1) The Legacy system. To develop the project in Laravel, you need to work with standards of coding. That’s the other side of the coin. The bright side is the strict hierarchy and structure. The dark side is a lack of flexibility. The legacy system tends to feel outdated. However, unified standards save time on decision-making. 

2) GREAT Laravel devs are hard to find. Especially those who would fit your budget. Here, you need to prepare to avoid saving costs on devs. Their rates will be higher than those of devs with only PHP acquisition.

3) Redundant packages. Laravel comes with pre-build packages, and that’s cool. Still, you may not need them all, and they will still be there… being an eyesore or just taking over the performance of your app.

Laravel at SapientPro

Laravel is one of the most popular frameworks among our clients, especially when we talk about medium-sized projects. With Laravel, we’ve successfully developed projects in the field of the marketplace, creating a content management platform for Contentoo. We’ve worked with Metz – media agency that promotes brands with SMS marketing, native ads, emailing, etc. Laravel was a great solution for E-Commerce applications for Dzintars. This framework suits different industries, and we are looking forward to trying out new ones with you!

Also, fun fact: when I’ve asked our Laravel developer about what they like and don’t like about this platform, some of them could only think of redundant packages. Others sat there, in the office kitchen a minute in silence, saying later “Nope, it’s all great”.

It’s really all great.

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