A fundamental skill for any developer is understanding web frameworks and their apt usage to build robust websites and mobile apps. In addition, the tools used for development must be time-saving and checked for bugs.
Laravel is a full-stack PHP framework extensively used by PHP developers. Packed with many features, nearly 50% of developers say they use Laravel regularly. Moreover, Google data shows that Laravel is trending higher in searches than Symfony or other alternatives.
This Laravel tutorial will help beginners learn Laravel basics and explain what makes it a top choice for developers.
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What is Laravel?
Laravel is an open-source PHP framework that allows access to relational databases, a modular packaging system with a dedicated dependency manager and other application deployment and maintenance functionalities.
Until 2011, CodeIgniter was the most popular and well-documented PHP framework, although it lacked certain critical attributes such as user authorisation and authentication. To address the limitations of CodeIgniter, Taylor Otwell started developing Laravel, with the first version Laravel 1 releasing in June 2011. The latest version is Laravel 9, released on February 8, 2022.
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Features of Laravel
In this Laravel course, we’ll look at some of the features of the Laravel PHP framework that make it a popular choice for building web applications:
Laravel comes with in-built lightweight templates to design complex and simple layouts with dynamic content. Further, it offers multiple widgets integrating CSS and JS code with robust structures.
Laravel enables users to take a flexible approach, defining routes in the web application. As a result, routing improves application performance and helps scale.
Laravel provides pre-installed, object-oriented and modular libraries, allowing users to enhance applications. Moreover, the Laravel framework is divided into individual modules based on modern PHP principles for modular and responsive web application development.
Query Builder and Object Relational Mapping (ORM)
Laravel has a query builder for querying databases using different simple chain methods. In addition, the framework provides Eloquent Object Relational Mapper (ORM) that incorporates PHP ActiveRecord implementation, allowing developers to write database queries using PHP syntax in place of writing SQL code.
Laravel provides convenient methods for password resetting and sending password reminders that ease designing web application authentication.
Laravel framework supports the MVC architecture pattern ensuring that business logic is separated from presentation layers. With multiple in-built functions, the MVC architecture of Laravel imparts scalability, improves security and boosts application performance.
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Artisan is a built-in command-line tool that helps automate most repetitive programming tasks. Artisan has applications in building the database structure and the skeleton code and migration, making it easy to manage different database systems. It can also generate original MVC files through the command line and manage assets and configurations.
Laravel provides robust web application security through hashed and salted password mechanisms. It also uses prepared SQL statements to prevent SQL injection attacks and Bcrypt Hashing Algorithm from generating encrypted passwords.
This section of the Laravel tutorial will overview the Laravel architecture. The Laravel framework follows the MVC (Model View Controller) architecture pattern, which essentially includes the following:
Model: The ‘M’ in MVC stands for model, and it is a class that deals with a database.
View: The ‘V’ in MVC stands for view, a class dealing with HTML. The view represents everything that we see on the application in the browser.
Controller: The ‘C’ of MVC is the controller, and it deals with both the model and the view. It retrieves data from the model and sends it to the view class.
This Laravel tutorial will list the steps you can follow to install Laravel (Laravel 5.7) on your system.
- Visit https://getcomposer.org/download/ to download and install Composer. Laravel uses Composer to manage dependencies; therefore, it’s a must before installing Laravel.
- Once the Composer installation is done, check it by typing the Composer command in the command prompt (shown below for Windows).
- Now, you have to create a new Laravel project. For this, create a new directory anywhere on your system. Now, move to the path where you have created the new directory and then type the command composer create-project laravel/laravel – prefer-dist there to install Laravel.
In the case of Laravel 5.7, typing the command composer create-project laravel/laravel test dev-develop will install the following command. The command output is shown below:
- The above command installs Laravel in the current directory. You can start the Laravel service by executing the PHP artisan serve command. The screen shows:
- Copy and paste: http://localhost:8080 in your browser. If the Laravel installation is successful, you will see the Laravel home screen on your browser.
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Laravel Application Structure
The Laravel application structure refers to the structure of files, folders and sub-folders included in a project. After creating a project in Laravel, you will see the application structure (shown below).
The Root Directory
The root directory of Laravel contains the following folders and directories:
- app directory: contains your application’s core code
- bootstrap folder: contains files that bootstrap the framework and configure autoloading
- cache folder: contains framework generated files for optimising bootstrap performance
- config directory: contains all the configuration files of your application
- database folder: contains database migration and seeds
- resources directory: includes raw assets (SASS, LESS, CoffeeScript), views and localisation files
- storage directory: contains compiled Blade templates, file caches, file-based sessions and other files that the framework generates. Storage is further segregated into the framework, app and logs directories.
- vendor directory: contains Composer dependencies
- tests directory: contains automated tests
Benefits of Laravel
We will wrap up this Laravel tutorial by highlighting some of the most important benefits of the PHP framework.
- Laravel has a shallow learning curve ideal for inexperienced programmers. As a result, developers don’t have to deal with complex code to develop new web applications.
- The MVC architectural pattern of Laravel allows seamless management of complex and large-scale projects. At the same time, the extensive range of tools, libraries, and templates help developers build stable and flexible web applications.
- Laravel’s built-in lightweight template engine is a highly intuitive tool that allows developers to create web applications with a stable and robust structure. Likewise, the built-in command-line tool Artisan helps in automation and database migration.
- Laravel’s robust security features can combat online threats and cybersecurity risks.
- Laravel offers advanced integrated features that you can easily add to your application with minimum coding. For example, Socialite offers a simplified authentication mechanism for social sites like Google and Facebook.
- Laravel comes with built-in testing features for timely identification and elimination of bugs.
- Last but not least, Laravel has a large and active developer community for quick help and support.
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Is Laravel easy to learn?
If you are familiar with PHP, you will find that Laravel has a simple learning curve. Apart from having a helpful community, Laravel has ample resources, including written tutorials, podcasts and videos to help you learn the framework from scratch.
Is Laravel backend or frontend?
Laravel is a server-side backend framework for building web applications. It manages data with the help of the MVC (Model View Controller) design.
Is Laravel better than PHP?
Both Laravel and PHP are excellent frameworks for building PHP-based web applications. While PHP offers relatively straightforward development solutions, Laravel is more diverse in resources and tools that make the framework more reliable.