Becoming A Web Artisan
Whilst this isn’t the usual sort of post I’d write, give it a chance. Recently I was able to learn a popular PHP framework called Laravel at work and built my first project using it. Agreed it was a bit daunting at first, mainly because I’d only heard of Laravel before but had never used it for anything and knowing that it was an MVC (model, view, controller) based framework, I knew my PHP skills would be tested for sure. Whilst I’ve done a lot of work with WordPress, this is a whole new thing and completely different on the development landscape to say the least. I’m usually skeptical about frameworks in any language because they tend to distract away from what you’re actually setting out to do in the first place. There’s a lot of bulk and extras that you don’t really need nor want.
This was different though. You could argue that the system as a whole does hold some kind of bulk behind the scenes to get everything working, but it kind of warrants it. The actual core application is really lightweight and there’s only the essentials that you’d need inside it when you start. If you want to beef it up more then you can, but to begin with there’s not a whole lot going on really which is kind of nice I think.
What I like most about the application though is the awesome set of database related functions readily available to you from the offset. Using a PDO approach to databases makes working with data super easy. I also found that setting up the login part of the application was quite painless which was surprising, although something you must do when you first start because building that into the project after the fact is pretty hard. Lastly, it’s worth mentioning the PHP artisan tool that you’ll become accustomed to when you get going as well. At first it’s a bit strange but the artisan tool lets you manage the application as a whole from the command line, including the database with all sorts of useful bits and pieces. A favourite of mine being
php artisan migrate:refresh which will rerun your database migrations, essentially letting you rollback your databases easily.
Overall though I think my experience using the framework for the first time went quite well and I’m excited to use it more and see what other cool things you can do with it as I’m sure I’ve only scratched away the surface. I found the Laracasts site to be helpful in getting started although at the very beginning there’s a steep learning curve. There are a couple of courses for free too so it’s not too bad. My only problem is what do I build next?