Laravel Application Development Cookbook

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By Terry Matula
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  1. Free Chapter
    Setting Up and Installing Laravel
About this book

When creating a web application, there are many PHP frameworks from which to choose. Some are very easy to set up, and some have a much steeper learning curve. Laravel offers both paths. You can do a quick installation and have your app up-and-running in no time, or you can use Laravel’s extensibility to create an advanced and fully-featured app.

Laravel Application Development Cookbook provides you with working code examples for many of the common problems that web developers face. In the process, it will also allow both new and existing Laravel users to expand their knowledge of the framework.

This book will walk you through all aspects of Laravel development. It begins with basic set up and installation procedures, and continues through more advanced use cases.

You will also learn about all the helpful features that Laravel provides to make your development quick and easy. For more advanced needs, you will also see how to utilize Laravel’s authentication features and how to create a RESTful API.

In the Laravel Application Development Cookbook, you will learn everything you need to know about a great PHP framework, with working code that will get you up-and-running in no time.

Publication date:
October 2013


Chapter 1. Setting Up and Installing Laravel

In this chapter, we will cover:

  • Installing Laravel as a git submodule

  • Setting up a virtual host and development environment in Apache

  • Creating "clean" URLs

  • Configuring Laravel

  • Using Laravel with Sublime Text 2

  • Setting up your IDE to autocomplete Laravel's namespaces

  • Using Autoloader to map a class name to its file

  • Creating advanced Autoloaders with namespaces and directories



In this chapter, we'll learn how to get Laravel up-and-running with ease and make sure it's simple to update when any core changes are made. We'll also get our development and coding environment set up to be very efficient so we can focus on writing great code and not have to worry about issues not related to our applications. Finally, we'll look at some ways to get Laravel to automatically do some work for us so we'll be able to extend our application in very little time.


Installing Laravel as a git submodule

There may be a time when we want to have our Laravel installation separate from the rest of our public files. In this case, installing Laravel as a git submodule would be a solution. This will allow us to update our Laravel files through git without touching our application code.

Getting ready

To get started, we should have our development server running as well as have git installed. In the server's web directory, create a myapp directory to hold our files. Installation will all be done in the command line.

How to do it...

To complete this recipe, follow these steps:

  1. In your terminal or command line, navigate to the root of myapp. The first step is to initialize git and download our project files:

    $ git init
    $ git clone
  2. Since all we need is the public directory, move to /laravel and delete everything else:

    $ cd laravel
    $ rm –r app bootstrap vendor
  3. Then, move back to the root directory, create a framework directory, and add Laravel as a submodule:

    $ cd ..
    $ mkdir framework
    $ cd framework
    $ git init
    $ git submodule add
  4. Now we need to run Composer to install the framework:

    php composer.phar install


    More information about installing Composer can be found at The rest of the book will assume we're using composer.phar, but we could also add it globally and simply call it by typing composer.

  5. Now, open /laravel/public/index.php and find the following lines:

    require __DIR__.'/../bootstrap/autoload.php';
    $app = require_once __DIR__.'/../bootstrap/start.php';
  6. Change the preceding lines to:

    require __DIR__.'/../../framework/laravel/bootstrap/autoload.php';
    $app = require_once __DIR__.'/../../framework/laravel/bootstrap/start.php';

How it works...

For many, simply running git clone would be enough to get their project going. However, since we want to have our framework act as a submodule, we need to separate those files from our project.

First, we download the files from GitHub, and since we don't need any of the framework files, we can delete everything but our public folder. Then, we create our submodule in the framework directory and download everything there. When that's complete, we run composer install to get all our vendor packages installed.

To get the framework connected to our application, we modify /laravel/public/index.php and change the require paths to our framework directory. That will let our application know exactly where the framework files are located.

There's more...

One alternative solution is to move the public directory to our server's root. Then, while updating our index.php file, we'll use __DIR__ . '/../framework/laravel/bootstrap' to include everything correctly.


Setting up a virtual host and development environment in Apache

When developing our Laravel app, we'll need a web server to run everything. In PHP 5.4 and up, we can use the built-in web server, but if we need some more functionality, we'll need a full web stack. In this recipe, we'll be using an Apache server on Windows, but any OS with Apache will be similar.

Getting ready

This recipe requires a recent version of WAMP server, available at, though the basic principle applies to any Apache configuration on Windows.

How to do it...

To complete this recipe, follow these steps:

  1. Open the WAMP Apache httpd.conf file. It is often located in C:/wamp/bin/apache/Apach2.#.#/conf.

  2. Locate the line #Include conf/extra/httpd-vhosts.conf and remove the first #.

  3. Move to the extra directory, open the httpd-vhosts.conf file, and add the following code:

    <VirtualHost *:80>
        ServerAdmin {}
        DocumentRoot "C:/path/to/myapp/public"
        <Directory "C:/path/to/myapp/public">
            Options Indexes FollowSymLinks
            AllowOverride all
            # onlineoffline tag - don't remove
            Order Deny,Allow
            Deny from all
            Allow from
  4. Restart the Apache service.

  5. Open the Windows hosts file, often in C:/Windows/System32/drivers/etc, and open the file hosts in a text editor.

  6. At the bottom of the file, add the line

How it works...

First, in the Apache config file httpd.conf, we uncomment the line to allow the file to include the vhosts configuration files. You can include the code directly in the httpd.conf file, but this method keeps things more organized.

In the httpd-vhosts.conf file, we add our VirtualHost code. DocumentRoot tells the server where the files are located and ServerName is the base URL that the server will look for. Since we only want to use this for our local development, we make sure to only allow access to the localhost with the IP

In the hosts file, we need to tell Windows which IP to use for the URL. After restarting Apache and our browser, we should be able to go to and view our application.

There's more...

While this recipe is specific to Windows and WAMP, the same idea can be applied to most Apache installations. The only difference will be the location of the httpd.conf file (in Linux Ubuntu, it's in /etc/apache2) and the path to the public directory for DocumentRoot (in Ubuntu, it might be something like /var/www/myapp/public). The hosts file for Linux and Mac OS X will be located in /etc/hosts.


Creating "clean" URLs

When installing Laravel, the default URL we will use is http://{your-server}/public. If we decide to remove /public, we can use Apache's mod_rewrite to change the URL.

Getting ready

For this recipe, we just need a fresh installation of Laravel and everything running on a properly configured Apache server.

How to do it...

To complete this recipe, follow these steps:

  1. In our app's root directory, add a .htaccess file and use this code:

    <IfModule mod_rewrite.c>
        RewriteEngine On
        RewriteRule ^(.*)$ public/$1 [L]
  2. Go to http://{your-server} and view your application.

How it works...

This simple bit of code will take anything we add in the URL and direct it to the public directory. That way, we don't need to manually type in /public.

There's more...

If we decide to move this application to a production environment, this is not the best way to accomplish the task. In that case, we would just move our files outside the web root and make /public our root directory.


Configuring Laravel

After installing Laravel, it's pretty much ready to go without much need for configuration. However, there are a few settings we want to make sure to update.

Getting ready

For this recipe, we need a regular installation of Laravel.

How to do it...

To complete this recipe, follow these steps:

  1. Open /app/config/app.php and update these lines:

    'url' => 'http://localhost/,
    'locale' => 'en',
    'key' => 'Seriously-ChooseANewKey',
  2. Open app/config/database.php and choose your preferred database:

    'default' => 'mysql',
    'connections' => array(
        'mysql' => array(
            'driver'    => 'mysql',
            'host'      => 'localhost',
            'database'  => 'database',
            'username'  => 'root',
            'password'  => '',
            'charset'   => 'utf8',
            'collation' => 'utf8_unicode_ci',
            'prefix'    => '',
  3. In the command line, go to the root of the app and make sure the storage folder is writable:

    chmod –R 777 app/storage

How it works...

Most of the configuration will happen in the /app/config/app.php file. While setting the URL isn't required, and Laravel does a great job figuring it out without setting it, it's always good to remove any work from the framework that we can. Next, we set our location. If we choose to provide localization in our app, this setting will be our default. Then, we set our application key, since it's best to not keep the default.

Next, we set which database driver we'll be using. Laravel comes with four drivers out of the box: mysql, sqlite, sqlsrv (MS SQL Server), and pgsql (Postgres).

Finally, our app/storage directory will be used for keeping any temporary data, such as sessions or cache, if we choose. To allow this, we need to make sure the app can write to the directory.

There's more...

For an easy way to create a secure application key, remove the default key and leave it empty. Then, in your command line, navigate to your application root directory and type:

php artisan key:generate

That will create a unique and secure key and automatically save it in your configuration file.


Using Laravel with Sublime Text 2

One of the most popular text editors used for coding is Sublime Text. Sublime has many features that make coding fun, and with plugins, we can add in Laravel-specific features to help with our app.

Getting ready

Sublime Text 2 is a popular code editor that is very extensible and makes writing code effortless. An evaluation version can be downloaded from

We also need to have the Package Control package installed and enabled in Sublime, and that can be found at

How to do it...

For this recipe, follow these steps:

  1. In your menu bar, go to Preferences then Package Control:

  2. Choose Install Package:

  3. Search for laravel to see the listing. Choose Laravel 4 Snippets and let it install. After it's complete, choose Laravel-Blade and install it.

How it works...

The Laravel snippets in Sublime Text 2 greatly simplify writing common code, and it includes pretty much everything we'll need for application development. For example, when creating a route, simply start typing Route and a list will pop up allowing us to choose which route we want, which then automatically completes the rest of the code we need.

There's more...

Installing the Laravel-Blade package is helpful if we use the Blade template system that comes with Laravel. It recognizes Blade code in the files and will automatically highlight the syntax.


Setting up your IDE to autocomplete Laravel's namespaces

Most IDEs (Integrated Development Environment) have some form of code completion as part of the program. To get Laravel's namespaces to autocomplete, we may need to help it recognize what the namespaces are.

Getting ready

For this recipe, we'll be adding namespaces to the NetBeans IDE, but the process will be similar with others.

How to do it...

Follow these steps to complete this recipe:

  1. Download the following pre-made file that lists the Laravel namespaces:

  2. Create a folder anywhere on your computer to hold this file. For our purposes, we'll add the file to C:/ide_helper/ide_helper.php:

  3. After creating a project with the Laravel framework, navigate to File | Project Properties | PHP Include Path:

  4. Click on Add Folder… and then add the folder at C:/ide_helper.

  5. Now when we start typing the code, the IDE will automatically suggest code to complete:

How it works...

Some IDEs need help understanding the syntax of a framework. To get NetBeans to understand, we download a list of all the Laravel classes and options. Then, when we add it to the Include Path, NetBeans will automatically check the file and show us the autocomplete options.

There's more...

We can have the documents downloaded and updated automatically using Composer. For installation instructions, visit


Using Autoloader to map a class name to its file

Using Laravel's ClassLoader, we can easily include any of our custom class libraries in our code and have them readily available.

Getting ready

For this recipe, we need to set up a standard Laravel installation.

How to do it...

To complete this recipe, follow these steps:

  1. In the Laravel /app directory, create a new directory named custom, which will hold our custom classes.

  2. In the custom directory, create a file named MyShapes.php and add this simple code:

    class MyShapes {
        public function octagon() 
            return 'I am an octagon';
  3. In the /app/start directory, open global.php and update ClassLoader so it looks like this:

  4. Now we can use that class in any part of our application. For example, if we create a route:

    Route::get('shape', function()
        $shape = new MyShapes;
        return $shape->octagon();

How it works...

Most of the time, we will use Composer to add packages and libraries to our app. However, there may be libraries that aren't available through Composer or custom libraries that we want to keep separate. To accomplish this, we need to dedicate a spot to hold our class libraries; in this case, we create a directory named custom and put it in our app directory.

Then we add our class files, making sure the class names and filenames are the same. This could either be classes we create ourselves or maybe even a legacy class that we need to use.

Finally, we add the directory to Laravel's ClassLoader. When that's complete, we'll be able to use those classes anywhere in our application.

See also

  • The Creating advanced Autoloaders with namespaces and directories recipe


Creating advanced Autoloaders with namespaces and directories

If we want to be sure that our custom classes don't conflict with any other class in our app, we will need to add them to a namespace. Using the PSR-0 standard and Composer, we can easily autoload these classes into Laravel.

Getting ready

For this recipe, we need to set up a standard Laravel installation.

How to do it...

To complete this recipe, follow these steps:

  1. Inside the /app directory, create a new directory named custom, and inside of custom, create a directory named Custom, and in Custom, create a directory named Shapes.

  2. Inside the /app/custom/Custom/Shapes directory, create a file named MyShapes.php and add this code:

    <?php namespace Custom\Shapes;
    class MyShapes {
        public function triangle() 
            return 'I am a triangle';
  3. In the root of the application, open the composer.json file and locate the autoload section. Update it so it looks like this:

    "autoload": {
        "classmap": [
        "psr-0": {
            "Custom": "app/custom"
  4. Open the command line and run dump-autoload on Composer:

    php composer.phar dump-autoload
  5. Now we can call that class by using its namespace. For example, if we create a route:

    Route::get('shape', function()
        $shape = new Custom\Shapes\MyShapes;
        return $shape->triangle();

How it works...

Namespaces are a powerful addition to PHP, and they allow our classes to be used without us having to worry about their class names interfering with other class names. By autoloading namespaces in Laravel, we could create a complex group of classes and never have to worry about class names conflicting with other namespaces.

For our purposes, we're loading the custom class through composer, and the PSR-0 standard of autoloading.

There's more...

To further extend the use of our namespaced class, we could use the IoC to bind it to our app. More information can be found in the Laravel documentation at

See also

  • The Using Autoloader to map a class name to its file recipe

About the Author
  • Terry Matula

    Terry Matula is a web developer and Laravel advocate based in Austin, TX. He's been a passionate computer enthusiast since he first played Oregon Trail on an Apple//e. He started programming in BASIC at a young age, making simple Scott Adams-like games on a Commodore Vic-20. Since then, he's worked as a developer using Flash/ActionScript, ASP.NET, PHP, and numerous PHP frameworks, with Laravel being his favorite by far. He blogs web development tips and tricks at his website

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