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15 Laravel Collections tips to refactor your codebase

Benjamin Crozat
Modified on Dec 28, 2023 0 comments Edit on GitHub
15 Laravel Collections tips to refactor your codebase

Introduction to Laravel Collections

Laravel Collections are a powerful tool for manipulating arrays. They wrap native PHP array functions, create new useful ones, and provide a fluent interface for working with them.

They’re also immutable, meaning they do not modify the original collection. Instead, they return a new one with the changes applied.

By using collections, you’ll stop wondering about:

  • Which comes first? The needle or the haystack?
  • Does this array function returns a new array, or modifies the original?
  • What’s the difference between array_map() and array_walk()?

And finally, your code will be more readable and easier to maintain.

Laravel Collections methods I always use

Create a collection from an array

To create a collection from an array, use the collect() helper. It’s that simple!

$collection = collect(); // Empty collection.

$collection = collect([1, 2, 3]); // Collection from an array.

If you want a more object-oriented way to create a collection from an array, use the make() static method from Illuminate\Support\Collection:

use \Illuminate\Support\Collection;

$collection = Collection::make([1, 2, 3]); // Object-oriented style.

Transform a collection back into an array

To transform a collection into an array, use the toArray() method.

$collection = collect([1, 2, 3]);

$array = $collection->toArray();

This isn’t necessary most of the time, but it might come in handy from time to time.

Collections work in foreach loops

The goal here is not to use collections the same way as arrays. But I find it important to mention that collections support foreach loops anyway.

foreach ($collection as $item) {

You can even get the key like a normal array:

foreach ($collection as $key => $value) {

Under the hood, they implement the IteratorAggregate interface, which allows objects to be iterated.

Use the each() method of collections instead of foreach loops

We saw in the previous section that collections support foreach loops. But the most basic and common use case for collections is to replace foreach loops using the each method:

use App\Models\Post;

$collection = collect(['Foo', 'Bar', 'Baz']);

$collection->each(function ($value, $key) {

Merge Laravel collections together

Merging two collections together is super easy, barely an inconvenience.

Say we have some molecules of oxygen and we want to merge them to one molecule of hydrogen.

Collections provide the merge() method for that:

$oxygen = ['O', 'O', 'O'];

$hydrogen = ['H', 'H', 'H'];

// Take one molecule of hydrogen and merge them with
// two molecules of oxygen to create H₂O, or water.
$water = $hydrogen->take(2)->merge(

Use the filter() method of collections for cleaning up

It is common practice to use temporary variables to store the result of a loop. Even if this is perfectly fine, collections allow you to do better.

$foo = [];

foreach ($bar as $baz) {
    if ($baz->something()) {
        $foo[] = $baz;

return $foo;

Instead, use the filter method and return the filtered collection.

return $bar->filter(function ($baz) {
    return $baz->something();

How cool is that?

Collections have the sum(), average(), min() and max() methods for handling numbers

Collections provide a set of methods to perform everyday mathematical operations on arrays.

Here’s how it looks using native PHP arrays:

$numbers = [1, 2, 3, 4, 5];

$sum = 0;

foreach ($numbers as $number) {
    $sum += $number;

// $sum is now 15.
collect([1, 2, 3, 4, 5])->sum(); // 15

Of course, you can do more than add numbers.

$numbers = collect([1, 2, 3, 4, 5]);

$numbers->average(); // 3
$numbers->min(); // 1
$numbers->max(); // 5

Collections use higher order messages to help you write more concise code

Higher order messages are shortcuts that will make your code even more concise. Let me show you by example.

Can you refactor this code to a collection first?

foreach (User::where('foo', 'bar')->get() as $user) {
    $user->notify(new SomeNotification);

Here’s the result:

User::where('foo', 'bar')
    ->each(function (User $user) {
        $user->notify(new SomeNotification)

But we can do better.

Using higher-order messages, we can remove the anonymous function and directly access each User model notify() method.

That’s what I was saying; it feels like sorcery!

User::where('foo,' 'bar')
    ->notify(new SomeNotification);

Collections help you say goodbye to unset() with the only() and except() methods

Let’s say you only want to keep a few key-value pairs from an array.

This is how you’d do it in native PHP.

$original = [
  'foo' => 'foo',
  'bar' => 'bar',
  'baz' => 'baz',

$keep = ['foo', 'bar'];

$new = array_intersect_key($original, array_flip($keep));

With Collections, it only takes one line of code thanks to the only() method.

$new = collect($original)->only('foo', 'bar');

Pretty damn cool, right?

Now, imagine we need to do the opposite. We want to exclude some key-value pairs from the array.

This is how you could do it using native PHP array functions.

$original = [
    'foo' => 'foo',
    'bar' => 'bar',
    'baz' => 'baz',

unset($original['foo'], $original['bar']);

And now, here’s how to do it with Collections using the except() method:

$new = collect($original)->except('foo', 'bar');

dump() and dd() are built into collections

Instead of encapsulating your collection inside a dd() helper, you can call the dd() method that’s built-in collections.

// Before.
dd($collection->where('foo', 'bar'));

// After.
$collection->where('foo', 'bar')->dd();

If you don’t want to stop code execution, you want also use dump().

Collections have a handy random() method

When writing factories, did you ever want to randomly pick a value from a given set? random() is the perfect method for this job.

class FooFactory extends Factory
    public function definition()
        return [
		    'foo' => collect(['Foo', 'Bar', 'Baz'])
			    ->shuffle() // [tl! --]
		        ->first(), // [tl! --]
			    ->random(), // [tl! ++]

Collections help you get rid of temporary variables with map()

This is something we all did:

  1. Get data as an array;
  2. Loop over it with foreach, transform each value and push them into a temporary array;
  3. Return the temporary array.

I don’t know for you, but the temporary variable always bothered me. I can illustrate it like so:

namespace App\Twitter;

use App\Twitter\Tweet;
use Illuminate\Support\Facades\Http;

class Client
    public function tweets()
		$tweets = Http::get('')

		$tmp = [];

		foreach ($tweets as $tweet) {
			$tmp[] = new Tweet(...$tweet);

		return $tmp;

With Collections, we get rid of the temporary variable and make the code beautifully shorter.

namespace App\Twitter;

use App\Twitter\Tweet;
use Illuminate\Support\Facades\Http;

class Client
    public function tweets()
		    return Http::get('')
		        ->map(fn ($value) => new Tweet(…$value));

Is your collection empty() or notEmpty(), that is the question

Instead of sticking to our old habit of using count() to check whether a Collection is empty or not, Laravel Collections provide a way more readable way of doing it.

if (! $collection->count()) { // [tl! --]
if ($collection->isEmpty()) { // [tl! ++]
    // Do something if the collection is empty.
if ($collection->count()) { // [tl! --]
if ($collection->isNotEmpty()) { // [tl! ++]
    // Do something if the collection is not empty.

It reads like English, and code like this makes everyone’s life easier.

Use when() or unless() to conditionnally transform a collection

Laravel Collections use the Illuminate\Support\Traits\Conditionable trait. This trait includes two methods that can literally change everything: when() and unless().

This trait is actually used by many other classes in the framework such as:

  • Illuminate\Database\Eloquent\Builder
  • Illuminate\Database\Eloquent\Factories\Factory
  • Illuminate\Log\Logger
  • Illuminate\Http\Client\PendingRequest
  • Illuminate\Support\Carbon

The Conditionable trait offers a way to conditionally apply logic using a fluent API instead of using traditional if statements. One common use case is when working with Eloquent’s query builder. For example, instead of writing:

$query = Model::query();

if ($something) {
    $query->where('something', true);
} else {
    $query->where('something_else', true);

$models = $query->get();

You could opt for a more fluent approach, using the when() method.

$models = Model::query()->when(
    fn ($query) => $query->where('something', true),
    fn ($query) => $query->where('something_else', true),

Obviously, this is just a matter of preference and you’ll do fine if you decide it’s not for you.

Extend collections with your own methods

Among with other classes in Laravel, Collections are “macroable”. It means you can extend them with your own methods at runtime.

It all starts in the boot method of a Service Provider.


use Illuminate\Support\Str;
use Illuminate\Support\Collection;

class AppServiceProvider extends ServiceProvider
	public function boot()
		Collection::macro('pluralize', function () {
			return $this->map(function ($value) {
				 return Str::plural($value);

Then, your custom methods will be available all over the codebase.

$collection = collect(['apple', 'banana', 'strawberry']);

// ['apples', 'bananas', 'strawberries');

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