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What is Laravel? A complete and simplified explanation.

Benjamin Crozat's avatar. Benjamin Crozat, published on — 8 minutes read

As a web developer, Laravel changed my life. It made me better at building web applications, taking complete control over them, and stepping up my freelance game to the point that I’m blogging about it. Here are all your answers about Laravel, without going too deep into technical details.

What is Laravel?

Laravel is a web framework that gives developers many pre-built features and guidelines for writing and organizing code. Taylor Otwell created Laravel back in 2011 as a more advanced alternative to CodeIgniter, another open-source PHP framework.

Laravel’s website.

Is Laravel frontend or backend?

Laravel is a full-stack framework. Yes, it is a backend development framework, but it also manages the frontend of your web applications.

Are PHP and Laravel the same?

PHP is a server-side scripting language. Laravel is a tool made with PHP.

Are there alternative PHP frameworks? 

Yes, there are. Here is a list of the best alternative PHP web frameworks: SymfonyCodeIgniterCakePHP, etc.
Whichever you choose doesn’t matter. They all have their pros and cons, and only what you make with them truly matters.

What is the most used PHP framework?

In 2022, the Laravel framework is the most used PHP framework, way ahead of Symfony. Laravel developers should have pretty good job security for years to come.

What is Laravel used for?

PHP developers use the Laravel framework to build web applications and web APIs. It may be what powers your favorite website or mobile application.

Why use Laravel?

You can use the Laravel framework to accelerate the development process of your next fantastic idea. Laravel makes it easy for developers to work as a team thanks to a set of well documented conventions and pre-made tools.

Who uses Laravel?

Plenty of people use the Laravel framework. From hobbyists to startups and big corporations. Here are a few names:

  • 9GAG
  • Apple
  • BBC
  • MasterCard
  • Pfizer
  • And so many more…

What can you do with Laravel?

What you can do with the Laravel framework is limitless. Here are a few examples:

  • A blog
  • A marketplace
  • A social network
  • A web API that powers a mobile application

What features does Laravel offer?

Laravel offers many features. I’ll do my best to list them here:

  • A service container (containing all the dependencies of your Laravel application)
  • Routing
  • Middleware
  • CSRF protection
  • Controllers (Laravel uses the MVC architecture, which stands for Model View Controller)
  • HTTP Requests
  • Responses
  • Views (which use Blade templates)
  • Templates (with the Blade template engine)
  • Asset bundling
  • URL generation
  • Session
  • Validation
  • Error handling
  • Logging
  • The Artisan command line utility
  • Broadcasting
  • Cache
  • Collections
  • Contracts
  • Events
  • File storage
  • Helpers
  • HTTP client
  • Localization
  • Mail
  • Notifications
  • Package Development
  • Queues
  • Rate limiting
  • Task scheduling (allows you to run common tasks automatically at your preferred interval)
  • User authentication
  • Authorization
  • Email verification
  • Encryption
  • Hashing
  • Password reset
  • Database query builder
  • Pagination
  • Database migrations
  • Database seeding
  • Redis
  • The Eloquent ORM
  • Testing

But that’s not it. Thanks to Composer and Laravel’s modular package system, the community provides a huge amount of packages for you to use free of charge (find them on Packagist). Laravel also proposes official packages:

  • Laravel Breeze
  • Laravel Cashier (handles subscriptions by plugging into subscription billing services and payment providers)
  • Laravel Dusk
  • Laravel Envoy
  • Laravel Forge
  • Laravel Fortify
  • Laravel Homestead
  • Laravel Horizon
  • Laravel Jetstream
  • Laravel Mix
  • Laravel Nova (paid)
  • Laravel Octane (which can drastically improve the performance of a web application)
  • Laravel Passport
  • Laravel Pint
  • Laravel Sail
  • Laravel Sanctum
  • Laravel Scout
  • Laravel Socialite
  • Laravel Spark (paid)
  • Laravel Telescope
  • Laravel Valet (a macOS development environment for any Laravel project you might be working on)
  • Laravel Vapor

Let me talk about some of those Laravel packages that I think are remarquable.

What is Laravel Cashier?

Laravel Cashier’s logo.

Laravel Cashier is an abstraction over Stripe’s API (meaning that you don’t have to deal with their RESTful API).

What is Laravel Horizon?

Laravel Horizon’s logo.

Laravel Horizon is a user interface that lets you easily manage jobs (background tasks that take time), see their status, and rerun them if needed.

What is Laravel Octane?

Laravel Octane’s logo.

Laravel Octane is a powerful tool that speeds up any website by keeping the bootstrapping process of Laravel in memory. Only your code will be run every time a visitor goes onto your website. If you have a very high-traffic website, your servers will thank you.

What is Laravel Sanctum?

Laravel Sanctum’s logo.

Laravel Sanctum is a very simple authentication system made for the needs SPAs (Single Page Applications), mobile applications, and token-based web APIs.

What is Laravel Scout?

Laravel Scout’s logo.

Laravel Scout handles searching models for you over database, Meilisearch, Algolia and other services.

How much does Laravel cost?

Laravel costs nothing. It is an open-source project that anybody can use to create any web application. Developers can even contribute to the code of Laravel itself. Here is the official repository of Laravel on GitHub.

Is Laravel easy to learn for beginners?

As long as you already have experience in web development, especially with PHP (PHP is an object-oriented scripting language) you shouldn’t have much trouble learning Laravel.

How to learn Laravel?

The Laravel community is highly active and releases plenty of free and paid Laravel tutorials.

The best way to start learning, apart from the official Laravel documentation, is Laracasts, which proposes plenty of free videos to help you get started.

Here is a list of other resources you might also like:

How long to learn Laravel?

Depending on your abilities and willingness to master it, learning Laravel can either take months or years. How are you familiar with programming? How long have you been a developer? Is Laravel forced on you at school?

Also, do you prefer text content or videos? There are so many variables that it’s impossible to give you an estimation.

I have bits of advice for you:

  • Contribute to open-source projects. It’s one of the most efficient ways to learn. You will also learn how to work with other developers on the same codebase;

  • Start an actual project based on Laravel; this will also be a great source of learning;

  • But most importantly, don’t give up. It doesn’t matter how much time it takes. Laravel is a good investment.

What is the latest Laravel version?

The latest Laravel version is version 9. It was released on February 8th, 2022.

How to host a Laravel application?

My main recommendation for hosting a Laravel application would be DigitalOcean. I’ve been using it for years, as well as many developers, and it never failed me. Scale up your VPC (Virtual Private Server) whenever you need to handle more traffic, and scale it back down when your traffic goes back to normal.

Even better: you can get $100 of credit for 60 days to try it!

Once you get your hosting, I highly recommend using Laravel Forge, which plugs into DigitalOcean and sets up your server for you while also making it super optimized for running Laravel applications.

Or, if you want automated scalability, you may want to try Laravel Vapor, a serverless deployment platform for Laravel applications that uses Amazon Web Services.