Laravel - PHP framework adoption

Laravel - PHP framework adoption

Jun 22 2015 | by PAUL RUSSELL

For the last 5 years AlphaQuad's dedicated in-house development team have specialised in PHP back-end development, taking on the challenges of building bespoke solutions such as Baxi Find an Installer, Baxi Find a Boiler, Caravan Theft Alerts and various warranty registration mechanisms. In addition to this, we have also built our own in-house CMS product that powers many of our client websites.

More recently, over the past 18 months we have been flirting with PHP Framework; Laravel... well all the cool kids were doing it, why wouldn't we?! 

Originating with the release of Laravel 4, our dev team carried out a number of projects on the framework with great success, proving itself to be a rapid and agile platform to build with. Our previous “go to” framework was Yii, which had proved to be a secure and robust platform, so rest assured we will continue to support all the systems we have developed with Yii.

However the development world changes, and there is always a new kid on the block, trying to take the crown of framework of choice. For example, before we adopted Yii, everyone seemed to be using Codeigniter or CakePHP, then moving onto FuelPHP, and if these weren't enterprise enough for you there was always ZF2 or Symfony!

The point is, whichever framework you choose when building client applications, you need to think long term about its support. Just because something is flavour of the month, it doesn't mean you should jump ship and get on board to ride the new wave. It’s important to remember that our clients want, and expect us, to carry on evolving and supporting them long after the initial build… They’re in it for the long term, and so are we!  

Now, all the previously mentioned frameworks are wonderfully acceptable and well supported, however as a developer you really don't want to inherit something that was built on a summer romance of a framework, where the original developer (who was really into it for a while...) has up-sticks to become an iOS developer in Shoreditch. eating breakfast at Cereal Killers! After all, it leaves us, the new development team, with next to no documentation, and the last Stack Overflow activity for this once-so-popular framework having been over 2 years ago.

All this goes to show that adopting a new framework should be very much a considered process, almost like adopting a puppy - remember a framework’s not just for Christmas either!

Over its last few major releases, Laravel has seen its fair share of structural changes, with the mantra "release early, release often" which is great for innovation and its evolution. It's earned itself the reputation as the future of PHP development, and it has great documentation and tutorials, not to mention the fastest growing developer community - everything you could ever ask for as a developer using a framework. 

Despite raising some questions over the fact you can’t quickly upgrade mission critical apps (due to the frameworks ever-evolving network), the release of Laravel 5.1, with it’s long term support, has put our minds at ease. This means that the Laravel team have guaranteed to provide security updates for the next 3 years, resolving any reservations we may have had over an outright adoption. 

Welcome to the beautiful code - our first product to be built by our web artisans with Laravel 5.1 at its core will be our new Manufacturer's Digital Hub.

As well as Laravel, we do love working with other best of breed PHP, and for our next evolution of our own in-house CMS we have taken the approach of a "no framework framework". With the universal adoption of Composer and Git in the PHP world, it has enabled us to glue together all the dependency libraries we will ever need. So, we have taken the best that open source can offer for our new CMS build by borrowing components such as…

  • Slim 3.0 (awaiting final release)
  • Propel 2 ORM
  • Respect valuation
  • Twig
  • PHP League Glide
  • PHP League Flysystem
  • Aura PHP HTML 
  • Monolog
  • HTML Purifier
  • elFinder
  • CKEditor

Together with our own content management module; utilising flexible XML page definition structures that dynamically build easy-to-use form interfaces for content population, to generating a mix of relational data with JSON data content caching, all wrapped up into a responsive bootstrap-based skin!

So, if you have a web problem that needs solving, call on a dev team with the right skills to put together a solution with a long term vision - your business will evolve and your solution will need to adapt, and this is why AlphaQuad can help.

Paul Russell

Laravel - PHP framework adoption