Laravel Thoughts

By Mark Nuyens
4 min. read💻 Development

Laravel is a PHP web application framework that has gained a lot of popularity in recent years. One of the primary reasons for its success is the framework's ability to provide a default setup that makes it easier for developers to get started with building applications. Laravel provides many features out of the box and has a robust ecosystem that allows developers to add additional functionality to their applications with ease. It almost feels too good to be true.

However, the ease of use can be misleading for newcomers who are unfamiliar with the framework's inner workings. Much of Laravel's logic is hidden from us behind clever methods and files. This can make it challenging for developers who want to learn to use Laravel and PHP simultaneously, as it can be hard to distinguish between PHP's native methods and Laravel's custom functionality. Therefore Laravel's simplicity can feel like a double-edged sword for those just starting out.

As an experienced PHP developer, I find Laravel's source code elegant and well-crafted, but it can also be overwhelming to explore the framework from the inside out. Many developers, including myself, want to understand the inner workings of the framework rather than just getting a site off the ground. Laravel's rigid conventions can also limit flexibility, as it has its own way of doing things, making it difficult to implement unique solutions or work with existing systems that do not conform to Laravel's standards.

Although Laravel is considered a great choice among many developers, at the same time it's essential to recognize its trade-offs carefully and consider any potential limitations of the framework. While its built-in features and easy-to-use ecosystem can save you time and effort in the development process, understanding the framework's raw functionality may be crucial for those looking to expand their programming experience.

At the same time, I realize that finding the right balance can be challenging to Laravel as well, given the vast and varied nature of their audience. The framework caters to beginners and experienced developers alike, making it a daunting task to create documentation that fits the expectations of both of these groups. Despite this difficulty, Laravel's documentation is exemplary and has definitely played a significant role in the framework's success.

However, to help developers better understand the underlying mechanisms at play, Laravel might just benefit from providing additional documentation on how things work behind the scenes. While the framework's ease of use and robust ecosystem are undoubtedly convenient, there sure is a lot happening under the hood, and understanding this may be important to some developers, including myself.

While I don't want to seem overly critical, I do believe this is an issue worth addressing. I'm grateful for Laravel's existence and the fact that it allows me to pursue web development as a full-time job. However, I can't help but think about my younger, less experienced self who struggled to comprehend both PHP and Laravel simultaneously. It's essential for those developers to have a better understanding of the underlying mechanisms at play.

In conclusion, Laravel's ability to offer an excellent starting point for web application development is a significant advantage. However, the framework's "hidden magic" can present challenges for developers looking to increase their understanding, flexibility, and control over their code. While Laravel's ease of use and robust ecosystem are undoubtedly convenient, developers should be aware that there is a lot happening under the hood.

Update June 26th, 2023

Apparently Laracasts has released a new video series to "demystify Laravel Magic", as they call it. Needless to say, I find this a great way to show support for developers who want to discover the inner working of Laravel to grow as a developer.

Thank you for reading!