I love PHPStorm, but it can only do so much. Even with plugins like Laravel Idea, you may still have some missing features. One that I wish I had was autocomplete of models from collections or paginators in blade files. Well, turns out there’s an easy enough way to add this functionality for yourself.
The prepareForValidation() method is really useful in Laravel requests: it helps modify the incoming data so that validation might be easier. But you need to be careful that you implement it correctly and don’t mess up your data. Let me explain.
What’s the difference between unit test, integration test, and a feature test? Which should you use for what type of test? Is it just preference or does performance factor in when using Laravel? Let me give you my take from over a decade of unit testing experience.
There seems to be an endless debate: clearly written code doesn’t need comments vs comments are needed to explain code and give context. I can see both sides of this debate, but there is a middle ground. Let me show you one way.
I’d like to say I don’t ever have tons of error logs in my Laravel projects - but, sometimes it happens. With a sea of text, how can you see what you need to see easily? Enter JetBrain’s idealog plugin in PHPStorm.
First off, if you can use something like mailtrap I definitely recommend doing it. Mailtrap provides credentials and configuration so you can capture all of your email into a test inbox. But if that’s not possible, there is another option - and it has to do with Laravel’s mail events.
I use Laravel Nova in a lot of my projects, but I’ve never liked the idea of storing the files in a local directory after download. Yes, you can use credentials for a Composer-based install, true, but I wanted something that didn’t require that. Turns out you can install packages like Laravel Nova from a zip file locally. Here’s how.
I’ll say it again: do not install Laravel Tinker in production, and certainly do not use it. It’s a great tool to do work in your application, but only in test and development environments. That’s why I only install it in my require-dev section of my composer.json file.
When given a choice of methods and ways to do something, it might not be clear which way is the best. As programmers, we tend to pick the easiest, then. However, the easiest can have security implications. Let me illustrate why we should use more stringent controls in a Laravel project.
Currently, there are two pretty common packages for interacting with your database: Eloquent and Doctrine. Eloquent is part of Laravel and Doctrine, while used often on its own, is usually referenced with Symfony. If you’ve come to read this article, you’re probably versed in Doctrine and wondering why you can’t just - or shouldn’t just - use it with your new Laravel project.
Open source software is wonderful for many reasons. One of the best is we can see and inspect the software for vulnerabilities. But, far too many people actually do this. Let me demonstrate, using a Laravel package, how this lack of review might backfire and cause you grief.
Sometimes it makes sense to filter user input before it goes to validation. If you’re using controller-based validation in Laravel, this is pretty easy. But, if you’re doing your validation in request classes, your approach needs to be different.
There’s a struggle to balance the easy-to-use Laravel helpers and functions with very verbose, complicated methods in unit tests. As I’ve been relying on Laravel’s way of doing testing more, I’ve ran into a couple of gotchas that I should share.
Laravel has a built in request helper called wantsJson() that determines if the request is requesting JSON with the Accept: application/json header. But, what if you want to only accept JSON responses? I set up a Laravel middleware that rejects anything that isn’t JSON.
By now, you’ve probably written many database migrations in Laravel. But, then something else happens. Perhaps your business model changed, your data attributes changed or you’re just refactoring to a stronger architecture. Doesn’t matter which, you’re going to need to convert and migrate some data.
When someone breaches the security of a web app, sometimes it’s not discovered to weeks or months later. There are a number of tools that specialize in intrusion detection, but they may be costly or difficult to set up. Another idea is to use a canary in the coal mine or a honey pot. Here we’ll talk about the concept and then demonstrate some easy and quick methods.
Laravel has a lot of the most common functionality built into the framework. However, decisions need to be made to balance the needs of the majority of use cases with the stability and agility that programmers need. No one really wants a bloated library. Because of this, you might find that you need functionality that is not directly built into Laravel. When I started working with Laravel-based CSV responses, this was the case. (This article is based on Laravel 5.6.)
For some API work in Laravel, I wanted to validate that the incoming request parameter was a boolean value. At first I tried using the built in boolean slug validator but it didn’t accept all of the ‘boolean’ values I wanted to use. (Also there were weird scenarios where string values of false were triggering as true - like what I wrote about here.
You can make use of guarded or fillable attributes in Eloquent models in Laravel to help control what values you might allow to be updated via your API. But, I wanted to go a step further and actually stop certain values from being passed in. You could go pretty wild with this and try to block everything, but that’s not what I did. I made this validator.
This isn’t a one-size-fits-all suggestion, but it’s a start to help you think about how you actually interact with factories in Laravel. They are used for test data, and are ran very often, multiple times in a row. You don’t need as much random information as you need. (In fact, a lot of times I see people overusing Faker even.)
For testing, I tend to use Postman - which gives you the option to view your API JSON responses in a preview mode (interactive), pretty and raw. But, the other day I heard someone saying sometimes they just want to invoke pretty print in their JSON responses without having to use an external tool and set up a whole environment.
In Laravel, the Support\Str class has a lot of useful methods for switching formats of strings between each other. I needed to take a hyphenated slug and change it to title case words. In Laravel land, I think this is referred to as “Studly” - because I found something very similar called Str::studly(). This converts underline or hyphenated words into a single string with capital letters. I wanted to not concatenate all of these.
It’s important to unit test your application code - even your console commands. So many times, I’ve seen people using the Artisan facade inside of console commands to either queue up new commands or call a different command. This makes it more difficult to unit test the application - you have to rely more on fakery (requiring you to reset your application each time then) and/or integration tests.
One thing I like about Laravel is the amount of built-in functionality that is available. But when this functionality is left in default configuration (much like many defaultconfiguration items getting hacked), there can be consequences.
In my Laravel application, I have an end point that will retrieve a collection of Client models. I have many other unit tests that validate that my repository returns the proper clients when requested, that my client model is sound. My last test is a feature test checks that if I retrieve a list of clients from the end point there is proper pagination and client models exist. I don’t really need to test the exact values because I know this will work - from all my other tests.
A nice feature of Laravel is the ability to add a listener to the DB object’s events (or SQL queries). I’ve seen some people add this, then comment it out when it’s done, then un-comment it if they need it again. I don’t like that - I don’t want commented code in my files (also that’s why we have version control).
A pet-peeve of mine is pagination that doesn’t work properly. One that I ran into lately with Laravel is related to the pagination system it has built in. I was able to request pages that were larger than the last page with no discernible error. So, I decided to write a middleware to handle this issue for all of my content.
Normally, when I write unit tests, I don’t use Laravel’s facade and fakery methods. I do a lot of injection of services, but in one particular case, when working with the Queue system, I had to use the facade for faking the queue and asserting some jobs were pushed.
If you’re not using Swagger (or OpenAPI) yet to document your APIs, you should start. It’s pretty simple to get started - especially in PHP. I recommend using the swagger-php package - it’s pretty easy. Just use annotations, and then generate the Swagger definition when you’re done.