Speed-up Laravel development

PHP has been the go-to choice for developing dynamic websites for over a decade. Although the ability to use JavaScript in the back-end with the introduction of Node.js has seen a significant decrease in PHP websites, it still powers over one-third of the websites currently running.

Last five years or so, PHP experienced a massive setback as websites become to be more obsolete and are gradually being replaced by web applications and PWAs. However, thanks to its most famous product, the open source WordPress CMS, PHP is still in use largely. The de-facto framework to develop PHP applications today is Laravel. It's an open source PHP framework developed by Taylor Otwell. Since its inception as a dynamic framework for PHP, Laravel is leading the PHP development scene on its own. Laravel is designed for building dynamic web apps by using the MVC (Model-View-Controller) model. It is a famous architecture for web apps which incorporates the principle of dividing codes based on their function. MVC web apps are typically faster to build and more comfortable to control. With its incorporation of the great Vue.js framework as the default front-end engine, Laravel is helping PHP to gain back the lost dominance amongst developers it once enjoyed. Vue.js is the most popular front-end framework today after it overtook Google's Angular and Facebook's React JS frameworks by highest numbers of Github starts. However, most new developers today need to think twice before choosing Laravel instead of popular JavaScript frameworks when developing their app. This is because using the Node.js runtime provides developers with a superior speed for their new apps. But, if appropriately incorporated and used high-level of optimization techniques, Laravel itself can outrun Node.js applications. Remember, Laravel utilizes the Object Oriented Method of programming equipped with core PHP. Although it lacks the asynchronous functions provided by Node.js, it has superior scalability options. With the right optimization tricks, you can effectively speed up your Laravel development process. Stay with us through this guide to learn how to use advanced optimization techniques to speed up your Laravel development.

Always Use the Stable Version

Frameworks like Laravel usually release a stable version alongside the latest release. You can think of the newest version as a beta release and suitable for exploring and playing around. On the other hand, the stable version is much more tested and secured version. Always use the stable version in development. It'll help you stay away from potential bugs that the latest release might have. The current stable release is Laravel 5.7.2, released just in September.

Use the Artisan Command Line Properly

Laravel comes packaged with its own custom command line utility known as Artisan. It is based on the popular Symfony console and provides a more natural control of the framework. Proper use of the artisan command line can boost up the overall development process and may help with task scheduling and triggering function calls. Make yourself comfortable with this command line interface in order to gain much superior control over the Framework. Using the artisan CLI is heavily recommended as a best practice within the Laravel community. You can even use the optimize command of the artisan interface to optimize all the autoloaders needed at startup and compile your views at the same time.

Config Caching

You can speed up your Laravel app by caching the configuration files. This will cache all of your config files into a single file and Laravel will be able to deliver them much quicker. You can cache the configuration files of the Bootstrap loading phase also. It will help you in limiting I/O requests. Caching these configs is a handy method to boost your app's performance.

Routes Caching

Caching your routes will make your application much faster while computing different routes. If your app has a lot of routes, it's best to cache them right from the development period. This will provide a much faster overall runtime of your application. When cached, Laravel serializes all the routes of your routes.php file into a single result. After this, every request to any route will be parsed from that result. So, when you cache the routes, what's essentially happening is that Laravel is precompiling all of your routes to be served whenever they're needed.

Cache Queries

Try to cache the results of different queries that are used regularly by your app. It's a common approach to improving Laravel app performance. The remember function could be utilized to cache these queries. When you cache your queries, Laravel essentially stores them in a serialized manner in the result object. Each time you call any of these queries within the next 60 minutes, your response will be served directly from that cache.

Remove Unused Services

A common mistake developers make while developing Laravel apps is by not removing unused services. As a full-fledged framework, Laravel loads a lot of Services during startup. Many of these are not needed by your app at all. Although these services are unused, they occupy memory and system resources. Utilizing these resources for the services that your app actually use can speed up your development process significantly. So, make sure to mark and remove any such unused services.

Optimizing the Classmap

Laravel has the habit of implementing too many "require" files at startup, many of them unnecessary for your application. Even a medium sized app may contain hundreds of such files. They can result in a significantly decreased speed for your app. A productive approach to solving this problem is creating a single file and declaring all the necessary files there. Then include that file on top of your code. Thus, a single file will be served for all include or require requests and the classmap of the program will be much smaller. You can use the optimize command of the artisan with the force parameter to achieve this.

Use Composer Effectively

Composer is a package manager for PHP. It aims at taking care of managing all those dependencies associated with your app. Effectively using composer for your app can lead to a much-reduced work hour spent behind managing these dependencies. Normally, you'd have to deal with any dependencies a package have before you can use them. Composer takes care of certain things like automatic searching and downloading of package dependencies. It also keeps all your packages updated all the time. So, you don't have to delete old packages and download their latest versions. You can also use composer to scan your application and create a one-to-one association between different classes and files that are needed by your app. This can save time when hunting for bugs and increase the overall speed of the app itself.

Store Relationships in Variables

Relationship calls require a large number of database calls. Having a lot of these calls in your application will lead to a large number of unnecessary calls, making your application slower in the process. Instead, you can store these relationship calls into a variable. Next time you need that call, simply use the variable. This will decrease your controller's interaction with the database significantly and will increase app speed.

Use JIT Compiler

PHP codes translate first into bytecode, then get executed. This process is resource intensive and is often attributed behind the slow performance of the language itself. C subroutines are often employed in a PHP app due to their fast speed and low-level interaction capabilities with the system. However, due to its nature of code execution, PHP programs always need a go-between like the Zend Engine to run these C subroutines. This process is repeated each time any C subroutine needs to be called. To reduce this time, you should always opt-in for a JIT (Just In Time) compiler. Facebook has a very good JIT compiler called HHVM, which is very suitable for developing Laravel apps.

Select a Fast Cache and Session driver

Storing the cache and session sections in the RAM will ensure the most optimal performance boost of your Laravel application. One of the best and fastest cache and session driver for Laravel is Memcached. It is a distributed general-purpose cache management system, which is employed to fasten up database-driven dynamic web applications. Memcached stores the cache and driver sessions in the system's memory,  thus reducing the number of calls made to external resources. It's licensed under the BSD license and open-sourced, making it most suitable for developing Laravel 5 apps.

Use Eager Loading with Eloquent

Laravel comes prepackaged with a great ORM (Object Relational Model) known as Eloquent for dealing with databases. Eloquent works by creating models that abstract database logic from the developers. You can create fast and efficient database systems by effectively using Eloquent. It utilizes a lazy loading mode by default. However, you can opt-in with the Eager Loading approach which will load every associated response for a searched term in a single result. This is an excellent approach to achieve a much more optimized database.

Use a CDN for Delivering Static Assets

Static assets are a crucial part for your app. How you approach, the delivery of these files has a significant effect on your application's performance. Loading static assets like files, images, and videos directly from the server can be cumbersome and may often lead to redundancies and decreased speed. However, you can deliver these assets from a CDN, a geographically distributed network of servers. This will, in turn, lead to a much faster loading time for your app.

Limit Included Libraries

Although a vast number of ready-made libraries are what gives Laravel much of its power, they can also become a trouble when you consider optimization. Including a lot of libraries in your app contributes to a much slower loading time. Before going into production, make sure to re-assess all the data and function calls used by your app and try to determine if you can sustain without a specific library. Remove as much of these libraries as you can to get a nicely tuned application.

Precompile Assets

Precompiling the assets required by your Laravel app can ensure a faster speed. Having all those different assets such as routes and configuration files into separate files may help during the development process, but it isn't necessary during production. You can use different Laravel artisan commands to precompile these assets into a single file. This will, in turn, offer a promoted speed of your application.

Laravel Migrations

If you've ever worked in a team, you know how much pain it is to control different versions of a database. Modification of the database by various team members can often lead to a sluggish and complicated code base. Laravel Migrations is a great way to contain this problem. It's like a version controlling mechanism for databases. It allows your team to modify and share the database schema of the app very easily. You will typically pair Migrations with Laravel’s schema builder to develop a fast database system for your application.

Effective Debugging

It does not matter in which platform you're building your app; chances are you'll have to deal with potential bugs at some point. Hunting down bugs easily can contribute to a much faster development period of your app. Although Laravel comes prepackaged with its own debugging component, we'll suggest you use a more dedicated debugging tool. Laravel Debugbar is an impressive package for this purpose. It provides a lot of essential information during debugging, which can help you with the optimization of the app itself. This package works by including a ServiceProvider to register the Debugbar package and then attach it to the output stream. You can use other popular debugger tools like Laravel Dusk, an automation tool suitable for testing browser applications and APIs. We've tried to outline all the best practices employed by our professional developers to help you optimize your Laravel app. We believe Laravel is capable of building awe-inspiring applications. You do not need to hesitate before choosing Laravel for your next app just because you think it'll be slow. With these proven tricks from our experts, you can optimize and tune your Laravel app just as you like it.

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