Laracon is an ongoing series of conferences and events about the Laravel software development framework. We use Laravel pretty heavily at Icehouse Ventures because it powers our Investor Portal. I’ve learned a lot over the years from the various Laracon conference recordings. The topics range from basic coding best-practises to advanced systems architecture, database design, all the way through to user interface design. The talks I get the most out of switch between broad theoretical best practises but then back it up with practical live coding examples. I’ve made a list with a few of my favs and some notes on how they influenced view of what’s possible with Laravel…
SOLID Design Principles
This talk with Katerina Trajcevska covers the basics of the SOLID coding principles. SOLID is short for:
- Single responsibility principle,
- Open-closed principle,
- Liskov substitution principle,
- Interface segregation principle, and
- Dependency inversion principle.
The SOLID jargon can seem heavy at first, but it actually fits nicely into good Laravel coding practises and Katerina lays things out simply and clearly.
Curing the Common Loop
This talk probably changed my approach to coding more than any other talk. The idea of using chained functions, scopes and collections aren’t that revolutionary by themselves, but seeing Adam collapse whole pages of complex nested code into a single line is just magical. The elegance, power and simplicity of Laravel collections when they’re used properly blew my mind.
CRUDDY by design
Another mind-bending talk from Adam Wathan. CRUD is short for:
I do not necessarily agree with everything this talk, but the mental exercise of trying to see everything in a modern web application as a CRUD operation is a matrix shifting moment of clarity. We now heavily use Laravel’s built in “Resource Pattern” to link models, views and controllers into common CRUD functions.
Eloquent Performance Patterns
Eloquent is the data modelling ORM (Object Relational Mapping) tool built into Laravel. It’s an amazing tool, but Jonathan comes from a ‘bare metal’ background and like me, learned MySQL years before he learned to code in a modern framework. As such, he thinks in raw database queries. Laravel’s ‘Query Builder’ is the database layer that gets things from the database before passing them to Eloquent (to wrap the richness around). This talk is all about speeding up Eloquent by doing more in the database.
Laravel Performance Optimisation
Kasia Zien takes a pretty detailed and hard-core approach to performance optimisation, but it’s eye opening to see her logic for how to squeeze the best performance out of Laravel.
Software Design Patterns in Laravel
“Design Patterns” are best-practises or standard approaches to common problems in programming. Not every design pattern is a good habit (the repository pattern can over-complicate a project fast). But when used carefully, the various software design patterns make for better and more consistent code. We use the Presenter Pattern at Icehouse Ventures to tidy up data before sending it to our Vue JS front-end.
The Laravel Way
Jeffrey Way is one of the original gangsters in the Laravel community. As an OG, he’s been working with Laravel so long that he’s drawn out the broader mindset of what I think of as the “Laravel Way”.
Chasing Perfect Code
Yet another Adam Wathan talk, but honestly every one is a level-up in terms of how I write code. Adam goes through ‘code smells’ and things to tidy up. Things like nested-conditionals may technically work in a solo project or a university code exam, but in the real world our code needs to be read by other developers or by your future self. This presentation taught me to make my future self’s life easier with code that is simple, readable and clear.
One of the things I love most about Laracon is being exposed to more advanced topics in software engineering that I might not have otherwise discovered. For example:
- Database Indexing – The art of indexing a database is kind of obscure, but the pursuit of fast queries and ‘groking’ database indexing stretched my mind and reminded me how much I love MySQL.
- Denormalisation with Eloquent – The Icehouse Ventures investor portal calculates pretty advanced ‘professional investor grade’ maths and charts like IRR, TV/PI and other venture capital finance metrics. Many of those are too complex to run on the fly so we tried caching them. But with thousands of investors and hundreds of metrics our cache became a mess. Database normalisation saved us but also forced me to learn about cache warming and cache invalidation. This is the Laracon talk I wish I has watched before we built our Entity Stats table by hand.
- Resisting Complexity – When I dive into the Laravel core code (the stuff we’re not really supposed to see and can’t edit) I’m always surprised by how small each function is. Each function does one thing, then passes it onto the next atomic unit. At first it seems wasteful, but Adam walks us through how breaking big functions into small ones makes them cleaner, clearer, more re-usable and more testable.
- Clean Code – Uncle Bob invented the SOLID principals and is a legend in software development. Not Laravel specific, but a great reminder of the wider context of why clean code matters.
- Design Patterns that pay off – Matt Stauffer lays out some advanced design patterns and boils them down into simple good habits for good code.
I’ve saved all these Laracon presentations as a YouTube playlist so it’s easy to find them, play them and refer back to them in the future: Laracon YouTube Playlist