How I Met Laravel

Laravel - the PHP framework for artisans.It was February 2nd, and I was heading to a Super Bowl/birthday party. I had quit my job only a month before to work full-time on my startup, SimpliFit (then called TrackFaster) and was coding the hobbled-together backend in PHP for our third Alpha version (more on Alpha v0.3 and lessons learned from that some other time).

At the party, a mutual friend introduced me to Jonathan Stassen, and I gave him the usual pitch. He just so happened to also be working at a startup and was learning a PHP framework called Laravel.

After a later than expected birthday dinner at a Chinese restaurant, the party headed back to watch the game on the DVR. Just a quick side note, the 30 second jump forward button is perfect right after a play finishes – you almost always end up at the beginning of the next play. The first half of the game flew by using this tactic, until we caught up with real time.

Anyway, back to Laravel. Once we were all situated in front of the TV, Jonathan and I kept chatting, and eventually he pulled out his laptop to show me some Laravel code. To be honest, a lot of what I learned that day went over my head, but I made a mental note to look into Laravel post-Alpha.

Fast-forward to May and myself and my two co-founders are in the midst of planning the scope of our Beta (capturing user needs, modeling use cases, etc.). For the backend programming, I came up with three solutions: learn Ruby and Rails from scratch, learn Python and Django from scratch, or use the PHP programming knowledge I already had and learn Laravel. With our tight timelines, Laravel was the logical choice.

Having never coded in an MVC framework before, Laravel was a bit overwhelming at first. Thanks to the great videos at Laracasts, some visits to the Laravel IRC chat, and many conversations with Jonathan, today I’ve somehow ended up with a backend API for our mobile app in Laravel (and it works, too!).

Over the next few weeks, as we get closer to public beta launch, I’ll be posting about how I’m using Laravel as an API backend, how to get Laravel running on AWS Elastic Beanstalk, and various other lessons I’ve learned along the way.

Update 8/18/2014: If you need additional Laravel resources, I would also recommend Laravel Code Bright by Dayle Rees (where you can find snippets from his ebook) and Phillip Brown’s ongoing series of building a social application with Laravel (first post is Getting Started with Laravel 4).

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