What’s new in Laravel 11

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Laravel is a leading PHP framework renowned for its elegant syntax, powerful features, and developer-friendly tools. Its architecture supports effective PHP web development, helping you build scalable and maintainable applications.

At Kinsta, we’re committed to staying ahead of the curve and embracing the latest technologies. And having ample experience with Laravel applications, we’re excited about the advancements included in its latest release.

Laravel 11 introduces several transformative features that boost developer productivity and enhance application performance. From streamlined configuration and debugging to improved flexibility, this version improves development efficiency and helps you build more robust applications. Let’s dive in!

The revamped directory structure in Laravel 11

Laravel 11 includes a redesigned directory structure that enhances development efficiency. This change simplifies the organization of project files and pares down the boilerplate code included in previous Laravel versions.

Removing certain directories, like app/Exceptions and app/Http/Middleware, makes the Laravel 11 structure cleaner than previous versions. For example, earlier versions include nine middleware, many of which you’re unlikely to customize. Eliminating this directory minimizes code bulkiness and lets you focus on the essential aspects of your codebase. And if it’s necessary to customize middleware, you can do so via App/ServiceProvider.

Laravel 11 also removes the config folder, changing how you manage configurations. We’ll return to this change in a later section.

Advantages of Laravel’s new directory structure include:

  • Code reusability — With less boilerplate code, you can focus on creating modular and reusable components. This ability to reuse common functionalities across the application promotes a more efficient development process.
  • Improved knowledge sharing — A less complex directory structure facilitates knowledge sharing among team members and people onboarding the technology. Simpler navigation of the product structure makes collaboration smoother and more effective.
  • Reduced coding time — Eliminating unnecessary directories and files means developers spend less time working with unnecessary boilerplate code. Faster coding, debugging, and testing lead to enhanced productivity.

A streamlined directory structure offers a refined development process and enables faster implementation of features and functionalities.

Enhanced flexibility with model casts

Laravel 11 is transitioning to method-based model casts, changing how you handle attributes within a Laravel Eloquent model — a representation of a database table acting as the intermediary for interactions with that table.

In older versions of Laravel, you defined attributes using a properties array. With Laravel 11, you specify model casts in a method aptly named casts().

This transition to method-based model casts offers several advantages similar to those of code methods or functions. One of the most significant benefits is code reusability. Including casting logic within methods makes your code more modular and reusable. And because the casts() method delineates attribute casting, your code becomes more readable and maintainable.

It’s also important to note that Laravel 11 ensures backward compatibility with previous versions. Consequently, you can seamlessly transition your existing codebases to use Laravel 11’s updated model casting approach. This compatibility makes adopting Laravel 11 a smooth process — especially if you’re already familiar with its earlier iterations.

Simplified configuration

As mentioned earlier, Laravel 11 brings a shift in configuration management. It consolidates configuration settings into a single source: the .env file. This is a notable departure from previous Laravel versions, which spread configurations across multiple files.

Placing configurations solely in the .env file substantially improves organization. It also simplifies the development workflow, making it more intuitive and efficient.

Another important configuration-related update is the cascade feature, with which you can fine-tune your configurations by removing unnecessary options you don’t want to customize. The result is more compact development.

The single .env file eliminates the need for multiple files, instead storing all the relevant configurations in one place. However, if you happen to feel that the .env file is getting too big, you can use a command to return the configuration file to the config directory. For example, php artisan config:publish auth generates the auth.php file in the config directory.

The ability to retrieve specific configurations is a massive boon to organizations.

Refined debugging experience with the new Dumpable trait

The Dumpable trait is a valuable addition to Laravel 11. It lets you use familiar debugging aids within the classes, including the dd() and dump() methods. These methods are instrumental during debugging as they provide real-time insights about a target object or variable.

Note that the Dumpable trait is likely to replace the existing dd and dump methods in a myriad of Laravel’s core classes, ensuring a consistent and cohesive debugging experience across the framework.