Why Businesses Choose Laravel: Interview with Taylor Otwell

David Emerson by David Emerson

Ask any Laravel developer what they love about Laravel, and they’ll rattle off a large number of technical benefits: It’s powerful, it’s elegant, it adheres to modern coding standards, it’s well documented, etc. However, as more and more companies – including major enterprises – are adopting Laravel for custom web application development, what are their business justifications for doing so? I met Laravel’s creator, Taylor Otwell, at Lone Star PHP 2016 last month and interviewed him to get his thoughts on the business reasons for Laravel adoption. This post is a partial transcript of our interview.

Q. First, a background question for you. What inspired you to create a brand new framework rather than contributing to an existing one?

A. There were things that frustrated me about other frameworks – for example, trying to code common features quickly like authentication were not simple to do in other frameworks. I also had trouble figuring out how to do things in other frameworks, and I wanted to be able to start new ideas quickly rather than spend a lot of time writing boilerplate code.

I came from the .NET world and was inspired by other languages like .NET (which has features like dependency injection in controllers, for example). It wasn’t easy for me to modify other frameworks to add these ideas, so starting another framework seemed like the easiest thing to do. I started Laravel mainly for myself, and then I wrote documentation and opened it up for other people to use it too.

Q. When you talk to companies that chose Laravel, what business reasons do they give you for their choice?

A. What I hear is that there are a lot of materials out there through which developers can learn to use the framework, including a large amount of learning resources from Laracast. This appeals to a lot of businesses because it noticeably decreases ramp-up time for new developers. This is one of the top reasons why companies find Laravel appealing.

Another reason that I often hear about is that everything from the Laravel syntax through to Laravel Homestead [a pre-packaged “box” that enables developers to easily install a development environment on their local machines] is structured in a well-thought out and comprehensive way. This means that companies who use Laravel don’t need to spend as much time researching best practises in developing and maintaining web applications, and making decisions on how to implement everything properly themselves.

Q. Out of the following five benefits, which do you think are most important to businesses? Fast development time; low server overhead; security; easy to learn; large and active developer community.

A. The importance of these benefits vary from company to company – but personally I feel that fast development time, easiness to learn, and large community are most likely to make Laravel appealing to many businesses. Security and low server overhead are important as well – and might be more important to some companies than others.

Q. Can you name additional reasons for why Laravel is beneficial to companies?

A. Laravel has a fast development cycle, and we can respond to change quickly. Just to name one example, we saw that people need to compile their LESS and JS so we came up with Elixir. Other frameworks and open source projects have so many cooks in the kitchen that it would take them a long time to tackle a problem like that. With Laravel we only have 2-3 people working on major feature releases, so we can roll out updates much faster.

Symfony [another PHP framework] is very committed to backwards compatibility. Like Symfony, Laravel also has six-month cycles, but we’re not afraid to make a few breaking changes here and there. Although some people may not feel comfortable with breaking changes, this enables us to provide better features and improvements more often – so I see this as a benefit compared to waiting every few years to get any sizeable improvement.

We include estimated upgrade times in all our upgrade guides. We try to keep upgrade times minimal – to a day or less for each six-month release (meaning two work days per year). I think this requires a very minimal business investment in return for having a quickly evolving feature set in the framework.

When I worked at a large company a long time ago, we wanted to use some open source code called knockout.js. The management asked a lot of questions about who can maintain it over time, and whether are other reputable companies using knockout.js. This was a company with 200-300 developers, and they seemed to always fear being the only ones using something. So, in my experience many businesses feel that their open source code should evolve and be well-maintained.


Final thoughts

Laravel is a great framework for developing scalable, secure and maintainable web applications. It offers a growing and vibrant developer community and plenty of educational resources and documentation. Contact us if you need a Laravel development company to develop, upgrade, support and maintain your web application.