Getting Started With Laravel 4

The Good

This book is aimed at newcomers to PHP development, and to Laravel 4 in particular. It doesn’t disappoint. It starts slow, talking about the need for, and role filled by frameworks. It explains what Composer does, and why it’s useful for frameworks like Laravel. It’s not the typical “Laravel needs Composer, here’s the code you use” stuff.

There are 40 pages of what is essentially a very gentle introduction, before you even start writing code. This is often a vital, missing part of introductory books, and it is refreshing to see Raphaël Saunier approach it delicately.

The book demonstrates how to build a simple application, introducing readers to the most basic usages of Eloquent, Schema Builder, Blade and the various other parts of the framework. None of it’s complicated. Yet it’s not just a rehash of the official docs, so there’s value to be had in coding alongside.

The remaining sections cover (albeit briefly) testing, building artisan commands, structuring more advanced applications and using the in-built helpers. If you are familiar with Laravel, then you “may want to consider acquiring a different book”. As I said, this book is aimed at newcomers. It may not be as comprehensive (or indeed as popular) as Code Bright, but it’s worth your time.

The Bad

I mentioned Code Bright, back there, because it is the definitive introduction to Laravel 4. Building on the success of Code Happy (the Laravel 3 iteration), Dayle has written a great book.

I was mildly surprised to find this book slight more expensive than Code Bright. At the current rate of exchange, it’s about 3 pounds more costly to buy this book than it is Code Bright. When you consider that this book is also teaching less, and just one of many Laravel 4 books currently vying for public attention, it’s difficult to tell where this book is likely to end up.

I want to tell you to buy it, and if you can get it for cheaper (though the price tag I was comparing was directly from Packt) then it might not be a bad deal. If you need to choose between the two, I suggest you first consider Code Bright before this book. I mean no disrespect to Raphaël. Code Bright is just a better deal.


Mattaugamer (over at Reddit) suggested I ask the following questions of the book:

  1. Are there areas that it needs to do better?
    It could be priced better. Volume of content vs. pricing (especially when compared with books aimed at the same audience) is not the best.
  2. Does it have a lot of information about concrete implementations?
    It has one main project, which spans a few chapters. It’s not a cookbook, but it’s slightly better glued together than the official docs.
  3. Does it cover all aspects of Laravel usage?
    No. And there’s no way it could without increasing the page count, or being silly.
  4. What’s its writing style like?
    Raphaël’s writing style is neither technical nor jovial. You won’t laugh as much as when reading other, similar books. You won’t get lost either.
  5. Is the book actually finished?
    It’s finished, as far as I can tell.
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