Initial database creation and seeding with Laravel 5 (Build a forum part 1)

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tl;dr — Source code:

Thank you Jeffrey Way and Laracasts for this awesome series! The full video tutorials are available here:

We’re going to be using Laravel 5.4.

Create application:

$ laravel new laravel-forum
$ cd laravel-forum
$ composer install

Application Structure and Models

  1. Thread
  2. Reply
  3. User
     A. Thread is created by a user
     B. A reply belongs to a thread, and belongs to a user.

Next we have a command to make the Thread model with a migration and a resourceful controller. Laravel is bundled with a command line tool called Artisan that assists us in building our application.

$ php artisan make:model Thread -mr

Next update the migration for Thread (database/migrations/<timestamp>_create_threads_table.php):

public function up()
Schema::create(‘threads’, function (Blueprint $table) {

Next up we have to interact with MySQL. If you do not have MySQL installed and are on Mac, I wrote a tutorial available here:

If you have used Laravel before MySQL will be no sweat for you!

Log into MySQL:

$ mysql -uroot -p 

Run a SQL command to create the database we will specify in our environment file:

MySQL [(none)]> create database forum;
Query OK, 1 row affected (0.02 sec)

Close out of MySQL with Ctrl + C.

Create the file to store variable specific to your computer. This is covered in the .gitignore file, therefore will not be checked in to git version control.

$ touch .env

Copy and paste in the .env.example file to .env and edit this part:


Migrate the database using artisan.

$ php artisan migrate
Migration table created successfully.
Migrating: 2014_10_12_000000_create_users_table
Migrated: 2014_10_12_000000_create_users_table
Migrating: 2014_10_12_100000_create_password_resets_table
Migrated: 2014_10_12_100000_create_password_resets_table
Migrating: 2017_04_21_224745_create_threads_table
Migrated: 2017_04_21_224745_create_threads_table

Download Sequel Pro if you do not have it.

Connect to the database using their friendly GUI.

Use Sequel Pro to connect to MySQL in order to easily view database records.

Back in the terminal, make a model, migration and a controller for Reply. We went to have replies in our forum. (The -mc flag generates the migration and the controller for the Reply model.)

$ php artisan make:model Reply -mc

Update the generated migration file in database/migrations/<timestamp>_create_replies_table.php:

public function up()
Schema::create(‘replies’, function (Blueprint $table) {

Run migrations again.

$ php artisan migrate

In Sequel Pro click the refresh button (it is in bottom left corner)

Refresh button.

You will see a new Reply table.

The next part is by far the most complicated… seeding the database.

Seed the Database

Seeding the database means that we are going to generate and pre-populate data (such as Threads, Replies and Users) so our application is not empty and we have real records to play with.

We are going to generate mock data for Threads. If you remember, in the create_threads migration file we defined threads as having an id, user_id, title, body and timestamps.

We use the Faker PHP library to generate this fake data.

Head into database/factories/ModelFactory.php and add a factory definition for creating Threads. The file should look like this:

$factory->define(App\User::class, function (Faker\Generator $faker) {
static $password;
    return [
'name' => $faker->name,
'email' => $faker->unique()->safeEmail,
'password' => $password ?: $password = bcrypt('secret'),
'remember_token' => str_random(10),
$factory->define(App\Thread::class, function(Faker\Generator $faker){
return [
'user_id' => function(){
return factory('App\User')->create()->id;
'title' => $faker->sentence,
'body' => $faker->paragraph

In the above snippet is automatically loaded by Laravel. The first part creates some Users. In the second part, we define a new factory for creating Threads. Faker generates bodies and titles. For the user_id section it creates a new user, persists it to the database and then associates the id for that user with that Thread.

Use php artisan tinker and factories to generate the data

Back at the command line fire up the tinker command. After that we are going to make a new factory and create 50 threads with their associated users.

$ php artisan tinker
Psy Shell v0.8.3 (PHP 5.6.27 — cli) by Justin Hileman
>>> factory('App\Thread', 50)->create();
=> Illuminate\Database\Eloquent\Collection {#688
all: [
App\Thread {#686
user_id: 1,
title: "Mollitia qui quos nesciunt perferendis error quam quo.",
body: "Laborum rem sit reprehenderit voluptatem. Dolorem magnam possimus quod. Quam omnis architecto doloremque et non reiciendis et. Sit dolorum doloribus quo iure est molestiae at.",
updated_at: "2017-04-30 22:06:47",
created_at: "2017-04-30 22:06:47",
id: 1,

Hit refresh on Sequel Pro and you will see our generated records:

The generated Threads
The generated Users

Now our Threads and Users MySQL tables are full of data for us to use and play with! There are 50 random threads that are associated with fake Users.

Add Replies to the Threads

Create another Factory definition at the bottom of the database/factories/ModelFactory.php file.

$factory->define(App\Reply::class, function(Faker\Generator $faker){
return [
'thread_id' => function(){
return factory('App\Thread')->create()->id;
'user_id' => function(){
return factory('App\User')->create()->id;
'body' => $faker->paragraph

Refresh the database using Artisan. The below command will delete all of our data and run these commands again from scratch.

$ php artisan migrate:refresh
Rolling back: 2017_04_21_233654_create_replies_table
Rolled back:  2017_04_21_233654_create_replies_table
Rolling back: 2017_04_21_224745_create_threads_table
Rolled back:  2017_04_21_224745_create_threads_table
Rolling back: 2014_10_12_100000_create_password_resets_table
Rolled back:  2014_10_12_100000_create_password_resets_table
Rolling back: 2014_10_12_000000_create_users_table
Rolled back:  2014_10_12_000000_create_users_table
Migrating: 2014_10_12_000000_create_users_table
Migrated:  2014_10_12_000000_create_users_table
Migrating: 2014_10_12_100000_create_password_resets_table
Migrated:  2014_10_12_100000_create_password_resets_table
Migrating: 2017_04_21_224745_create_threads_table
Migrated:  2017_04_21_224745_create_threads_table
Migrating: 2017_04_21_233654_create_replies_table
Migrated:  2017_04_21_233654_create_replies_table

Here are the commands in tinker to generate our data from the Factory we wrote:

$ php artisan tinker
$threads = factory('App\Thread', 50)->create();
$threads->each(function($thread){ factory('App\Reply', 10)->create([ 'thread_id' => $thread->id ]); });

These commands will recreate our Threads as we did previously and then will generate 10 replies to each thread and associate the replies with the thread via the thread_id.

Ten Replies for each Thread. Each Reply has a value for thread_id

Further Reading on Database Seeding

Below are some further reading resources on seeding databases and Model Factories in Laravel 5.4.


In this post we have set up the database, viewed in in Sequel Pro and mocked out our data using Factories.

The full video is available on Laracasts:

Go sign up! Thanks for reading.

Tutorial Part 2 available here.

Update 1/23/18: Create database in Sequel Pro

Check out this article for creating a database using Sequel Pro instead of the command line. You connect to MySQL and then run a create database query. After the database is created running php artisan migrate will create the tables for your Laravel app.