What's New in Laravel 8

What's New in Laravel 8

What's New in Laravel 8, you’ll see all the new features and changes released in Laravel 8. I’ll show you how to add authentication to your Laravel 8 application using Okta.

Laravel 8 is here! Take a look at what's new and how to quickly add authentication to your apps

With Laravel 8’s release in September 2020, the popular PHP framework continues to offer new features and improvements. After version 5, Laravel moved to semantic versioning and the more frequent releases have meant smaller changes between each one. That said, there are still several exciting updates in this version of the framework.

While Laravel will continue to offer security fixes for version 7 until early 2021, no more bug fixes will be released after October 2020, so you should upgrade to Laravel 8 as soon as possible. In this article, you’ll see all the new features and changes released in Laravel 8. After going through the new features, I’ll show you how to add authentication to your Laravel 8 application using Okta.

Jetstream

The biggest new feature available in Laravel 8 is an application scaffolding tool called Jetstream. Long-time Laravel users are probably familiar with Laravel Spark, which adds authentication, billing, teams, and improved security options to Laravel for a small fee. Jetstream now offers almost all of Spark’s features (without the billing) for free.

While Jetstream won’t help you much if you’re upgrading an existing Laravel app, as you’ve probably already built the features you need, it will accelerate the process of building new applications. Developers who take advantage of Jetstream’s features won’t have to build user profiles, change password flows, API token generation, or team account creation from scratch. You can also integrate Jetstream into third-party authentication providers like Okta using its various authentication hooks.

That said, Jetstream isn’t going to be right for everyone. It’s opinionated so, while it gives you two options for scaffolding your frontend code (Livewire or Inertia.js), you won’t get much out of it if you’re already committed to another popular frontend framework like React or Angular. Jetstream also relies on Tailwind UI, so users of Bootstrap or other styling libraries will have a lot of work to customize all the CSS elements.

Depending on your application workflow and priorities, Jetstream could save you a ton of time. You can also publish the package’s files and edit them, so it’s possible to customize everything it does to suit your needs.

Migration Schema Dumps

If you’ve worked on a Laravel application for a long time, you might have dozens or hundreds of database migration files in your project. Typically, you’ll only run the newest ones each time but, when a new developer joins your team or you want to refresh your database tables, you’ll have to run all those migrations in sequence again.

Laravel 8’s new schema:dump command fixes this problem. After you run the Artisan command, your existing migrations will be “squashed” and saved to a single SQL file. You can opt to set the --prune flag, which will also remove the original migration files from your project. Next time you run all your migrations, Laravel will just run the SQL file, followed by any newer migrations you’ve added since the squash.

To see the schema dump in action, create a new Laravel 8 project and connect a MySQL or Postgres database. Laravel comes with a few default migrations, so once you configure your database, you can run the following:

php artisan schema:dump --prune

You’ll see that Laravel has deleted your migrations in the ./database/migrations directory and created a single SQL file in the ./database/schema directory. Now, you can run all your migrations again, and Laravel will use the SQL file:

php artisan migrate:fresh

Note that Laravel 8’s migration schema dumps only work when using a SQL-based database like MySQL or PostgreSQL. NoSQL databases like MongoDB can’t use this feature, and it doesn’t work for SQLite yet either.

Class-based Factories

Laravel has removed model factory functions in favor of class-based model factories. This means that you can create an instance of a model for testing or seeding purposes using the new factory() method. For example, the following code will create five users and save them to your database:

User::factory()->count(5)->create();

Faker is always available to factory classes, so it’s really easy to generate nice-looking test data. If you need legacy support for factory functions, Laravel released a package that you can use to maintain the old method until you upgrade your code.

Rate Limiting Improvements

Before Laravel 8, the best way to add rate-limiting to your application was to use the throttle middleware. You could customize this middleware by extending it or creating your own class, but it wasn’t easy to do.

In version 8, Laravel added a new method to the RouteServiceProvider called configureRateLimiting(). Here you can use Laravel’s new RateLimiter facade to implement custom logic around rate limiting. For example, you could allow admins to make unlimited API requests while other users are limited to 60 requests per minute:

...
    protected function configureRateLimiting()
    {
        RateLimiter::for('api', function (Request $request) {
            return $request->user()->isAdmin() ? 
                Limit::none() :
                Limit::perMinute(60);
        });
    }
...

Complex logic around rate limits can be compelling for API-based Laravel applications.

Improved Maintenance Mode Options

Developers typically put their Laravel apps into maintenance mode while running tasks like upgrading Composer packages or database migrations. In previous versions of Laravel, developers could use their IP address to bypass maintenance mode, but in Laravel 8, this method has been replaced with URL-based tokens.

For example, put your application into maintenance mode using the following command:

php artisan down --secret="12345"

Users won’t be able to access the application unless they navigate to <YOUR_APP_URL>/12345. If they do this, they can bypass maintenance mode and see the application. This allows you to share a link with other developers or stakeholders who might need to bypass maintenance mode.

Another problem with maintenance mode in previous versions of Laravel was that it depended on Laravel being in a working state. In other words, if your composer install command broke your Laravel installation, the maintenance page would be broken too.

To get around this, Laravel 8 added an option to prerender a specific view that users will see while your app is in maintenance mode. For example, if you want to show the default Laravel 503 error page during maintenance mode, you can run the following:

php artisan down --render="errors::503"

503 Service Unavailable

This feature ensures that maintenance mode is more robust. While you don’t want to spend too much time in maintenance mode, you want it to work.

Time Traveling Tests

Testing time-based code is always tricky. Applications that rely on time differences relative to now() will have difficulty testing their logic. Fortunately, Laravel 8 includes a new time manipulation feature that allows you to change the application’s perceived time during testing.

For example, you might have a method on your User model that returns true when a user’s account is more than 90 days old:

...
    public function isExperienced()
    {
        return $this->created_at < Carbon::now()->subDays(90);
    }
...

To test this, you can write a test that uses the travel() method:

...
    public function testUserIsExperienced()
    {
        $user = User::inRandomOrder()->first();

        $this->travel(91)->days();
        $this->assertTrue($user->isExperienced());

        $this->travelBack();
        $this->assertFalse($user->isExperienced());
    }
...

This feature dramatically improves your ability to test time-based code and catch edge cases.

Other Improvements

In addition to the significant new features outlined above, Laravel 8 also includes many relatively small improvements you can read more about in the version 8 release notes. For example:

  • Laravel now puts models into a new directory (called Models) by default.
  • Tailwind is being used for more of Laravel’s default styling, including pagination.
  • You can now batch background jobs using the Bus::batch() method.
  • The php artisan serve command now reloads your app whenever you update your .env file.
  • Event listening closures can now be run in the background using the queueable() function.

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