In the ever-evolving landscape of web development using Laravel, one question looms large for everyone: Should you update your Laravel application to the latest version? As the PHP framework continues to improve and new releases bring a host of enticing features, many find themselves at a crossroads, torn between the comfort of their current setup and the promise of innovation.
We at Mallow, as a seasoned custom software development company, possess experience and expertise that positions us to tackle the question of whether you should upgrade your Laravel application to the latest version. Through hundreds of bespoke software projects over the years, we’ve seen firsthand Laravel’s evolution. We’ve seen both the benefits and challenges that arise when transitioning from one version to another, and can help you make this crucial decision.
After going through this article, you will gain invaluable insights into the complex decision-making process surrounding Laravel updates. You will emerge with a thorough understanding of the benefits of keeping your applications current, including access to cutting-edge features, enhanced security, and improved performance. You will also be well-versed in the potential challenges and considerations that accompany the upgrade journey.
When should you consider upgrading your Laravel application to the latest version?
- Your application’s security needs to be updated
- Regularly updating your Laravel application is crucial for staying protected against emerging security threats.
- Laravel updates often include patches and security enhancements to address vulnerabilities, reducing the risk of security breaches.
- Your application is lacking the new feature enhancements
- Upgrading to the latest Laravel version grants access to new features, improvements, and tools.
- These enhancements can streamline development and keep your application competitive in the market.
- Your application has compatibility issues
- As the PHP language and its ecosystem evolve, keeping your Laravel application up to date ensures compatibility with the latest PHP versions and third-party libraries.
- This prevents compatibility issues that can arise from using outdated software.
- You want to avoid technical debts
- Delaying upgrades may lead to accumulating technical debt, making future upgrades more complex and time-consuming.
- Regular, smaller updates are generally more manageable and require fewer resources than major, delayed upgrades.
- You want your business to avail the advantages from the recent release
- The latest Laravel version often includes performance optimisations and improvements, resulting in faster response times and better scalability.
- Each Laravel release introduces new features and enhancements that can improve user experiences, streamline development, and add functionality to your application.
- An up-to-date application is easier to maintain, as you’ll face fewer compatibility issues and have access to modern development tools. By upgrading regularly, you future-proof your application, making it easier to adapt to changing requirements and technologies.
- Upgrading to the latest version of your Laravel application can introduce new dimensions to your business by enabling the integration of cutting-edge features and technologies. The new features and improvements in the latest version can serve as a catalyst for innovation and help your business explore uncharted territories, ultimately leading to business growth and a broader customer base.
- Maintaining your application up to date not only ensures its optimal performance but also significantly reduces the turnaround time for subsequent development phases.
- You want your application to remain compliant
- Depending on your industry, adhering to certain regulations and compliance standards may be mandatory.
- Updating your Laravel application can ensure you meet these requirements, avoiding potential legal issues.
When might it not be necessary to upgrade versions of your Laravel application?
- Your system is already stable and secure
- If your current Laravel version is stable, well-maintained, and secure, and you haven’t experienced security issues, you might consider postponing the upgrade.
- However, it’s important to keep monitoring security advisories to ensure your version remains secure.
- You have limited resources
- If your team has limited resources, both in terms of time and expertise, upgrading to a new Laravel version can be resource-intensive.
- In such cases, it might be more practical to delay the upgrade until you have the necessary resources available.
Please note that delaying the update of your Laravel application’s version due to resource unavailability is only advisable in cases, provided there are no issues with security, performance, or other critical factors.
- Your application has complexities and dependencies
- If your Laravel application has complex dependencies, custom packages, or integrations that are not yet compatible with the latest Laravel version, postponing the upgrade might be necessary.
- Upgrading may require substantial work to ensure everything functions smoothly.
- You have other business priorities
- Sometimes, critical business initiatives or projects take precedence over software upgrades.
- If upgrading would disrupt essential business activities, it may be advisable to postpone until a more suitable time.
What is the latest Laravel version? Introducing Laravel 10.
Laravel 10, the most recent release as of February 7, 2023, introduces a slew of enhancements that bolster the performance, security, and functionalities to enhance the efficiency of the application development process applications. Prior to Laravel 9, the framework adhered to a biannual release schedule. However, starting with Laravel 9, the creators opted for an annual release cadence. Notably, Laravel 9 was launched on February 8, 2022, and precisely one year later, Laravel 10 made its debut.
Key highlights of Laravel 10
Some notable highlights of Laravel 10 include:
- Introducing Laravel Pennant
- Laravel Pennant is a new lightweight package designed to simplify the process of rolling out new features in your Laravel application.
- It provides tools and utilities to manage feature flags and toggle features on or off without deploying new code.
- This package can be beneficial in A/B testing, gradual feature rollouts, and managing feature availability.
- Improved process interaction
- A sleek abstraction layer is introduced to streamline the initiation and interaction with external processes. This enhancement is embodied in the newly introduced Process facade, which simplifies the task of launching and managing external processes.
- What’s more, this version takes it a step further by enabling the execution of processes in pools, facilitating the seamless and efficient handling of multiple concurrent processes. This enhancement marks a significant improvement in the framework’s capabilities, making it even more convenient for developers to work with external processes and manage them effectively.
- New Validation Rule from Artisan
- Artisan, the command-line tool in Laravel, now offers new validation rules that can be used to validate user input and data.
- These rules are designed to simplify data validation, ensuring that your application processes user inputs correctly and securely.
- Pest Scaffolding
- Pest is a modern and user-friendly testing framework for PHP. It’s designed to make writing and running tests more intuitive and developer-friendly compared to PHPUnit, another popular PHP testing framework.
- Starting with the latest Laravel update, new projects can now incorporate Pest test scaffolding right from the beginning. This exciting feature is available by default, allowing developers to embrace the simplicity and power of Pest for testing.
- Native code type application skeleton
- Laravel 10 introduces an application skeleton with native code types, aligning with modern PHP practices.
- This can make your codebase more consistent, easier to read, and improve type hinting, which is beneficial for static analysis and IDE support.
- CLI Prompts
Laravel has introduced a new feature in its built-in “make” commands, eliminating the need for immediate user input. This enhancement aims to enhance the overall development experience within the framework. Now, when these commands are executed without providing initial inputs, Laravel will automatically prompt users to enter the required arguments.
- Test Profiling
In Laravel 10 upgrade, a notable addition to the Artisan command is the new –profile option for the “test” command. This feature simplifies the process of identifying the slowest tests within your application. With this enhancement, developers can now efficiently pinpoint and address performance bottlenecks in their test suite. The –profile option offers a valuable tool to maintain and optimise the test suite, ensuring that tests run quickly and effectively.
Laravel 10 has dropped support for 8.0x
Laravel 10 marks a significant milestone in the framework’s evolution, but it also comes with a notable change in terms of version support. With this release, Laravel has officially dropped support for Laravel 8.0, requiring a minimum PHP version of 8.1 to run effectively. This decision reflects Laravel’s commitment to staying at the forefront of modern web development practices and harnessing the latest capabilities of PHP.
This isn’t a new trend; Laravel has consistently strived to keep its applications updated with the latest features and enhancements. This approach has been followed in previous version releases as well, where older versions are phased out to make room for more advanced and efficient technologies, ensuring that Laravel applications remain at the forefront of web development. Laravel’s commitment to using up-to-date PHP versions is a testament to its commitment to performance, security, and innovation.
How to upgrade your Laravel application to the latest version.
In this initial stage, you’ll focus on the necessary preparations to facilitate a smooth upgrade. Start by carefully reviewing the Laravel documentation to understand the changes and new features in the latest version. Then, make sure your application adheres to best practices and coding standards, addressing any deprecations and incompatibilities that might arise with the update. After preparing your application, the next step is to thoroughly test and deploy the upgrade.
Create a testing environment that mirrors your production setup as closely as possible. Run comprehensive tests, including unit, integration, and end-to-end testing, to ensure the updated application functions correctly and that there are no regression issues. This phase allows you to identify and address any unforeseen problems that might have arisen during the upgrade.
Prepare your application for the update
Upgrading a Laravel application can be approached in two main ways: manually or through automation tools like Laravel Shift. The manual approach involves identifying and resolving compatibility issues, adjusting deprecated code, and carefully updating dependencies step by step. While this method provides a deep understanding of the changes in the codebase, it’s time-consuming.
On the other hand, an automated approach, such as using Laravel Shift, significantly streamlines the upgrade process. Shift automates the detection and correction of deprecated or incompatible code, making it faster and less error-prone. It also keeps up with best practices and Laravel’s evolving standards, ensuring a smoother transition to the latest version. While manual upgrades may be necessary for highly customised applications, automated tools like Laravel Shift are invaluable for quickly and efficiently keeping applications up-to-date, minimising development effort and reducing the risk of issues in the upgraded codebase.
How to update the Laravel application using Laravel Shift?
- Step 1 – Visit the Laravel Shift website (https://laravelshift.com/) and sign up for an account if you haven’t already. Choose the Laravel Shift plan that corresponds to your current Laravel version and the version you want to upgrade to. You’ll need to purchase a plan for each version you’re upgrading through. Please note that jumping from Laravel 6.x directly to Laravel 10.x is not possible. You need to follow a phased approach, upgrading first from 6.x to 7.x, and then from 7.x to 8.x and so on. This stepwise transition ensures a smoother and more manageable upgrade process, allowing you to address compatibility concerns.
- Step 2 – After purchasing, you’ll receive an email with instructions on how to access it. You can also access your Shift from your Laravel Shift dashboard. Follow the on-screen instructions to configure your Shift. You’ll need to provide access to your Git repository where your Laravel application is hosted. Laravel Shift will change your codebase, so granting access is necessary. Before updating your Laravel application’s version using Laravel Shift, it’s essential to ensure that the branch, which will undergo the update, is in a stable and working state. This preparation guarantees a smooth and successful transition to the latest Laravel version, reducing the likelihood of compatibility issues and unexpected errors.
- Step 3 – Once configured, initiate the Shift. Laravel Shift will analyse your application, identify upgrade tasks, and generate a pull request with the necessary code changes. Laravel Shift will create a pull request in your Git repository. Review the changes carefully to ensure they align with your application’s requirements and functionality.
- Step 4 – After merging the pull request, test your Laravel application to ensure that it functions as expected with the new Laravel version. If you encounter issues during testing, use Laravel’s error messages, log files, and debugging tools to identify and resolve problems. Consult Laravel Shift’s documentation and support resources for assistance with any Shift-specific issues.
How to update your Laravel application manually?
Upgrading your Laravel application to the latest version involves several steps to ensure a smooth transition. Here’s a general guide on how to upgrade your Laravel application:
- Step 1 – Start by checking the official Laravel documentation for the latest version. It provides detailed release notes and upgrade guides specific to each release. Before making any changes, back up your entire application, including the database, codebase, and configuration files. This ensures you can restore your application if anything goes wrong during the upgrade process.
- Step 2 – In your project directory, open the terminal/command prompt and run composer update to update your project’s dependencies, including Laravel. In your composer.json file, update the Laravel version to the latest one in the “require” section. After making this change, run composer update again to update to the specified Laravel version.
- Step 3 – Check your application’s configuration files in the config/ directory for any changes or additions specific to the new Laravel version. Update your own configuration settings as necessary. Ensure that any third-party packages and dependencies used in your application are compatible with the new Laravel version. Consult their documentation or repositories for information on compatibility. Review your application’s codebase for any deprecated or removed features, methods, or functions. Laravel’s release notes will highlight these changes. Modify your code to align with the latest Laravel conventions and practices.
- Step 4 – Check your database migrations and seeders for compatibility with the new Laravel version. Run php artisan migrate and php artisan db:seed to apply any necessary database updates. After making codebase and configuration updates, thoroughly test your application to ensure it functions correctly. Pay close attention to any features or functionality that might be affected by the upgrade. If you encounter issues during testing, use Laravel’s error messages, log files, and debugging tools to identify and resolve problems. Utilise resources like Laravel’s GitHub repository, forums, and community support for assistance.
Check out this guide from Laravel for detailed insights to upgrade your application to the latest version.
Testing and Deployment
- Step 1 – After updating your Laravel application with Laravel Shift, it’s crucial to run unit tests to ensure that the core functionality of your application remains intact. Unit tests validate individual components, functions, and classes to identify any regressions or issues introduced during the upgrade. This step helps maintain code quality, as it catches errors early in the development cycle, enabling prompt bug fixes and ensuring the stability of your application.
- Step 2 – While automated testing, including unit tests, plays a significant role, manual testing is equally essential. It involves systematically exploring your application to verify that all features, user interfaces, and functionalities work as expected. During manual testing, you can perform end-to-end testing, assess the user experience, and identify any edge cases or issues that automated tests might miss. This step ensures that your application is not only technically sound but also provides a seamless and user-friendly experience.
- Step 3 – Once your Laravel application passes both unit tests and manual testing, it’s time to deploy the updated version to your production environment. Deployment involves updating the configurations based on the latest version and moving the latest code, making the updated application accessible to users. It’s crucial to follow best practices for deployment to minimise downtime, ensure data integrity, and maintain a smooth transition. Additionally, consider setting up monitoring and backups to respond quickly to any issues that may arise post-deployment, ensuring a reliable and responsive application for your users.
Want to know more details about Laravel shift? Check out this FAQ section from Laravel shift for detailed insights.
Maintaining high code quality of your Laravel application
By now, you should understand the latest enhancements introduced in the recent Laravel upgrade and how they can benefit your projects. It’s essential to emphasise the importance of maintaining top-notch code quality in your application. These upgrades not only enhance the functionality and capabilities of your software but also streamline the development process. Hence, it’s vital to prioritise clean and well-structured code to ensure your application’s long-term performance, security, and scalability, aligning with the latest Laravel features.
Maintaining high code quality in a Laravel application is crucial for several reasons. First and foremost, it directly impacts the application’s reliability and stability. Well-structured and clean code is less prone to bugs and errors, making it easier to maintain and update over time. High code quality also enhances collaboration among development teams, as clean and well-documented code is more understandable and shareable. Moreover, it helps in scaling the application efficiently as a solid codebase is easier to extend and adapt to changing requirements. It also reduces technical debt, saving time and resources in the long run. Check out this article on validating your Laravel application’s code quality for detailed insights.
Still unsure about your next step? Feel free to reach out to our team.