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Introduction to Laravel Nova

July 26, 2018

Taylor Otwell, the creator of the Laravel PHP Framework hosts multiple Laravel Conferences each year, one in the US, one in the EU and one entirely hosted online. These are referred to as “Laracon”‘s.

At these conferences often new features are debuted into the Laravel PHP Framework and new Laravel “First Party Products” are often introduced by Taylor himself. At Laracon a few years back Taylor debuted Laravel Forge, which is a tool for server administration that we heavily rely on here. Envoyer, the tool we use for Zero Downtime Deployments was also debuted at Laracon.

It was Laracon US yesterday (July 25th), and I stayed up quite late to watch Taylor’s talk (which started at 11:30 pm) and so I’m bleary-eyed today and not quite as bushy-tailed as usual!

The main thing I was interested in from Taylor’s talk was a new tool he’s been hyping up for weeks now, called Laravel Nova.

What is Laravel Nova?

Laravel Nova is an Administration Panel built by the creator of Laravel. It looks to me to be the first step on the path to a wholly “First Party” Laravel CMS.

Nova introduces an advanced administration panel which is essentially plug and play. This means we can add it retroactively to any Laravel application which is already built, and it does everything that you’d expect of an Administration Panel, it runs Create, Read, Update and Delete (CRUD) operations for all of your content types

Notable Features

The website for Nova boasts that it’s simple to configure with PHP code, it doesn’t touch your application’s database or code at all and is meant to be a drop in replacement for any current administration panel. Nova also seems to have baked in support for things like Custom Fields, which could make it a potential contender against the likes of WordPress’s Advanced Custom Fields or Drupal’s native Fields implementation.

Nova also comes with in-built Filters and Actions; terminology also ‘borrowed’ from WordPress, with different meanings. All content types displayed within Nova can be filtered on the fly, and an Action is something which a developer can create which hooks into Nova and performs somewhat heavy tasks in the background. For example, importing a client database could be an Action in Nova.

Then there are Lenses, which allow you to fully customise the query run in the background of a page to change what data is displayed. I can imagine this being quite useful if, for example, your data gets quite granular and you want to really drill down the parameters and scope of the search you’re currently running in the Admin Panel

Why I’m interested

What really interests me and this is something I’ve wanted to implement myself for some time are the in-built Metrics included with Nova. Report Generation can apparently be done with ease, and while I am yet to see the feature, it sounds like you can enter parameters and it will generate graphs. With the right data supplied, this could be a self-hosted version of Google Analytics which tracks internal clicks and page views and gives you a measuring stick against the data which Google Analytics provides. Plus, who doesn’t love a good graph?!

I’m excited to see what Nova can do, and we’ll probably trial the use of Nova internally before assessing whether or not the functionality is:

  • a) Something we need
  • b) Something we can’t easily implement into our in-house systems

Further Materials

If you want to watch the talk, you can find it on YouTube here:

Interested in Laracon US as a whole? There’s a little microsite which is dedicated to cliff-noting the entire event here

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