Posted March 09, 2016
Philsquare has greatly evolved in the last six years. We started out as a simple WordPress shop that offered workshops, theme setup, and custom theme services for this blogging platform. Eventually, we were simultaneously building WordPress websites while working with a web application building framework called CodeIgniter. This framework allowed us more flexibility when building highly customized websites. Soon afterwards we started using a CodeIgniter powered Content Management System (CMS) called PyroCMS. This became our main website platform and we stopped using WordPress completely.
In 2012, PyroCMS announced that their next major version would be built on the popular Laravel framework. In the next year, we started learning how to develop projects using Laravel and soon afterwards began building client projects exclusively with this framework. In this post, I’ll discuss a bit about Laravel and why we use it.
It is important to understand that Laravel is just a framework and not a CMS or website builder system such as WordPress or Drupal. It is strictly a tool for developers to use as a backbone for websites or web applications. There is no “install” screen or admin panel. There is no interface to install “themes” or “plugins”. We take this core framework and only add the features our clients need based on their project.
Many times we get asked to build something using a specific website builder, such as WordPress and Drupal, so they can “make their own content updates”. However, most clients will not use all of the website building features of these systems. They primarily use the content manager part of the technology. However, the perception is that you have to have a website builder to get the content manager. But this is not true. So let’s talk about the difference between a content manager and website builder which will help better understand what Laravel is, and why we use it to build websites.
A content manager is an interface that allows a user to create, update and remove content. Philsquare provides this system for all projects. Our clients can manage content such as pages, users, blog posts, files, class registrations and events from a panel inside their website. Since Laravel is just a base framework, we are free to build any kind of interface and match it to the project’s specific content types and complexity.
A website builder allows someone, with experience using web interfaces, to setup a website. Sometimes this experience will need to be in the exact website builder they intend on implementing. These systems are usually requested when the client wants, “the ability to not need a developer to add features to the website.”. Some believe that if the website is built using these systems, that they can easily add features in the future or make design updates. This has some truth, but there are many exceptions.
In the many years of us building WordPress websites, very few of these clients have ever used the website building features. Of the few that did, many still needed our design or development services. The reason for this is that although they could click a few buttons to add something like a calendar, it might not match the look of their theme, be complicated to setup or it needed to be customized for their exact needs. We then customize the add-on, match it to the theme and implement it on the client's website.
So, where does Laravel come in? We build websites with Laravel without the extra code and restriction that can come with other systems. Instead of spending additional time to figure out how to fit into the needs of the website builder, we are free to just simply start developing. This saves us time and our clients money.
Using Laravel, we can swiftly build custom web applications and websites, while still providing a content manager for clients. We have used it in projects such as thegranada.com, nrhamm.com, mareulife.com, lawrencemusicproject.com and dgchains.com. For more details about our projects or services please contact us.