Today I showed off a task management and time tracking system I’ve been working on this week. The system isn’t unique or marketable, but simply meets the organisations needs without incurring a monthly fee – as so many systems do nowadays.
Not only did my co-workers and managers think it was a great system, they also were astounded at how quickly I’d produced a fully functioning system. The answer is with Laravel, generators and Twitter Bootstrap.
There are so many good frameworks out there today that nobody should ever code anything in straight PHP. When you use a framework, you have access to code libraries that take care of the basic functions of a web application – routing, security, authentication, database abstraction and more – for you, better than you would handle them yourself. I’ve found Laravel to be an exceptionally easy framework to use.
My application didn’t need to focus on authenticating users, writing SQL statements, dealing with URLs and fighting cross-site scripting and SQL injection. I just got on with the business logic of my application.
Whilst Laravel itself does not come with particularly powerful code generation – perhaps that’s not in the scope of a framework – Jeffrey Way has developed an outstanding set of generators for the Artisan command line interface. These generators help you develop anything from a simple database migration to a model to a whole set of code to support an object. Say I have an application to manage pets. Generate a pet scaffold with the generators and you’ve got a database migration, a model, a controller and a set of views. Everything you need to get started developing and avoid time-wasting boilerplate writing.
Knowing the objects I needed to work with, I simply generated all the scaffolds and then got to work coding the specifics.
I am not a designer. I don’t want to spend my time designing. I used to create really ugly admin panels. Not any more. Twitter Bootstrap allows you to create a beautiful user interface without trying. Just include the CSS and JS files in your source, and use the CSS classes to style your application. It even comes with an awesome icon font to give you lovely buttons instead of ugly links for your actions.
With these three tools, I could develop an application extremely fast, yet develop code that won’t have the next developer hunting me down for revenge.