Tinker with the Data in Your Laravel Apps with Php Artisan Tinker

Samuel Oloruntoba
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Today we'll talk about how to use one of Laravel's lesser-known features to quickly read data from our Laravel applications. We can use Laravel artisan's built-in php artisan tinker to mess around with your application and things in the database.

Laravel artisan's tinker is a repl (read-eval-print loop). A repl translates to read-eval-print-loop, and it is an interactive language shell. It takes in a single user input, evaluates it, and returns the result to the user.

A quick and easy way to see the data in your database.

Table of Contents

    Wouldn't it be nice to see the immediate output of commands like:

    // see the count of all users
    App\User::count();
    
    // find a specific user and see their attributes
    App\User::where('username', 'samuel')->first();
    
    // find the relationships of a user
    $user = App\User::with('posts')->first();
    $user->posts;

    With php artisan tinker, we can do the above pretty quickly. Tinker is Laravel's own repl, based on PsySH. It allows us to interact with our applications and stop dd()ing and die()ing all the time. A lot of us know the insanity that ensues when there are print_r()s and dd()s all over our code.

    Before we tinker with our application, let us create a demo project. Let's call it ScotchTest. If you have the laravel installer installed on your computer, run this command.

    laravel new ScotchTest

    For those without the Laravel installer on their computer, you can still use composer to create a new Laravel project.

    composer create-project laravel/laravel ScotchTest --prefer-dist

    Database Setup: Running Migrations

    After installing our demo Laravel project, we need to create a database and setup migrations. For this article we will be using the default Laravel migrations. So we configure our .env file to point to the database you created for this test. The default migrations include creating a users table and a password_resets table.

    From the root of the project, run

    php artisan migrate

    After migrating our database, we should see something similar to

    Laravel Artisan Tinker Initial Migration

    Seeding our Database

    By default, Laravel provides a model factory that we can use to seed our database. Now lets begin to tinker with our application.

    From the root of the Laravel project, run the following command.

    php artisan tinker

    This command opens a repl for interacting with your Laravel application. First let's migrate our database. While in the repl, we can run our model factory and seed our database.

    factory(App\User::class, 10)->create();

    A collection of ten new users should show up on your terminal. We can then check the database to see if the users were actually created.

    App\User::all();

    To get the total number of users in our database, we can just call count on the User model.

    App\User::count();

    After running App\User::all() and App\User::count(), mine looks like this. You should get something similar to mine only difference being the data generated.

    Laravel Artisan Tinker Seed Database

    Creating a New User

    From the repl, we can create a new user. You should note that we interact with this repl just like you would write code in your laravel application. So to create a new user, we would do

    $user = new App\User;
    $user->name = "Wruce Bayne";
    $user->email = "iambatman@savegotham.com";
    $user->save();

    Now we can type $user to the repl and get something like this.

    Laravel Artisan Tinker Create a New User

    Deleting a User

    To delete a user, we can just do

    $user = App\User::find(1);
    $user->delete();

    Reading a Function/Class Documentation

    With tinker, you can checkout a class or function documentation right from the repl. But it depends on the class or function having DocBlocks.

    doc <functionName> # replace <functionName> with function name or class FQN

    Calling doc on dd gives us this.

    Laravel Artisan Tinker Read a Function

    Checking Source

    We can also check out a function or class source code while in the repl using

    show <functionName>

    For example, calling show on dd give us this.

    Laravel Artisan Tinker Check a Source

    Conclusion

    Laravel Tinker is a tool that can help us easily interact with our application without having to spin up a local server. Think of a simple feature you want to test in a couple of lines you'd delete from your project, use tinker instead.

    Samuel Oloruntoba

    33 posts

    A web developer with an affinity for Laravel and Vue.js. Loves performance and advocates for it. Available for hire email freelance or otherwise