Getting Started with Laravel 4

With the release of Laravel 4 just around the corner a lot of people are trying to decide whether to start a new project with a stable 3.2 build or wait for the new version. I found myself in that position earlier this week so I decided to pull down Laravel 4 and work off that since I figured the transition would be smoother once a stable version 4 is released.

There isn’t really any documentation on how to get started with Laravel 4, and if you aren’t familiar with Composer, you might not know where to begin. That’s why I’m writing this. If you want to get started with Laravel 4 today, here’s how.

Laravel, Illumniate and Composer Packages

Laravel 4 breaks each core component of the framework into a Composer package. These packages are currently grouped together under the “Illuminate” organization on GitHub. All of these components are used by the Laravel framework, but now that they are stored as separate packages, they can easily be pulled into other projects with Composer.

Note: Familiarity with Composer isn’t necessary for this tutorial, but if you want to learn more, check out Easy Package Management With Composer by Phil Sturgeon.

Since Laravel 4 is dependent on Composer, you already have access to any package from the Packagist directory anytime you start a new project. That means you have thousands of packages at your fingertips and it eliminates the need for proprietary package management systems like Laravel Bundles and CodeIgniter Sparks.

Getting Started

There’s not much to this, it’s just 3 simple steps. I work on a Mac, but I’d imagine these instructions are pretty similar for other operating systems.

1. Pull Down the Application Template

First thing you need to do is pull down the Laravel application template. This is the starting point for Laravel 4 projects. The template is pretty empty, and if you’re coming from Laravel 3, you’ll immediately notice the absence of the laravelbundles and storage directories.

2. Install Composer

Run the following script to install Composer into the root of your project:

curl -s | php

You should see a success message if everything runs correctly.


I received the following error when I tried to install Composer the first time:

Some settings on your machine make Composer unable to work properly.
Make sure that you fix the issues listed below and run this script again:

The detect_unicode setting must be disabled.
Add the following to the end of your `php.ini`:
    detect_unicode = Off

If you encounter this error, just do as it says and add detect_unicode = Off to the end of your php.ini file at /private/etc/php.ini.

3. Install the Laravel Components

After composer is installed, you can use it to install all of the other Laravel components.

php composer.phar install

Running this command will install the packages that are specified in the composer.jsonfile. Here’s what that looks like:

    "require": {
        "illuminate/foundation": ">=1.0.0"
    "autoload": {
        "classmap": [
    "minimum-stability": "dev"

This doesn’t seem like much considering how many packages get installed when you run php composer.phar install, but that’s because each package can have its own dependencies. If we take a look at Illuminate’s foundation package, we can see that it has a whole bunch of its own dependencies that get installed too.

    "name": "illuminate/foundation",
    "description": "A web application foundation.",
    "keywords": ["framework", "laravel"],
    "license": "MIT",
    "authors": [
            "name": "Taylor Otwell",
            "email": "[email protected]"
    "require": {
        "php": ">=5.3.0",
        "illuminate/auth": ">=1.0.0",
        "illuminate/cache": ">=1.0.0",
        "illuminate/config": ">=1.0.0",
        "illuminate/container": ">=1.0.0",
        "illuminate/cookie": ">=1.0.0",
        "illuminate/database": ">=1.0.0",
        "illuminate/encryption": ">=1.0.0",
        "illuminate/events": ">=1.0.0",
        "illuminate/exception": ">=1.0.0",
        "illuminate/filesystem": ">=1.0.0",
        "illuminate/http": ">=1.0.0",
        "illuminate/pagination": ">=1.0.0",
        "illuminate/profiler": ">=1.0.0",
        "illuminate/redis": ">=1.0.0",
        "illuminate/routing": ">=1.0.0",
        "illuminate/session": ">=1.0.0",
        "illuminate/support": ">=1.0.0",
        "illuminate/translation": ">=1.0.0",
        "illuminate/validation": ">=1.0.0",
        "illuminate/view": ">=1.0.0",
        "symfony/browser-kit": "2.1.0",
        "symfony/css-selector": "2.1.0",
        "symfony/dom-crawler": "2.1.0",
        "symfony/http-kernel": "2.1.0",
        "symfony/translation": "2.1.0",
        "underscore/Underscore.php": "1.3.1"
    "require-dev": {
        "mockery/mockery": "0.7.*"
    "autoload": {
        "psr-0": {
            "IlluminateFoundation": "src/"
        "files": [
    "minimum-stability": "dev"

Start Your App

That’s everything! You can go visit your app just like you normally would and developing for Laravel is pretty much the same as it was before. Setup some controllers or start defining some routes!

Let me know if you have any troubles with this and I’ll be sure to revise this article or provide more troubleshooting tips!