Use Resource Controller, Artisan and Tinker to set up REST API in Laravel 5.3

In the last post we built the client side of our application with Vue.js and Google Maps API.

Before that, we generated our application and added authentication using Laravel 5.3.

In this post we will handle generating a model and controller for our application. This will set up a database table and handle RESTful routing. To save boilerplate code we’ll utilize Laravel’s Resource Controller. Lastly we’ll test that it works by adding data to our database and querying it using Eloquent and the php artisan tinker command.

The source code for this application is available here:

Generate the Model

For this one our model is going to be called Candidates with a name, email, phone, lat, long, street, city, state and zip. We head to the command line and run:

$ php artisan make:model Candidate
$ php artisan make:migration create_candidates_table

Then in the database/migrations we will find a create_candidates_table file with a number before it. (The number is the timestamp in order to avoid conflicting migrations.) In that file we add to up and down methods. The up method is for creating the SQL columns in our database and the down is for removing the table during migration rollbacks.


use Illuminate\Support\Facades\Schema;
use Illuminate\Database\Schema\Blueprint;
use Illuminate\Database\Migrations\Migration;

class CreateCandidatesTable extends Migration
     * Run the migrations.
    public function up()
        Schema::create('candidates', function (Blueprint $table) {
            $table->string('phone', 30)->nullable();
            $table->float('latitude', 10, 6);
            $table->float('longitude', 10, 6);
            $table->string('city', 50);
            $table->string('state', 2);
            $table->string('zip', 12);

     * Reverse the migrations.
    public function down()

We can then re-create the SQL table:

$ php artisan migrate:rollback

If you get an error “no such table candidates”, then comment out the schema::drop line and rollback. The rollback is for dropping the table but it cannot be dropped if the table does not exist yet. Rollback runs the down and then the up methods. It also deletes data in our database so do not use it in production environment! Instead if changing the database structure or adding tables create a new migrate file and run $ php artisan migrate.

Generate the Controller

We are going to generate a Resource Controller so that all of our CRUD options work automatically. This adds GET, POST, PUT and DELETE requests for our model as expected in a Restful API. It saves us a lot of work! Thanks Laravel.

$ php artisan make:controller CandidateController --resource

To register the routes for the controller we head into routes/web.php (this is a new file structure in the 5.3 release) and add:

Route::resource('candidates', 'CandidateController');

This generates a whole lot of routes for our controllers. This is from the docs:

Laravel 5.3 Resource Controller documentation

Substitute ‘candidates’ for ‘photos’ and that’s what we have. You can also view all routes in the application using $ php artisan route:list.

Generate a database record with Tinker

We can use tinker and Eloquent commands to speak directly with our SQL database.

The artisan tinker command allows us to write SQL direct to our database. We are going to use it in order to generate our first Candidate.

$ php artisan tinker
>>>>  $candidate = new App\Candidate;
      $candidate->name = 'John Doe';
      $candidate->email = '
      $candidate->latitude = 37.809799;
      $candidate->longitude = -122.295232;
      $candidate->city = 'Oakland';
      $candidate->state = 'CA';
      $candidate->zip = '94607';
>>> $candidate
=> App\Candidate {#691
name: "John Doe",
email: "",
latitude: 37.809799,
longitude: -122.295232,
city: "Oakland",
state: "CA",
zip: "94607",
>>> $candidate->save();
=> true

This will add one Candidate named John Doe to our database.

Now to view this candidate in the browser add an index method to app/Http/Controllers/CandidateController.php:

class CandidateController extends Controller
     * Display a listing of the resource.
    public function index()
        $candidates = Candidate::all();

        return $candidates;

To test our REST API you can head to http://localhost:8000/candidates and view the JSON! Laravel automatically serializes the table data into JSON form.

Our candidate in the database.

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Source code: