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Taylor Otwell on the Importance of Documentation and Developer Experience in Laravel

31 January 2023 , by Simone Markham

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Here, Laravel creator Taylor Otwell shares the story of the importance of documentation and developer experience in Laravel.


Laravel has always focused on helping the developer be really productive. A lot of people say it makes them really quick, really fast in building applications. That's different to some frameworks.

A lot of people call Laravel a rapid development framework. It lets you build things really quickly to try out ideas, to prototype ideas. And that's really why I created Laravel as well, is to quickly and rapidly prototype these business ideas I had, and I wanted to build them, you know, quickly and efficiently and get them ready to go.

And that's always been a real, you know, a real focus of Laravel philosophically is letting people be really productive really quickly and being easy to learn.


So when I first released Laravel, I sort of had it in my head that whoever had the best documentation was going to win, like it was going to be the most popular tool in PHP. And CodeIgniter had really good documentation actually at the time, and I felt like that was very instrumental to their popularity, to their success.

And there were other tools in the PHP ecosystem that were very good tools, that were advanced tools. They let developers do really cool stuff, but they just didn't have great documentation.

So if you have your tool out there, no matter how good it is, if it's not well documented, if people can't understand it, then it's just not going to take off the same, you know?

So I actually set this like rule for myself that I wasn't going to release Laravel at all, not even a beta or an alpha or anything. And I still pretty much do this to this day without like 100% documentation.

Not like documentation coming soon. Not like here's some like one page of like rough notes like total complete website documentation from day one because I felt like if I did that, like once I'd set this goal to release Laravel, I felt like if I did that, then I could definitely make it popular if I devoted the time to actually telling people how to use it.

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