I've been a paid member of Laracasts for 6+ years now, which is much longer than I thought. But this alone speaks volumes I think.
My plan is to give a detailed review of Laracasts, what I like about it and what I don't like. But most importantly, is it worth it? Should you spend your money on it?
If you don't have time to read the full review, my answer would be a solid yes. Laracasts has plenty of pricing options and at the bare minimum you should try it for 1 month.
Things I like about Laracasts
- There is a lot of content to watch. Laracasts own stats say it has 2960 lessons and 455 hours of content, which will no doubt increase over time.
- It's not just Laravel it covers. You also have topics on:
- DevOps - AWS, Laravel Forge and Vapor, and VPS / server setup
- Frameworks - Laravel, Livewire, Vue JS, Next JS, Nuxt, React, Inertia, Tailwind CSS
- Coding Techniques - Eloquent, OOP, Clean code, Security and Queues
- Testing - PHPUnit and Pest
- Tooling - Guides on Docker, VS Code, PHPStorm, Billing, Git etc
- Learning Path - A step by step process of videos and courses from beginner to advanced PHP and Laravel usage including Vue JS for frontend devs. This is a fairly new, but great addition as it gives you a defined path on where to start and how to progress.
- Larabits - Quick videos and how to's for when you don't have time for a full course.
- Creator Series - Tutorials from the creators of popular packages in the Laravel ecosystem. These are usually a deep dive into how things work and are great for expanding your knowledge.
- An active forum - Plenty of questions and answers for popular problems and tasks. There's also a lot of people who are very knowledgeable there.
- Chat With Larry - Your own personal Chat GPT style chatbot. Great for asking obscure questions and ones you can't find an answer to on Google.
- New packages and frameworks get good coverage - If something new is released to the Laravel ecosystem, there's a good chance you'll find a series on it shortly after on Laracasts, which is great for keeping up to speed.
- The videos are made with love - You can tell that the team put the effort in to make them better than your average screencast. Some of the intro videos have some crazy good animations.
As you can see there's plenty to like about Laracasts. However, like all things, there are parts I'm not too keen on. Now of course these are subjective, what I don't like, might not ever be an issue to you. So one to bear in mind.
Things I don't like about Laracasts
- There's a lot of content - Sometimes when I visit the site, I struggle to know what to watch next. If you are new to Laracasts and you land on the homepage for the first time, It's a little overwhelming to know what to do. I guess the problem with having so much content is knowing how to showcase it. A good problem to have nonetheless! This has been improved with the addition of the "Learning Path", but I reckon this should be more prominent on the home page.
- ChatGPT style AI replies to forum posts - A while back, automated AI responses to questions were added. At first I was optimistic as you didn't have to wait for a response. But over time I've grown to dislike this feature. The AI doesn't always give you the correct answer and I feel like this could encourage people to just copy and paste and then complain when it doesn't work. I think it also detracts from the community, especially the users who contribute a hell of a lot to it. I'd personally be put off from posting if I were in their shoes. However I've not actually seen an AI reply whilst scouring through the forums recently. I'll keep an eye on this and update / remove this point if it's not true anymore.
I personally would like to see the fundamental and beginner topics first and then moving onto the more advanced topics. Other than the nice, but quirky main navigation menu, you have a mix of topics, some of which are just icons with no titles and as a newbie to the site, I wouldn't know what to click on.
As you can see, it's not a massive list of bad points and to be honest I'd consider the two points I did mention to be minor ones.
How to use Laracasts?
Laracasts has over 450 hours of content for you to watch, a lot of it is free. If you are on the fence about paying, I'd recommend you watch either PHP for beginners 2023 edition or Laravel 8 from scratch. That's about 20 hours worth of content which should help you make up your mind.
Now moving back onto the title subject. How you use Laracasts depends on you. For myself, Laracasts began as a tool I used to binge watch a lot, and then over time it became more of a reference. Think of it as a book full of knowledge that I keep on going back to time and time again. It's become an invaluable tool for me.
If you are a beginner / junior in PHP land. There is a learning path. Where Jeffrey Way and other instructors take you through pretty much everything you'd need to know in order to become a proficient PHP / Laravel developer. This is a well structured course which will take some time to complete. There are also "extra credit" sections where you can expand on your knowledge.
There are also more challenging courses, such as the Creator Series which offer a deep dive into how the framework or packages work under the hood which are presented by the creators themselves. An excellent opportunity to learn from the best.
Chances are that if you need to do something in Laravel or just PHP in general, there will be a course or video showing you how it's done. You watch it, tinker with it in your own code and learn something new. If you need to come back to it, you know it's going to be right where you left it.
Is Laracasts Up to Date?
Generally speaking the content on Laracasts is up to date. There are a few courses or series which feature older versions of Laravel or frameworks, however it would be mainly pointless to update them to the latest version, as what is taught is still very relevant right now. So if you see courses which mention an older version, it's safe to assume you won't be learning stale content.
If something new in the ecosystem is worth learning about, Jeffrey and the gang are usually on it quickly.
Is Laracasts good value for money?
Yeah absolutely. But that depends on where in life you are. When I was younger, in my early 20s, paying for something, especially software or courses on the internet - just didn't happen. I just didn't see the value. I didn't want to spend X amount of money on something, I'd just try and get it for free some other way.
However, now that I'm older, and more importantly, I have more disposable income. Paying for things like Laracasts, becomes a much more simple choice.
One thing I always ask myself is: "Will I get my [money back / save time / make my life easier] on the thing I want to buy?" If I answer yes to this question AND i can afford it, i buy it.
As far as I'm aware, Laracasts pricing has remained the same for quite some time. $15 per month or $99 per year and $399 for lifetime access.
Every now and then there will be a sale where you can pick up a lifetime account for half price. And at half price, you'd be daft not to pick it up. All that knowledge whenever you want it, forever. If you can't afford that price, try and get your company to expense it for you. It's worth it.
Bet let's say the yearly or lifetime plan is out of the question, Is $15 a month worth it? Yes, of course. In the process of making this review I asked other developers on my team what they disliked about Laracasts, and they couldn't really think of anything. That's how good it is!
If you're on the fence, you should at very least give the free content a go first and then pay for one month, binge just like Netflix and then make up your mind. You've got to put yourself in the mindset of how this is going to help your career. I have a lifetime account and if you can afford it I'd wholeheartedly recommend you sign up too.
Now, if you've enjoyed this review and you feel like giving Laracasts a try, you can do so by signing up.