Framework integration / Laravel / Tutorials

Getting started with Laravel Scout and Vue InstantSearch

Integrating Algolia into Laravel has just gotten easier with the addition of Laravel Scout and the bundling of Vue JS. While Scout seamlessly wraps the Algolia engine, the Vue JS bundle simplifies the use of Algolia’s InstantSearch library.

For this tutorial, you need a fresh Laravel application. You’ll index a Contact model, which holds a name, an email, a company and a state.

The tutorial consists of 4 steps:

  1. Create the model class and seed the database
  2. Install Scout, then index your data
  3. Install Vue InstantSearch
  4. Build your search experience

Create the model

Create an empty model and a migration file with the corresponding artisan command.

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php artisan make:model -m Contact

This creates a model class in src/Contact.php and a migration in database/migrations/DATE_create_contacts_table.php.

Edit this migration file so it looks like this:

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<?php

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

class CreateContactsTable extends Migration
{
    /**
     * Run the migrations.
     *
     * @return void
     */
    public function up()
    {
        Schema::create('contacts', function (Blueprint $table) {
            $table->increments('id');
            $table->string('name');
            $table->string('email');
            $table->string('company')->nullable();
            $table->string('state')->nullable();
        });
    }

    /**
     * Reverse the migrations.
     *
     * @return void
     */
    public function down()
    {
        Schema::dropIfExists('contacts');
    }
}

Now that your Laravel app knows what a contact is, you can migrate the database to reflect these changes.

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php artisan migrate

Import your fake data

Now you need to import data from Algolia’s contacts dataset and place it at the root of your resources folder.

Create a seeder class so that you can select what data to import.

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php artisan make:seeder ContactSeeder

Laravel generated a new database/seeds/ContactSeeder.php file. Open it up and edit it to add the following class.

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<?php

use Illuminate\Database\Seeder;
use Illuminate\Support\Facades\DB;

class ContactSeeder extends Seeder
{
    /**
     * Run the database seeds.
     *
     * @return void
     */
    public function run()
    {
        $contacts = [];

        $raw = json_decode(
            file_get_contents(resource_path('contacts.json')),
            true
        );

        foreach ($raw as $contact) {
            $contacts[] = [
                'name' => $contact['firstname'].' '.$contact['lastname'],
                'email' => $contact['email'],
                'company' => $contact['company'],
                'state' => $contact['state'],
            ];
        }

        DB::table('contacts')->insert($contacts);
    }
}

This class opens the JSON dataset and pushes what you need into the database. You can now seed your database:

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php artisan db:seed --class=ContactSeeder

Install Laravel Scout

Install Laravel Scout and Algolia’s API client using composer.

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composer require laravel/scout
composer require algolia/algoliasearch-client-php:^2.2

If you use a Laravel version older than 5.5, add the service provider class name to the providers array in the config/app.php file. If you use Laravel 5.5 or higher, you can skip this step.

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Laravel\Scout\ScoutServiceProvider::class,

Create a scout.php file in your config folder with the following command:

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php artisan vendor:publish --provider="Laravel\Scout\ScoutServiceProvider"

Configure Algolia’s credentials

Head to your Algolia dashboard and go to the API keys section. You can find 3 important pieces of information there:

  • Your application ID
  • Your search-only API key
  • Your admin API key

You need to put these in your .env file. Don’t put these credentials directly in your config/scout.php file, they shouldn’t be part of your version history.

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ALGOLIA_APP_ID=YourApplicationID
ALGOLIA_SECRET=YourWriteAPIKey

MIX_ALGOLIA_APP_ID=YourApplicationID
MIX_ALGOLIA_SEARCH=YourSearchOnlyAPIKey

Index your data

Laravel Scout provides a convenient way to index your data: all you need to do is add a trait to your model. This trait adds functionalities to the default Model class, including keeping your data in sync with Algolia.

Open up your src/Contact.php file and add the Laravel/Scout/Searchable trait.

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<?php
namespace App;

use Illuminate\Database\Eloquent\Model;
use Laravel\Scout\Searchable;

class Contact extends Model
{
    use Searchable;
}

Before you can keep your data in sync, you need to perform a batch import the first time. Scout has added a command for this.

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php artisan scout:import 'App\Contact'

Take a look at your dashboard and you should be able to see your data.

Setup Vue.js

It’s recommended to use frontend search, which gives your users instant results, and also frees up your server from processing every search request. You can use the Vue InstantSearch library to create a frontend search without writing a lot of boilerplate JavaScript to handle complex search behaviors.

Install Vue InstantSearch

Since Laravel ships with Vue by default, you have nothing to setup. You’ll only need to add vue-instantsearch as a dependency with npm and register it as a Vue plugin.

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npm install vue-instantsearch algoliasearch instantsearch.css

Then, open up your resources/js/app.js and add the following line just after the window.Vue = require('vue'); line.

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import VueInstantSearch from 'vue-instantsearch';

Vue.use(VueInstantSearch);

Build your search experience

Compiling JavaScript code

To compile the JavaScript into the app.js bundle file, run the following command:

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npm run watch

This rebuilds your assets every time you change one of the JavaScript files.

Defining where Vue renders

In a default Laravel app, Vue renders inside an #app tag.

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<div id="app"></div>

Create a new file in your components directory called MySearch.vue and register it in app.js for the search interface:

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Vue.component('my-search', require('./components/MySearch.vue').default)

Then update the blade view, adding the my-search component:

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<div id="app">
    <my-search />
</div>
<script src="{{ mix('js/app.js') }}"></script>

You can use vue-devtools to debug your Vue components.

You can use InstantSearch’s default theming by importing it in scss/app.scss.

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@import '~instantsearch.css/themes/algolia-min';

Using InstantSearch components

Every InstantSearch component needs to be inside an <ais-instant-search> tag. This lets the library know how to contact Algolia servers. You can set this up in MySearch.vue.

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<template>
  <ais-instant-search :search-client="searchClient" index-name="contacts">
    <!-- Other search components go here -->
  </ais-instant-search>
</template>

<script>
import algoliasearch from 'algoliasearch/lite'

export default {
  data() {
    return {
      searchClient: algoliasearch(
        process.env.MIX_ALGOLIA_APP_ID,
        process.env.MIX_ALGOLIA_SEARCH
      ),
    }
  },
}
</script>

The library provides ready to use components to add a search bar and display the results.

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<ais-instant-search :search-client="searchClient" index-name="contacts">
  <ais-search-box placeholder="Search contacts..."></ais-search-box>
  <ais-hits></ais-hits>
</ais-instant-search>

By default, the component just shows the ID of the results. You can pass a template to change how your results display.

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<ais-hits>
  <template v-slot:item="{ item }">
    <h1>
      <ais-highlight
        :hit="item"
        attribute="name"
      />
    </h1>
    <h4>
      <ais-highlight
        :hit="item"
        attribute="company"
      /> -
      <ais-highlight
        :hit="item"
        attribute="state"
      />
    </h4>

    <ul>
      <li>{{ item.email }}</li>
    </ul>

  </template>
</ais-hits>

Conclusion

It’s recommended to create a frontend search using InstantSearch. InstantSearch is also available for React, Angular, and in a framework-agnostic version.

There is much more to learn. Check out these links to learn more about Laravel and Algolia:

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