Using multiple databases in Laravel for all queries

As we continue to grow our hosted Invoice Ninja platform we’ve been been looking into both vertical scaling [bigger servers] and horizontal scaling [more servers].

Initially we added more web servers using a load balancer. This was relatively easy to setup and as an added bonus provided higher availability. Over time however we’ve started to see our single database server experience increased memory usage, particularly after releasing our mobile apps.

Our plan was to simply divide our users across multiple databases. One database would function as the lookup server, the other databases would store the actual data.

Searching Google for ‘multiple databases in Laravel’ mainly returns examples of either specifying the connection for the particular query:


Or defining it in the model by setting:

protected $connection = ...;

However, if you’d like to use a different connection for all queries you can use:

config(['database.default' => ...]);

For our implementation we created a middleware class to find the database server with the provided credentials. The server is stored in the cache so the lookup is only required once every two hours, this is particularly helpful for the API where there’s no session.

To keep the lookup tables up to date we’re using Eloquent creating and deleted model events. Finally, to ensure our queued jobs use the right database we’re using Queue::before(...) to set it.

Laravel: TokenMismatchException error

A common cause for this error (assuming you’re correctly passing along the form token) is the form session expiring. This chunk of code will warn the user when the session is about to expire and enable them to extend it by making a simple get request.

Note: you’ll need to add a /keep_alive route which return ‘success’ (or any other value).

<div class="alert alert-warning" id="keepAliveDiv" style="display:none">
    This page will expire soon, <a href="#" onclick="keepAlive()">click here</a> to keep working

<script type="text/javascript">
    var redirectTimer = null;
    function startWarnSessionTimeout() {
        var oneMinute = 1000 * 60;
        var twoMinutes = oneMinute * 2;
        var twoHours = oneMinute * 120;
        setTimeout(function() {
        }, (twoHours - twoMinutes));

    function warnSessionExpring() {
        redirectTimer = setTimeout(function() {
            window.location = '{{ URL::to('/dashboard') }}';
        }, 1000 * 60);

    function keepAlive() {
        $.get('{{ URL::to('/keep_alive') }}');

    $(function() {

Lessons Learned – Part 1

When I think back to when I just started working as a programmer I distinctly remember thinking I knew what I was doing. Almost 15 years later I now have the experience to know how wrong I was. We learn from failure and over the years I’ve had the chance to learn a lot.

I can never forget (still trying…) my first major screw up. I was just a couple of days at my new job working on a mailing list solution for a custom CRM. I had temporarily added a line of code to force the test emails to just be sent to my address. A few hours later my boss asked me to make an adjustment. While working on it he asked me about an email he’d received. Of course I’d forgotten to put back the line of code and had sent my test email to all 200,000 users.

Part of this was likely hubris, how could I possibly forget to set this insanely important line of code. Of course everything that can go wrong will go wrong. I had been testing with some pretty stupid emails, messages to myself and that sort of thing. Luckily the email the went out was just the word ‘test’. Mistakes will always happen, we need to create environments which prevent them.

Looking back this clearly should have been an environment setting. Laravel has an extremely useful ‘pretend’ setting in the email config file which prevents any emails from being sent, writing them to the log instead.

I’m a strong believer in the value of mistakes. Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me. The scars we get when bad things happen never fully heal which thankfully serve as reminders in the future. I’ve probably become a bit too paranoid now (especially when working with emails) but I’m sure it’s for the better.

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Friendly URLs with per-account incrementing Ids in Laravel

For Invoice Ninja we wanted each account to be able to use friendly URLs where their Ids would increment.

This would mean the URL for the first client they create would be

Many accounts are stored in the same database so we’re not able to use the auto-incrementing Id field. The solution we’re using is to have all classes which store user data (ie, clients, invoices, payments, etc) extend the EntityModel class. To create a new instance you call the createNew() method.

Here are the benefits of this approach:

  • Context is tracked: The account and user the record belong to is automatically set. If an item is created by the system (ie, an automatically sent recurring invoice) the context can be inherited from an existing record.
  • Out of the box security: When setting foreign key values we use getPrivateId() to resolve the public id to a private table Id. This prevents the user from hand modifying the HTML to reference another account’s data.
  • Easy scoping: Using the scope() method we’re able to easily load data filtered by the account. For example Client::scope()->get() returns all of the accounts clients, while Client::scope($publicId)->get() returns a client using its public Id.

And finally the code…

class EntityModel extends Eloquent
	protected $softDelete = true;
	public $timestamps = true;
	protected $hidden = ['id', 'created_at', 'deleted_at', 'updated_at'];

	public static function createNew($parent = false)
		$className = get_called_class();
		$entity = new $className();
		if ($parent) 
			$entity->user_id = $parent->user_id;
			$entity->account_id = $parent->account_id;
		else if (Auth::check()) 
			$entity->user_id = Auth::user()->id;
			$entity->account_id = Auth::user()->account_id;			

		$lastEntity = $className::withTrashed()->scope(false, $entity->account_id)->orderBy('public_id', 'DESC')->first();

		if ($lastEntity)
			$entity->public_id = $lastEntity->public_id + 1;
			$entity->public_id = 1;
		return $entity;

	public static function getPrivateId($publicId)
		$className = get_called_class();
		return $className::scope($publicId)->pluck('id');

	public function scopeScope($query, $publicId = false, $accountId = false)
		if (!$accountId) 
			$accountId = Auth::user()->account_id;

		if ($publicId)
			if (is_array($publicId))
				$query->whereIn('public_id', $publicId);
		return $query;

I’m sure there are other ways to tackle this problem. Let me know in the comments or on twitter @hillelcoren if you have a different solution.

Logging errors in Laravel

Laravel comes with a really helpful Log::error() function to write messages to the log file. Here’s how you can use it to track PHP and JavaScript errors along with useful contextual information to help troubleshoot problems.

The Log::error() function accepts a second optional parameter allowing you to specify additional info. To make setting this easier create a logError() function in a Utils class.

public static function logError($error, $code = '', $context = 'PHP')
	$count = Session::get('error_count', 0);
	Session::put('error_count', ++$count);

	$data = [
		'context' => $context,
		'user_id' => Auth::check() ? Auth::user()->id : 0,
		'user_name' => Auth::check() ? Auth::user()->getDisplayName() : '',
		'url' => Request::url(),
		'user_agent' => isset($_SERVER['HTTP_USER_AGENT']) ? $_SERVER['HTTP_USER_AGENT'] : '',
		'ip' => Request::getClientIp(),
		'count' => $count,
		'code' => $code

	Log::error($error, $data);

Most of the code should be self explanatory. getDisplayName() is a function I add to the User class (as well as other classes) where there is logic involved in determining the name. In this case it may be the user’s full name or email address.

To configure Laravel to use this function by default change the App::error() function in app/start/global.php to the following.

App::error(function(Exception $exception, $code)
	Utils::logError($exception, $code);

To catch all JavaScript errors enable accessing the Utils::logError() function by adding this to your routes.php file.

Route::get('/log_error', function() 
	return Utils::logError(Input::get('error'), '', 'JavaScript');

And finally, add the following to function to your master template file.

window.onerror = function(e) {
	try {
			type: 'GET',
			url: '{{ URL::to('log_error') }}',
			data: 'error='+e
	} catch(err) {}
	return false;