How to Register & Use Laravel Service Providers

If you’ve ever come across the Laravel framework, it’s highly unlikely that you haven’t heard of service containers and service providers. In fact, they’re the backbone of the Laravel framework and do all the heavy lifting when you launch an instance of any Laravel application.

In this article, we’re going to have a glimpse of what the service container is all about, and following that we’ll discuss the service provider in detail. In the course of this article, I’ll also demonstrate how to create a custom service provider in Laravel. Once you create a service provider, you also need to register it with the Laravel application in order to actually use it, so we’ll go through that as well.

There are two important methods, boot and register, that your service provider may implement, and in the last segment of this article we’ll discuss these two methods thoroughly.

Before we dive into the discussion of a service provider, I’ll try to introduce the service container as it will be used heavily in your service provider implementation.

Understand Service Containers and Service Providers

What Is a Service Container?

In the simplest terms, we could say that the service container in Laravel is a box that holds various components’ bindings, and they are served as needed throughout the application.

In the words of the official Laravel documentation:

The Laravel service container is a powerful tool for managing class dependencies and performing dependency injection.

So, whenever you need to inject any built-in component or service, you could type hint it in your constructor or method, and it’ll be injected automatically from the service container as it contains everything you need! Isn’t that cool? It saves you from manually instantiating the components and thus avoids tight coupling in your code.

Let’s have a look at a quick example to understand it.

As you can see, the SomeClass needs an instance of FooBar to instantiate itself. So, basically, it has a dependency that needs to be injected. Laravel does this automatically by looking into the service container and injecting the appropriate dependency.

And if you’re wondering how Laravel knows which components or services to include in the service container, the answer is the service provider. It’s the service provider that tells Laravel to bind various components into the service container. In fact, it’s called service container bindings, and you need to do it via the service provider.

So it’s the service provider that registers all the service container bindings, and it’s done via the register method of the service provider implementation.

That should bring another question on the table: how does Laravel know about various service providers? Did you just say anything? I’ve just heard someone saying that, Laravel should figure that out automatically too! Oh boy, that’s too much to ask: Laravel is a framework not a superman, isn’t it? Kidding apart, that’s something you need to inform Laravel explicitly.

Go ahead and look at the contents of the config/app.php file. You’ll find an array entry that lists all the service providers that will be loaded during the bootstrapping of the Laravel application.

So, that was the service container at your disposal. From the next section onwards, we’ll focus on the service provider, which is the main topic of this article!

What Is a Service Provider?

If the service container is something that allows you to define bindings and inject dependencies, then the service provider is the place where it happens.

Let’s have a quick look at one of the core service providers to understand what it does. Go ahead and open the vender/laravel/framework/src/Illuminate/Cache/CacheServiceProvider.php file.

The important thing to note here is the register method, which allows you to define service container bindings. As you can see, there are three bindings for the cache, and memcached.connector services.

Basically, we’re informing Laravel that whenever there’s a need to resolve a cache entry, it should return the instance of CacheManager. So we’re just adding a kind of mapping in the service container that can be accessed via $this->app.

This is the proper way to add any service to a Laravel service container. That also allows you to realize the bigger picture of how Laravel goes through the register method of all service providers and populates the service container! And as we’ve mentioned earlier, it picks up the list of service providers from the config/app.php file.

And that’s the story of the service provider. In the next section, we’ll discuss how to create a custom service provider so that you can register your custom services into the Laravel service container.

Create Your Custom Service Provider

Laravel already comes with a hands-on command-line utility tool, artisan, which allows you to create template code so that you don’t have to create it from scratch. Go ahead and move to the command line and run the following command in your application root to create a custom service provider.

And that should create the file EnvatoCustomServiceProvider.php under the app/Providers directory. Open the file to see what it holds.

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