Installing the TALL Stack

Getting started doesn't have to be a TALL order!

A photo of Alex holding his corgi, Leia, up in the air.
Laravel, Livewire
Aug 15, 2020

Lately, I've been having a lot of fun building applications with the TALL stack. In case you haven't heard, the TALL stack is a full-stack solution built around technologies that work with the Laravel framework (more information here if you're interested). Much of the power of the TALL stack comes from how it leans into the existing Laravel developer workflow without having to branch too far out from the skills a Laravel developer would already know to make smooth, reactive front-end experiences.

Breaking down the TALL stack

Before we dive into how we can set up a TALL stack application, let's talk about the different technologies that make up the TALL stack.

Tailwind CSS

Tailwind was launched in alpha in 2017, but made a significant name for itself in May 2019 when the first 1.x stable release was launched to the public. Since then, it has continued to carve out a spot for itself in the front-end development world.

Frequently, Tailwind is compared to front-end frameworks like Bootstrap, Bulma, and others in that area, but in reality, Tailwind is more than a collection of CSS rules bundled into a package. Tailwind's real power lies in its ability to allow designers and developers to develop a master design schema that is used across an application (or suite of applications).

Alpine JS

Alpine is to JavaScript what Tailwind is to CSS. Alpine is a library that lets you write lightweight, performant JavaScript directly in your HTML to create simple, interactive components on the page. Alpine was created by Caleb Porzio because of a need to add interactivity on web pages that Livewire (his other major open-source package) wasn't designed to handle. Since then, Alpine has made a splash separate from Livewire wherever light, simple JavaScript was needed.

Livewire

Livewire is the glue that holds the TALL stack together. Simply put, Livewire lets Laravel developers write PHP code like they would normally write, but create server-driven reactive components that can give Laravel apps built with Livewire a "SPA-feel".

Laravel

Laravel is the framework that serves as the base for the TALL stack. It is a full-stack PHP framework that is powerful and easy to use, and can handle anything from small personal blogs to large, enterprise systems.

Installing the TALL stack

This super short installation guide assumes that you have the following set up on your development environment:

It also assumes that you're running in a macOS or Linux environment. Sorry Windows users, I haven't developed on a Windows machine for a long time now, so I'm really out of the loop.

Step 1: Create a new Laravel install

First, in your terminal, move to the directory where you want to install the Laravel project. Once there, run laravel new {project name} to use the Laravel Installer to create a new Laravel install.

Step 2: Add the TALL stack preset to composer.json

Once your Laravel install is all set up, move into your Laravel install directory:

cd {project_name}

From there, use Composer to add two packages, Livewire and the TALL stack front-end preset:

composer require livewire/livewire laravel-frontend-presets/tall

Step 3: Authentication, or no authentication?

If you boot up your Laravel application right now, you might be surprised to see that it doesn't look any different than a vanilla, out-of-the-box Laravel app. That's because we've asked Composer to fetch the Livewire code and the TALL stack front-end preset, but we haven't actually done anything with the code yet.

Lucky for us, Laravel is prepared to do the heavy lifting when it comes to setting up the TALL stack. We just need to make one more important decision before going any further: do we want to use authentication in this project, or not?

If we don't want to use authentication in this project, run

php artisan ui tall

If we DO want the authentication scaffolding, run

php artisan ui tall --auth
php artisan migrate

Step 4: Build the front-end

Once we have all of the front-end code in place, we just have to build it. When you're ready, we only have one more command to run before we can see the TALL stack in all its glory:

npm install && npm run dev

This command installs all of the front-end dependencies and compiles them into code that our browser can understand.

And that's all there is to it! Now that it's easier than ever to get a TALL stack application up and running, give it a try and see what you think! I'd love to hear about your experiences with the TALL stack, so give me a shout on Twitter and let me know what you think!