Laravel - The Missing Docs - firstOr()

June 6, 2019

Laravel - The Missing Docs - firstOr()

As wonderful as Laravel's documentation is, there are still plenty of undocumented features and hidden gems in the codebase. One of them is an Eloquent method called firstOr().

It first came to my attention through this tweet. It looked intriguing so I fell through the rabbit hole and did a little bit of my favorite new sport: source diving through Laravel's codebase.

What does firstOr() do?

This method seems to have been introduced in Laravel 5.4 and it can be found in the Eloquent/Builder class vendor/laravel/framework/src/Illuminate/Database/Eloquent/Builder.php. It should look familiar because it is similar to sister methods such as first() and firstOrFail(). Unlike firstOrFail(), it executes a callback when it doesn't find a result, which can be a very powerful feature depending on your use case.

The first parameter is an array of columns that you wish to extract from your query (if it finds results). The second parameter is the callback I mentioned.

Let's see this in action. Here are a few examples I put together illustrating how you might use this.

Fail with Response

$r = App\User::where('id', 1)->firstOr(['name', 'email'], function () {
    return response()->json([
        'message' => 'This user does not exist.',
    ], 404);
});
Illuminate\Http\JsonResponse {#3474
     +headers: Symfony\Component\HttpFoundation\ResponseHeaderBag {#3480},
     +original: [
       "message" => "This user does not exist.",
     ],
     +exception: null,
   }

Fail with Exception

$r = App\User::where('id', 1)->firstOr(['name', 'email'], function () {
    throw new \Exception('This user does not exist.');
});
Exception {#3388
    #message: "This user does not exist",
    #file: "...\vendor\psy\psysh\src\ExecutionLoopClosure.php(55) : eval()'d code",
    #line: 2,
}

Fail with Logger

$r = App\User::where('id', 1)->firstOr(['name', 'email'], function () {
    logger('This user does not exist.');
});

Then in laravel.log you will see:

[2019-06-02 21:14:03] local.DEBUG: This user does not exist.

Success

A successful query returns an Eloquent collection object.

App\User {#3441
    name: "Mr. Leon Muller",
    email: "maiya57@example.net",
}

If you want the array representation, you can chain toArray(), of course:

$r = App\User::where('id', 1)->firstOr(['name', 'email'], function () {
    throw new \Exception('This user does not exist.');
})->toArray();

But there is an alternative:

$r = App\User::where('id', 1)->firstOr(function() {
    throw new \Exception('This user does not exist.');
})->only('name', 'email');
// result
[
    "name" => "Mr. Leon Muller",
    "email" => "maiya57@example.net",
]
Laravel
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