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πŸ” Generates database queries based on one unique string
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Laravel Search String

πŸ” Generates database queries based on one unique string using a simple and customizable syntax.

Example of a search string syntax and its result


Laravel Search String provides a simple solution for scoping your database queries using a human readable and customizable syntax. It will transform a simple string into a powerful query builder. For example, the following search string will fetch the latest blog articles that are either not published or titled "My blog article".

Article::usingSearchString('title:"My blog article" or not published sort:-created_at');

// Equivalent to:
Article::where('title', 'My blog article')
       ->orWhere('published', false)
       ->orderBy('created_at', 'desc');

This next example will search for the term "John" on the customer and description columns whilst making sure the invoices are either paid or archived.

Invoice::usingSearchString('John and status in (Paid,Archived) limit:10 from:10');

// Equivalent to:
Invoice::where(function ($query) {
           $query->where('customer', 'like', '%John%')
               ->orWhere('description', 'like', '%John%');
       ->whereIn('status', ['Paid', 'Archived'])

As you can see, not only it provides a very convenient way to communicate with your Laravel API (instead of allowing dozens of query fields), it also can be presented to your users as a tool to explore their data.


# Install via composer
composer require lorisleiva/laravel-search-string

# (Optional) Publish the search-string.php configuration file
php artisan vendor:publish --tag=search-string

Basic usage

Add the SearchString trait to your models and configure the columns that should be used within your search string.

use Lorisleiva\LaravelSearchString\Concerns\SearchString;

class Article extends Model
    use SearchString;

    protected $searchStringColumns = [
        'title', 'body', 'status', 'rating', 'published', 'created_at',

Create a database query using the search string syntax.

Invoice::usingSearchString('title:"Hello world" sort:-created_at,published')->get();

The search string syntax

Note that the spaces between operators don't matter.

// Exact matches
'title:"Hello World"'
'rating : 0'
'rating = 99.99'
'created_at: "2018-07-06 00:00:00"'

// Comparaisons
'title < B'
'rating > 3'
'created_at >= "2018-07-06 00:00:00"'

// In array
'title in (Hello, Hi, "My super article")'
'status in(Finished,Archived)'

// Date checks
// - Term must be defined as a date
'created_at = today'        // today between 00:00 and 23:59
'not created_at = today'    // any time before today 00:00 and after today 23:59
'created_at >= tomorrow'    // from tomorrow at 00:00
'created_at <= tomorrow'    // until tomorrow at 23:59
'created_at > tomorrow'     // from the day after tomorrow at 00:00
'created_at < tomorrow'     // until today at 23:59

// Boolean checks
// - Term must be defined as a boolean
'published'         // published = true
'created_at'        // created_at is not null

// Negations
'not title:Hello'
'not title="My super article"'
'not rating:0'
'not rating>4'
'not status in (Finished,Archived)'
'not published'     // published = false
'not created_at'    // created_at is null

// Null values (case sensitive)
'body:NULL'         // body is null
'not body:NULL'     // body is not null

// Search queries
// - Term must not be defined as a boolean
// - At least one column must be defined as searchable
'Apple'             // %Apple% like at least one of the searchable columns
'"John Doe"'        // %John Doe% like at least one of the searchable columns
'not "John Doe"'    // %John Doe% not like any of the searchable columns

// And/Or nested queries
'title:Hello body:World'        // Implicit and
'title:Hello and body:World'    // Explicit and
'title:Hello or body:World'     // Explicit or
'A B or C D'                    // Equivalent to '(A and B) or (C and D)'
'A or B and C or D'             // Equivalent to 'A or (B and C) or D'
'(A or B) and (C or D)'         // Explicit nested priority
'not (A and B)'                 // Equivalent to 'not A or not B'
'not (A or B)'                  // Equivalent to 'not A and not B'

// Special keywords
'fields:title,body,created_at'  // Select only title, body, created_at
'not fields:rating'             // Select all columns but rating
'sort:rating,-created_at'       // Order by rating asc, created_at desc
'limit:1'                       // Limit 1
'from:10'                       // Offset 10

Configuring columns

Column aliases

If you want a column to be queried using a different name, you can define it as a key/value pair where the key is the database column name and the value is the alias you wish to use.

protected $searchStringColumns = [
    'body' => 'content',
    'published_at' => 'published',
    'created_at' => 'created',

You can also provide a regex pattern for a more flexible alias definition.

protected $searchStringColumns = [
    'published_at' => '/^published|live$/',
    // ...

Column options

You can configure a column even further by assigning it an array of options.

protected $searchStringColumns = [
    'created_at' => [
        'key' => 'created',         // Default to column name: /^created_at$/
        'operator' => '/^:|=$/',    // Default to everything: /.*/
        'value' => '/^[\d\s-:]+$/', // Default to everything: /.*/
        'date' => true,             // Default to true only if the column is cast as date.
        'boolean' => true,          // Default to true only if the column is cast as boolean or date.
        'searchable' => false       // Default to false.
    // ...

Query Patterns

The key option is what we've been configuring so far, i.e. the alias of the column. The operator and value options allow you to restrict column queries respectively based on their operator and value. The key, operator and value options can each be either a regex pattern or a regular string for exact match.

Date columns

If a column is marked as a date, the value of the query will be intelligently parsed using Carbon. For example, if the created_at column is marked as a date:

'created_at > tomorrow' // Equivalent to:
$query->where('created_at', '>', 'YYYY-MM-DD 00:00:00');
// where `YYYY-MM-DD` matches the date of tomorrow.

'created_at = "July, 6 2018"' // Equivalent to:
$query->where('created_at', '>=', '2018-07-06 00:00:00');
      ->where('created_at', '<=', '2018-07-06 23:59:59');

By default any column that is cast as a date (using Laravel properties), will be marked as a date for LaravelSearchString. You can force a column to not be marked as a date by assigning date to false.

Boolean columns

If a column is marked as a boolean, it can be used without any operator nor value. For exemple, if the paid column is marked as boolean:

'paid' // Equivalent to:
$query->where('paid', true);

'not paid' // Equivalent to:
$query->where('paid', false);

If a column is marked as both boolean and date, it will be compared to null when used as a boolean. For example, if the published_at column is marked as boolean and date and uses the published alias:

'published' // Equivalent to:

'not published_at' // Equivalent to:

By default any column that is cast as a boolean or as a date (using Laravel properties), will be marked as a boolean. You can force a column to not be marked as a boolean by assigning boolean to false.

Searchable columns

If a column is marked as a searchable, it will be used to match search queries, i.e. terms that are alone but are not booleans like Apple Banana or "John Doe".

For example if both columns title and description are marked as searchable:

'Apple Banana' // Equivalent to:
$query->where(function($query) {
          $query->where('title', 'like', '%Apple%')
                ->orWhere('description', 'like', '%Apple%');
      ->where(function($query) {
          $query->where('title', 'like', '%Banana%')
                ->orWhere('description', 'like', '%Banana%');

'"John Doe"' // Equivalent to:
$query->where(function($query) {
          $query->where('title', 'like', '%John Doe%')
                ->orWhere('description', 'like', '%John Doe%');

If no searchable columns are provided, such terms or strings will be ignored.

Configuring special keywords

protected $searchStringKeywords = [
    'select' => 'fields',   // Updates the selected query columns
    'order_by' => 'sort',   // Updates the order of the query results
    'limit' => 'limit',     // Limits the number of results
    'offset' => 'from',     // Starts the results at a further index

Similarly to column values you can provide an array to define the key, the operator and the value pattern of the keyword. Note that the date, boolean and searchable options are not applicable for keywords.

protected $searchStringKeywords = [
    'select' => [
        'key' => 'fields',
        'operator' => '/^:|=$/',
        'value' => '/.*/',
    // ...

Other places to configure

As we've seen so far, you can configure your columns and your special keywords using the searchStringColumns and searchStringKeywords properties on your model.

You can also override the getSearchStringOptions method on your model which default to:

public function getSearchStringOptions()
    return [
        'columns' => $this->searchStringColumns ?? [],
        'keywords' => $this->searchStringKeywords ?? [],

If you'd rather not define any of these configurations on the model itself, you can define directly them on the config/search-string.php file:

// config/search-string.php
return [
    'default' => [
        'keywords' => [ /* ... */ ],

    Article::class => [
        'columns'  => [ /* ... */ ],
        'keywords' => [ /* ... */ ],

When resolving the options for a particular model, LaravelSearchString will merge those configurations in the following order:

  1. First using the configurations defined on the model
  2. Then using the config file at the key matching the model class
  3. Then using the config file at the default key
  4. Finally using some fallback configurations.

Error handling

The provided search string can be invalid for numerous reasons.

  • It does not comply to the search string syntax
  • It tries to query an inexisting column or column alias
  • It provides the wrong operator to a query
  • It provides the wrong value to a query

Any of those errors will throw an InvalidSearchStringException. However you can choose whether you want these exceptions to bubble up to the Laravel exception handler or whether you want them to fail silently. For that, you need to choose a fail strategy on your config/search-string.php configuration file:

// config/search-string.php
return [
    'fail' => 'all-results', // (Default) Silently fail with a query containing everything.
    'fail' => 'no-results',  // Silently fail with a query containing nothing.
    'fail' => 'exceptions',  // Throw exceptions.

    // ...
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