Laravel 4 and database seeding

I’ve been playing around with Laravel 4 for a few days now and have been very impressed. Once I figured outhow to install it, so far the learning curve from Codeigniter seems to be small. Right now I’m taking an existing project written with Codeigniter and creating a Laravel version for it. I got the configurations set up, now to move on to the database. The migration feature is great. I’ve been able to create my database and rollback with ease. The next step is to take data from an existing database and import it over. I could dump it into an SQL file and be done with it. But the source project is live and data changes. I’d like to use migration to get the latest data off the source.

The solution is to use Laravel’s seeding. Migration and seeding work with each other. Unfortunately, the sample code and demo I’ve seen so far uses arrays to populate (seed) the database. It’s a good sign though because all I have to do is query the existing database and populate an array with the resultset. The problem is how and what the syntax is. After a few hours of researching online and testing, I’ve got the solution.

Let’s say your source database is MySQL and you have a client table with client_id and client_name columns. On your Laravel project you have a clients table with id, client_name, created_at, and updated_at columns. Add a new connection to your /app/config/database.php. If you have multiple MySQL databases, it’s okay, just append 2… so you have a mysql and mysql2 connection. So your mysql array connection holds your Laravel database and mysql2 holds your database connection information where you’ll be getting data from.

Next edit the /app/database/seeds/DatabaseSeeder.php file. Here’s what I have.

<?php
class DatabaseSeeder extends Seeder {

	/**
	 * Run the database seeds.
	 *
	 * @return void
	 */
	public function run()
	{
		Eloquent::unguard();

		$this->call('ClientTableSeeder');
	}

}

class ClientTableSeeder extends Seeder
{

	public function run()
	{
                // truncate the table before inserting imported data
		DB::table('clients')->truncate();

                // use mysql2 connection then query the database, then put resultset in array
		$clients = DB::connection('mysql2')->select('SELECT `client_id`, `client_name` FROM `client`');
		$now = date('Y-m-d H:i:s');

                // loop through the resultset and insert into laravel database
		foreach ($clients as $client)
		{
			Client::create([
				'id'			=> $client->client_id,
				'client_name' 	=> $client->client_name,
			    'created_at' 	=> $now,
			    'updated_at' 	=> $now
			]);
			
		}
	}
}

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