Asset Versioning in Laravel

Laravel Mix provides an asset versioning tool that allows us to ensure that browsers are always pulling in the latest version of our compiled assets. How can we implement cache busting if we are not using Laravel Mix? Here is a strategy that I have found useful.

The key to forcing browsers to update their asset cache is to change the name of the file that is being referenced. Laravel Mix does this by implementing asset fingerprinting; a unique file name is generated for each asset each time you run your mix scripts (in production) and the mix() helper method looks up the appropriate name via a mix-manifest.json file that is stored in your public path.

We can accomplish something similar by appending a query string parameter to our asset URLs. To do that we will set up a config value to keep track of our asset version and then use that value as a query parameter when calling our asset files.

To implement this we will first create an assets.php config file in our config/ directory. This config file will have one value, called "version":

Generating an Asset Version ID

1<?php
2
3return [
4 'version' => env('ASSETS_VERSION', null),
5];
config/assets.php

Notice that we are referencing a newASSETS_VERSION environment variable. Add this key to your .env file. We will set up an artisan command to update the value of the ASSETS_VERSION variable for us when needed. We can crib the functionality for this tool from the key:generate command, which performs a very similar task.

1<?php
2
3namespace App\Console\Commands;
4
5use App\Utilities\Str;
6use Illuminate\Console\Command;
7use Illuminate\Console\ConfirmableTrait;
8
9class AssetVersioningCommand extends Command
10{
11 use ConfirmableTrait;
12
13 /**
14 * The name and signature of the console command.
15 *
16 * @var string
17 */
18 protected $signature = 'assets:version {--force : Force the operation to run when in production}';
19
20 /**
21 * The console command description.
22 *
23 * @var string
24 */
25 protected $description = 'Generate an asset version identifier';
26
27 /**
28 * Execute the console command.
29 *
30 * @return int
31 */
32 public function handle()
33 {
34 $key = $this->generateRandomKey();
35
36 if (! $this->setKeyInEnvironmentFile($key)) {
37 return;
38 }
39
40 $this->info('Asset version key set successfully.');
41 }
42
43 // ...
44}
app/Console/Commands/AssetVersioningCommand.php

The generateRandomKey() method will be very simple:

protected function generateRandomKey(): string
{
    return Str::random(16);
}

The setKeyInEnvironmentFile() method is borrowed directly from the key:generate command with some slight modification:

protected function setKeyInEnvironmentFile($key)
{
    $currentKey = $this->laravel['config']['assets.version'];

    if (strlen($currentKey) !== 0 && (!$this->confirmToProceed())) {
        return false;
    }

    $this->writeNewEnvironmentFileWith($key);

    return true;
}

The writeNewEnvironmentFileWith() method is also borrowed directly from the key:generate command:

protected function writeNewEnvironmentFileWith($key)
{
    file_put_contents($this->laravel->environmentFilePath(), preg_replace(
        $this->keyReplacementPattern(),
        'ASSETS_VERSION=' . $key,
        file_get_contents($this->laravel->environmentFilePath())
    ));
}

Finally, this is the keyReplacementPattern() method, again borrowed from the key:generate command:

protected function keyReplacementPattern()
{
    $escaped = preg_quote('=' . $this->laravel['config']['assets.version'], '/');

    return "/^ASSETS_VERSION{$escaped}/m";
}

You can see the complete file here. With this command in place, we can generate a new asset version identifier upon each new deployment by adding a call to the assets:version command to our deployment script.

Using the Asset Version ID

Now that we have the asset version ID available to us, we need to update our asset urls to include the ID as a query parameter. We can do that with a custom blade directive. Add this to the boot() method of your AppServiceProvider:

1Blade::directive('version', function($path) {
2 return "<?php echo config('assets.version') ? asset({$path}) . '?v=' . config('assets.version') : asset({$path}); ?>";
3});
app/AppServiceProvider.php

This blade directive accepts a partial path to an asset. It uses the asset() url helper to generate a full URL to the asset, then appends our version ID to the url as a query string. If no version is found the query parameter will be omitted.

We will now need to update our layout files to use this directive when loading assets:

<script src="@version('/js/app.js')"></script>

We can now reference versioned assets anywhere we need to in our application, and we can ensure that browsers will always pull in the latest version of our assets when we deploy updates.

About the Author

Ryan C. Durham is a software developer who lives in Portland, Oregon, with his wife and daughter. His numerous areas of interest include PHP, Laravel, Golang and PostgreSQL, as well as organizational efficiency and communications strategies.

You can find him on GitHub and LinkedIn.