DEV Community

Stef Pletinck
Stef Pletinck

Posted on

Building rich search using Laravel and Vue.js

For the longest time, the in-house invoicing and CRM package where I work used Select2 for all search boxes. The main "customer search" box had some extra code tacked on that would load the customer's profile when you selected a customer in Select2. This worked, but had a number of issues:

  1. All searchable data had to be in Select2's data string.
  2. We can only show this data string per customer, no extra controls, info or shortcuts.

I set out to fix this, by building a custom search solution. If you want to follow along, this isn't a tutorial but more of a guide for those familiar with Laravel. I won't tell you how to add a route, for example.

The backend

Our managment software is written in Laravel with just a little bit of Vue sprinkled on top here and there to make this more interactive. For searching, we were already using the amazing Eloquence library. It does a lot, but most importantly it allows you to very easily add multi-column search to your models.

use Sofa\Eloquence\Eloquence;

class Customer extends Model
    use Eloquence;
    protected $searchableColumns = ['first_name', 'last_name', 'email', 'address', 'phone', 'mobile'];

That's all we need to do to our model! If you want, you can set up what fields are visible in the JSON for our model, but I'll refer you to the Laravel documentation for that.

Now we need to add a controller method to handle search, and figure out what the api will look like. Our old search API will still be used in quite a few places, so we can't use /customers/find?q=<querystring>. Instead, I went with /customers/findRich?q=<querystring>. Let's add that route and point it to a new controller method. This method turned out to be ridiculously simple:

    public function findRich(Request $request)
        $term = trim($request->q);
        if (empty($term))
            return response()->json([]);

        $customers = Customer::search($term)->limit(self::SEARCH_LIMIT)->get();

        // This should do automatic and nice JSON
        return $customers;

That's it!


I wanted our frontend to be able to get the URL for a Customer, as well as the URL to make a new Repair or Quote for that customer to show in the frontend. I decided to add properties for that to the Customer model and include them in the JSON, like so:

protected $appends = ['url'];
public function getUrlAttribute()
    return url()->route('', $this);

The $appends variable can be used to add non-column properties to the serialized version of a model. Be sure to add the same properties to $visible as well, if you use it. Otherwise, they still won't show up in the JSON.


In the side-bar of every view, I simply included a text input:

<input type="text" id="main-customer-search" v-model="customerSearchTerm" placeholder="Search for customers..." />

The id is used for our sidewide keyboard-shortcut system, if you are wondering.

I added customerSearchTerm to the main Vue instance's data object, but that's it. Our main instance does nothing, it just registers some external components and passes some data between those components. It doesn't even have a single method!

All my components are vue single-file components, but my styling is done in a separate SCSS file, to hook into our Bootstrap variables and theming. The template turned out quite simple

    <div v-if="visible" id="customer-search-popover">
        <div class="customer-search-modal-header modal-header">
            <h5 class="modal-title">Search results</h5>
            <button type="button" class="close" v-on:click="dismiss" aria-label="Close">
                <span aria-hidden="true">&times;</span>
        <table class="table table-sm table-hover">
                <th scope="col">Customer</th>
                <th scope="col">Phone</th>
                <th scope="col">Mobile</th>
                <th scope="col">E-mail</th>
                <th scope="col">Actions</th>
                <th scope="col"></th>
                <tr v-for="customer in customers" v-bind:key="">
                    <th class="align-middle" scope="row">{{ }}</th>
                    <td class="align-middle">{{ customer.formatted_phone }}</td>
                    <td class="align-middle">{{ customer.formatted_mobile }}</td>
                    <td class="align-middle"><a :href="'mailto:' +">{{ }}</a></td>
                    <td class="align-middle">
                        <a class="btn btn-outline-primary" :href="customer.url">View</a>
                    <td class="align-middle">
                        <a class="btn btn-outline-secondary" :href="customer.quick_repair_url">Repair</a>

You can see we are using the url properties added earlier. I used a mix of bootstrap and own classes here, the SCSS ended up looking like this:

#customer-search-popover {
    position: absolute;
    width: 100%;
    min-height: 5rem;
    z-index: 1000;
    padding: 1rem;
    background-color: $white;
    box-shadow: $box-shadow-lg;
    border: 1px solid $orange;
    @include border-radius($modal-content-border-radius);

.customer-search-modal-header {
    background-color: $orange;
    color: $white;
    margin-top: -1rem;
    margin-left: -1rem;
    margin-right: -1rem;
    margin-bottom: $spacer;
    border-radius: 0;

This is nothing fancy at all, just setting up a modal window with a drop shadow and a header.

The Javascript code is nothing fancy either, I believe in plain and simple. The modal should be visible if we have search results and the user hasn't clicked the close button, and if the prop that passes in a search term gets changed, we call a debounced function to fetch a new set of search results from the API we made earlier. That ends up lookiing like this:

 import { debounce, headers } from '../util.js';
 export default {
     props: {
         'searchTerm': {type: String},
         'searchUrl': {required: true, type: String},
         'csrf': {required: true, type: String},
     data() {
         return {
             customers: [],
             hide: false,
     methods: {
         dismiss: function () {
             this.hide = true;
     computed: {
         visible: function() {
             return !this.hide && this.customers && this.customers.length;
     watch: {
         'searchTerm': debounce(function (val, old) {
             this.hide = false;
             fetch(this.searchUrl + '?q=' + encodeURI(this.searchTerm), {
                 headers: headers,
             }).then(res => {
                 if (!res.ok)
                     res.text().then(res => console.error(res));
                     res.json().then(res => this.customers = res);
         }, 100, false),

The debounce function I imported here is not my own invention, I stole took inspiration from some other blog for it. It just takes a function, a timeout and the third parameter can be used to force the execution of the function. headers is just a set of headers that I use all throughout the front-end so I split it out. Gotta keep DRY.

I hope this was of any use for anyone! Cheers!

Top comments (0)