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Stefan Bauer on His Attachment to Laravel and His Journey as a Developer

Updated on April 5, 2021

6 Min Read
Stefan Bauer interview

Stefan Bauer is a die-hard Laravel developer from Germany who has been developing from a very young age. Through the course of his career, he has worked in various companies, started side projects such as PingPing, and authored the book Laravel Secrets. We’re thrilled to have him share his experience and knowledge about Laravel with us today!

Shahzeb: Stefan, it’s lovely to have you with us. Could you please tell our readers about yourself?

Stefan: Hello everyone! I am glad to be part of this. My name is Stefan and I’m from Germany, near Munich. I am a passionate developer and started programming when I was 12 years old. At that time still with Turbo Pascal. At the age of 16, I started using PHP and MySQL. At that time, PHP was still in version 3. Since then, PHP hasn’t let me go!

I worked again and again as a developer. My strength is process optimization as well as monitoring development in companies. Currently, I am the lead developer at Frischepost GmbH in Hamburg – an online shop for sustainable food.

Shahzeb: How did the idea for PingPing come to you? Also, can you tell us about your association with Bobby Bouwmann?

Stefan: Besides my day job, I invest a lot of time in other projects, like PingPing which was founded back in 2018. It was never the plan to build a commercial product. I just wanted to have a simple way to monitor websites and their SSL certificates. Most solutions were too expensive or had features I didn’t need.

So I started to build my own solution with two super simple features:

I wanted to get notified when a website is down – as soon as possible (that’s why I introduced 30-second checks)

I wanted to get notified early before an SSL certificate is about to expire or became invalid for whatever reason.

After showing PingPing to some people, I got a lot of positive feedback, so I decided to start a commercial version of it. PingPing currently monitors more than 20,000 websites and certificates.

At the moment we also provide a custom white-label integration for other services. There is Fathom Analytics – the greatest privacy first focus analytics tool out there. They integrate with us and provide their customers with a way to get uptime monitoring for free.

As for my association with Bobby Bouwmann: when I was looking for a partner for my book “Laravel Secrets”, it turned out that Bobby is also the ideal partner for PingPing. Bobby is a very balanced peaceful person, who’s highly competent and always has good ideas. He’s the “Laracasts All Star.” Not to forget Lukas Kämmerling, who usually stays in the background, but is also an important pillar of PingPing. Among other things, he supervises our entire infrastructure.

Shahzeb: Stefan, you also wrote the book Laravel Secrets. Could you tell us a bit about this book? Who should read this book and how does it help developers to make a better and more efficient developer?

Stefan: Laravel Secrets has a big focus on the hidden features and know-hows of the Laravel framework. It helps you take shortcuts using certain features, but also teaches you the why, not just the how.

Laravel Secrets itself is split into two parts. The first parts are a few chapters with in-depth knowledge of certain parts of the framework. Think about the command line tools, models, and design patterns. The second part is a collection of time saving snippets that show the hidden features of Laravel. Laravel Secrets is another great resource in the Laravel community.

Shahzeb: What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before you begin writing a book?

Stefan: We didn’t really do a lot of research ourselves. The idea was pitched by me to Bobby. Bobby has spent over 6 years on the Laracasts forum helping people with their Laravel questions. From the experience, we realized that a lot of Laravel knowledge is not shared throughout the world. We wanted to get something out there that would share this super premium content.

From the beginning of the idea till the end, we kept a list of resources like blogs, links to Laracasts, tweets and our own secrets. Based on that, we created the book. We still have a ton of resources we didn’t put in the book yet, so there will be a free update this year as well.

Shahzeb: You have extensive knowledge of Laravel development. What motivated you to become a Laravel web developer? Who were your mentors and inspirations in this journey?

Stefan: I’m not sure I have that deep knowledge of Laravel. I also often refer to the documentation. What may differentiate me is that I know where to look and I know what Laravel fundamentally provides.

Originally, I come from the Symfony world. But many years ago I had to implement a project quickly and efficiently. I discovered Laravel (then still in version 3) and was overwhelmed by the result that could be achieved in a very short time.

That brings me to who motivated and influenced me. I felt comfortable in the Laravel community very quickly. I have always taken my cue from the people who are better than me. That motivates me. Back then, that was

Taylor Otwell
Jeffrey Way
– and Adam Wathan

I was lucky enough to get in touch with Adam at that time. To this day, we write from time to time, share ideas or just have a 5 min fun-talk. Adam has contributed a lot to where I am today.

Shahzeb: Would you like to tell our readers about some of the best Laravel projects you’ve worked on?

Stefan: That’s not so easy to answer. I think PingPing was certainly one of the most exciting projects.

Building a service that monitors 10 websites every 30 seconds is no problem. Building a service that monitors 500 websites is also fine. But building a service that scales up no matter how many websites and certificates are monitored is a challenge at some point. You learn a lot of new things. You pay meticulous attention to which queries you fire and how you build certain processes. Because remember: every call multiplies a thousandfold.

Besides PingPing, I once built a small warehousing with InertiaJS and VueJS. There you could scan barcodes of items via smartphone in the warehouse and then book them in or out. That was really cool.

Shahzeb: What do you enjoy doing when you’re away from your laptop?

Stefan: That’s a very good question. Because the question is, when am I not at my laptop?

But besides all my side-projects, I do indeed have some free time. I have a wife and two children. As you can imagine, they also want to spend time with me sometimes 🙂

Besides all that, I’m still with the fire department and the ambulance service and drive missions. This gives me some balance to my normal job and also often brings me back to reality.

Shahzeb: Which type of web hosting would you prefer for your clients? In your opinion, what are the benefits of hosting a site on cloud managed hosting than conventional shared hosting?

Stefan: In my business, I don’t have classic customers. I host myself on my own servers, both for all the customers I serve, and my private blog at stefanbauer.me.

For me, shared hosting is often not flexible enough, as I have little control over configurations and always have to settle for the status quo. For non-experienced users, shared hosting might be a good alternative though.

Shahzeb: What do you think about managed hosting solutions like Cloudways, that provide an optimized PHP stack with features to deploy their web apps? We would love it if you could test the Cloudways Platform and give us your valuable feedback!

Stefan: There are several providers out there, but I think Cloudways can be a great alternative in comparison to the others. Cloudways integrates with 5 different different cloud providers that make it easy to choose one. It doesn’t matter in the end if you just choose to host Laravel, WordPress or any other PHP application. You can collaborate in a highly scalable and secure environment.

What I also like about Cloudways is at the heart of the reason we built PingPing: you only pay what you need and use.

Shahzeb: Whom should we interview next and why?

Stefan: Although Bobby Bouwmann is my partner, I would suggest him as the next interviewee. Bobby has an incredibly broad and deep Laravel knowledge. He’s a top contributor on laracasts.com – everyone there knows him and he’s a valued, helpful community member there. Such an inspiring person.

Shahzeb: To inspire our readers, could you share some snapshots of your office space or your current workstation.

Stefan: Sure, no problem. I’ve always worked a lot in my home office. Since I joined Frischepost, that’s been the case exclusively. Who wants to drive 800km to the office every day? 🙂

Stefan-WorkStation

Thank you once again, Stefan.

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Shahzeb Ahmed

Shahzeb is a Digital Marketer with a Software Engineering background, works as a Community Manager — PHP Community at Cloudways. He is growth ambitious and aims to learn & share information about PHP & Laravel Development through practice and experimentation. He loves to travel and explore new ideas whenever he finds time. Get in touch with him at [email protected]

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