Introduction

Since HTTP driven applications are stateless, sessions provide a way to store information about the user across requests. Laravel ships with a variety of session back-ends available for use through a clean, unified API. Support for popular back-ends such as Memcached, Redis, and databases is included out of the box.

Configuration

The session configuration file is stored at config/session.php. Be sure to review the well documented options available to you in this file. By default, Laravel is configured to use the file session driver, which will work well for many applications. In production applications, you may consider using the memcached or redis drivers for even faster session performance.

The session driver defines where session data will be stored for each request. Laravel ships with several great drivers out of the box:

file - sessions are stored in storage/framework/sessions.
cookie - sessions are stored in secure, encrypted cookies.
database - sessions are stored in a database used by your application.
memcached / redis - sessions are stored in one of these fast, cache based stores.
array - sessions are stored in a simple PHP array and will not be persisted across requests.

Note: The array driver is typically used for running tests to prevent session data from persisting.

Driver Prerequisites

Database

When using the database session driver, you will need to setup a table to contain the session items. Below is an example Schema declaration for the table:

Schema::create('sessions', function ($table) {
    $table->string('id')->unique();
    $table->integer('user_id')->nullable();
    $table->string('ip_address', 45)->nullable();
    $table->text('user_agent')->nullable();
    $table->text('payload');
    $table->integer('last_activity');
});

You may use the session:table Artisan command to generate this migration for you!

php artisan session:table

composer dump-autoload

php artisan migrate

Redis

Before using Redis sessions with Laravel, you will need to install the predis/predis package (~1.0) via Composer.

Other Session Considerations

The Laravel framework uses the flash session key internally, so you should not add an item to the session by that name.

If you need all stored session data to be encrypted, set the encrypt configuration option to true.

Basic Usage

Accessing The Session

First, let's access the session. We can access the session instance via the HTTP request, which can be type-hinted on a controller method. Remember, controller method dependencies are injected via the Laravel service container:

<?php

namespace App\Http\Controllers;

use Illuminate\Http\Request;
use App\Http\Controllers\Controller;

class UserController extends Controller
{
    /**
     * Show the profile for the given user.
     *
     * @param  Request  $request
     * @param  int  $id
     * @return Response
     */
    public function showProfile(Request $request, $id)
    {
        $value = $request->session()->get('key');

        //
    }
}

When you retrieve a value from the session, you may also pass a default value as the second argument to the get method. This default value will be returned if the specified key does not exist in the session. If you pass a Closure as the default value to the get method, the Closure will be executed and its result returned:

$value = $request->session()->get('key', 'default');

$value = $request->session()->get('key', function() {
    return 'default';
});

If you would like to retrieve all data from the session, you may use the all method:

$data = $request->session()->all();

You may also use the global session PHP function to retrieve and store data in the session:

Route::get('home', function () {
    // Retrieve a piece of data from the session...
    $value = session('key');

    // Store a piece of data in the session...
    session(['key' => 'value']);
});

Determining If An Item Exists In The Session

The has method may be used to check if an item exists in the session. This method will return true if the item exists:

if ($request->session()->has('users')) {
    //
}

Storing Data In The Session

Once you have access to the session instance, you may call a variety of functions to interact with the underlying data. For example, the put method stores a new piece of data in the session:

$request->session()->put('key', 'value');

Pushing To Array Session Values

The push method may be used to push a new value onto a session value that is an array. For example, if the user.teams key contains an array of team names, you may push a new value onto the array like so:

$request->session()->push('user.teams', 'developers');

Retrieving And Deleting An Item

The pull method will retrieve and delete an item from the session:

$value = $request->session()->pull('key', 'default');

Deleting Items From The Session

The forget method will remove a piece of data from the session. If you would like to remove all data from the session, you may use the flush method:

$request->session()->forget('key');

$request->session()->flush();

Regenerating The Session ID

If you need to regenerate the session ID, you may use the regenerate method:

$request->session()->regenerate();

Flash Data

Sometimes you may wish to store items in the session only for the next request. You may do so using the flash method. Data stored in the session using this method will only be available during the subsequent HTTP request, and then will be deleted. Flash data is primarily useful for short-lived status messages:

$request->session()->flash('status', 'Task was successful!');

If you need to keep your flash data around for even more requests, you may use the reflash method, which will keep all of the flash data around for an additional request. If you only need to keep specific flash data around, you may use the keep method:

$request->session()->reflash();

$request->session()->keep(['username', 'email']);

Adding Custom Session Drivers

To add additional drivers to Laravel's session back-end, you may use the extend method on the Session facade. You can call the extend method from the boot method of a service provider:

<?php

namespace App\Providers;

use Session;
use App\Extensions\MongoSessionStore;
use Illuminate\Support\ServiceProvider;

class SessionServiceProvider extends ServiceProvider
{
    /**
     * Perform post-registration booting of services.
     *
     * @return void
     */
    public function boot()
    {
        Session::extend('mongo', function($app) {
            // Return implementation of SessionHandlerInterface...
            return new MongoSessionStore;
        });
    }

    /**
     * Register bindings in the container.
     *
     * @return void
     */
    public function register()
    {
        //
    }
}

Note that your custom session driver should implement the SessionHandlerInterface. This interface contains just a few simple methods we need to implement. A stubbed MongoDB implementation looks something like this:

<?php

namespace App\Extensions;

class MongoHandler implements SessionHandlerInterface
{
    public function open($savePath, $sessionName) {}
    public function close() {}
    public function read($sessionId) {}
    public function write($sessionId, $data) {}
    public function destroy($sessionId) {}
    public function gc($lifetime) {}
}

Since these methods are not as readily understandable as the cache StoreInterface, let's quickly cover what each of the methods do:

The open method would typically be used in file based session store systems. Since Laravel ships with a file session driver, you will almost never need to put anything in this method. You can leave it as an empty stub. It is simply a fact of poor interface design (which we'll discuss later) that PHP requires us to implement this method.
The close method, like the open method, can also usually be disregarded. For most drivers, it is not needed.
The read method should return the string version of the session data associated with the given $sessionId. There is no need to do any serialization or other encoding when retrieving or storing session data in your driver, as Laravel will perform the serialization for you.
The write method should write the given $data string associated with the $sessionId to some persistent storage system, such as MongoDB, Dynamo, etc.
The destroy method should remove the data associated with the $sessionId from persistent storage.
The gc method should destroy all session data that is older than the given $lifetime, which is a UNIX timestamp. For self-expiring systems like Memcached and Redis, this method may be left empty.

Once the session driver has been registered, you may use the mongo driver in your config/session.php configuration file.