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A custom session driver for Laravel 5.3

For a recent project built using the PHP framework Laravel a requirement was the ability to have certain resources be removed when the current session expires.

Using the built-in database session driver we maintain a pivot table linking Entities in a transient state to the current session. Later, if the current session logs in or registers an account we can store the processed entities against that account and remove them from the transients table, disassociating them from the current session.

This was brilliant and worked flawlessly-

Snippet of error screen during Laravel development

-until the session garbage collection attempted to clean up some old sessions and didn’t know to remove their related models.

This garbage collection, which can be triggered at any time (with a default probability of 2 in 100 requests) will affect another user’s session if it causes an error. In order to prevent any foreign key errors from occurring we need to ensure that all would-be orphaned records are removed before the session itself is destroyed.

To accomplish this, we devised a custom session handler to extend the provided database session handler.

Registering the AppDatabaseSessionHandler is done through a provider, which is set up the same way as the built-in DatabaseSessionHandler.

For our application, it relies on this functionality so it’s fine to hard-code the config into the app. Otherwise we would edit our .env files. To make it a simpler default for the application, editing it in .env.example would be a good idea too.

Now when a session expires, it transparently cleans up any model that has not been committed to permanent storage. Neat!

For an alternative approach, and one that may become more valuable once the project increases in scope, would be to leverage queuing and implement a garbage collection job that looks for orphaned records and removes them from the database.

Why not and we’ll get right back to you!

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