Mastering the Iterator Design Pattern in Laravel/PHP: Traverse Collections Like a Pro

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Mastering the Iterator Design Pattern in Laravel/PHP: Traverse Collections Like a Pro

Design Patterns Sep 9, 2023
Prelude: The Mystical World of Iterators

Navigating through collections of data with ease and style—that's what the Iterator Design Pattern is all about. In the sprawling land of design patterns, Iterator is the Gandalf guiding you through the labyrinthine arrays and collections. This article will take you on an epic quest to master the Iterator pattern, with Laravel and PHP as your trusty steeds.

What Is the Iterator Design Pattern?

The Iterator pattern provides a way to access elements of a collection without exposing the underlying representation. It's like the Rosetta Stone for collections; regardless of how complex or simple the data structure is, an Iterator provides a uniform way to traverse it.

Why Would You Need an Iterator?

Imagine you're a treasure hunter. The treasure is buried in various types of lands—arrays, linked lists, trees. With an Iterator, you have a magical map that works for all terrains, leading you to the treasure without worrying about the complexities of the landscape.

How Does It Work in Laravel/PHP?

PHP already has built-in interfaces like Iterator and IteratorAggregate that can help you implement this design pattern. Laravel, being the elegant framework it is, takes it up a notch with Eloquent Collections.

Basic PHP Iterator

Here's how you can implement a basic Iterator in PHP:

class MyCollection implements Iterator {
    private $items = [];
    private $pointer = 0;

    public function __construct($items) {
        $this->items = array_values($items);

    public function current() {
        return $this->items[$this->pointer];

    public function key() {
        return $this->pointer;

    public function next() {

    public function rewind() {
        $this->pointer = 0;

    public function valid() {
        return isset($this->items[$this->pointer]);

Iterating Over Eloquent Collections in Laravel

In Laravel, Eloquent Collections are already iterable, which means you can traverse them using a foreach loop directly:

$users = User::all();

foreach ($users as $user) {
    echo $user->name;

Real-Life Use Case: Filtering Blog Posts

Imagine you have a blog platform. You want to provide users with a way to iterate over posts, but only those that are published and belong to a certain category.

class PublishedCategoryPostsIterator extends FilterIterator {
    private $category;

    public function __construct(Iterator $iterator, $category) {
        $this->category = $category;

    public function accept() {
        $current = $this->getInnerIterator()->current();
        return $current->isPublished() && $current->belongsToCategory($this->category);

To use this custom Iterator:

$allPosts = Post::all();
$filteredPosts = new PublishedCategoryPostsIterator($allPosts->getIterator(), 'Tech');

foreach ($filteredPosts as $post) {
    echo $post->title;

Pro Tips and Caveats

  1. Memory Efficiency: Iterators are more memory-efficient than arrays, especially for large datasets.
  2. Loose Coupling: They help in achieving loose coupling between collections and the code that uses them.
  3. Complexity: Iterators can get complex if you have nested collections.

Epilogue: The Iterator's Endgame

The Iterator pattern is not just a tool; it's a paradigm that can simplify how you interact with collections. It allows you to traverse different data structures effortlessly, making your code cleaner and more modular.

So, the next time you find yourself lost in the forests of arrays or the caves of linked lists, remember that the Iterator is your Gandalf, guiding you through the darkness into the light of efficient code.


Anurag Deep

Logical by Mind, Creative by Heart