Goodbye Forge, Hello Ploi
When it first launched, Laravel Forge was the easiest and cheapest way to deploy a Laravel application onto a custom server. Recently, after repeatedly being presented with upgrade banners for new features, I decided to investigate the alternatives before committing to a higher fee. Happily, I stumbled upon Ploi.
At first I was skeptical that anyone could compete with the Laravel Core team who manage the established and stable product that is Laravel Forge, but over a few short hours I was increasingly convinced that Ploi was not only a suitable alternative, but hands down the better offering. Here's what finally changed my mind, made me switch all my sites and end my Forge subscription.
When it first launched, Laravel Forge was priced at $10 a month for unlimited servers, sites and services. This was an amazing and probably somewhat underpriced offering. It was incredible to be able to launch a Laravel site with a few clicks and forget about server management entirely. No more digging around in Nginx config files and hours spent installing the latest version of this or that version of PHP. Over time, more features were added for team functionality. I didn't upgrade because I didn't need access to these features. Later, the basic subscription price was increased slightly for new users, but the fee for users on existing plans remained the same.
In the last year or so, however, certain new features such as server monitoring and database backups were added but only made available to users on a premium tier at $39 a month. This is quite a steep increase for features that have now become commonplace on other services. Nevertheless, this is a price that would be well worth paying if it werent for two simple reasons.
First, instead of being hidden in the settings, these additional features are presented to all users irrespective of the tier they were on. This means that as you explore the UI, you are continually presented with useless pages for features you cannot use and encouraged somewhat relentlessly to upgrade to a higher tier.
Second, a lot has changed in the few years since Laravel Forge was launched. It is now much easier to deploy sites directly to cloud providers such as AWS and Digital Ocean. Furthermore, there are a number of competitors that offer the same feature set and more for a fraction of the price.
After a quick comparison of the alternatives, I stumbled upon Ploi. It makes a great first impression and gets better and better from there. First, its fresh design makes for a welcome break from Forge's simplistic user interface which despite being improved over the years has started to feel a bit tired. Its features are well organised, searchable and accessible and it's help pages are useful and comprehensive. Next, its pricing is cheaper than Forge on every tier and offers all Forge features for less than half the price. It is intuitive and easy to use and guides you to make full use of the featurews available to you. Even better, there is no mention of upgrading unless you are looking to do so.
Finally, when you are ready to pay a little bit more, you gain access to a rich array of features which are simply not available on Laravel Forge, such as:
- Site Monitoring
- File Browsing
- Status Pages
- The ability to suspend sites with the click of a button
- Zero Downtime deployment
All of this combined, made it a no brainer for me. Much as Laravel Forge has served me well over recent years, it was time to move on. I hope that this increased competition will make both products better and can't wait for all the quality of life goodies that we can look forward to over the next few years.
If you're convinced or simply want to try Ploi for yourself, you can sign up for a free trial with no credit card required.