Understanding how notification channels work

Updated: Jan 6, 2019 — 4 min Read#notifications

As we discussed earlier, the Notifications\[email protected]() uses the Notifications\[email protected]() method to create a driver based on the channel the notification should be sent through.

The ChannelManager extends the Support\Manager class which Laravel uses as a factory class in many situations, the driver() method has the following:

if (! isset($this->drivers[$driver])) {
    $this->drivers[$driver] = $this->createDriver($driver);

return $this->drivers[$driver];

The create() driver method uses the channel name passed and looks for a method in the ChannelManager class that creates the channel:

$method = 'create'.Str::studly($driver).'Driver';

if (method_exists($this, $method)) {
    return $this->$method();

So for example if we want to use the slack channel, the manager will be looking for a createSlackDriver() method.

Currently there are 3 built in notification channels:

Then how does laravel load custom channels?

To pass a custom notification channel you use the channel class name, inside the ChannelManagerlaravel overrides the createDriver() method like this:

try {
    return parent::createDriver($driver);
} catch (InvalidArgumentException $e) {
    if (class_exists($driver)) {
        return $this->app->make($driver);

    throw $e;

So in case Laravel couldn't load a driver with the given channel name it'll assume you're trying to load a custom notification channel by its class name, and it uses the container to build an instance of the given class.

The Database Notification Channel

To send a notification, Laravel calls the send() method on that channel, here's how that method looks like in the Database channel:

public function send($notifiable, Notification $notification)
    return $notifiable->routeNotificationFor('database')->create([
        'id' => $notification->id,
        'type' => get_class($notification),
        'data' => $this->getData($notifiable, $notification),
        'read_at' => null,

The routeNotificationFor() method exists in the Notifications\RoutesNotifications trait, this trait is used inside the Notifications\Notifiable trait that a User model uses by default in a fresh laravel installation, this method is used to determine where to route the notification to, here's how this method looks like:

public function routeNotificationFor($driver)
    if (method_exists($this, $method = 'routeNotificationFor'.Str::studly($driver))) {
        return $this->{$method}();

    switch ($driver) {
        case 'database':
            return $this->notifications();
        case 'mail':
            return $this->email;
        case 'nexmo':
            return $this->phone_number;

So it looks for a routeNotificationFor{DriverName} method in the notifiable class, and uses the output of such method as the route.

However, for the mail driver it uses the mail attribute of the notifiable, for the nexmo driver it uses the phone_number attribute, and for the database driver it uses the notifications()relationship method by default.

Where's that method coming from?

The Notifiable trait uses the Notifications\HasDatabaseNotifications trait which holds the relationship definition between the notifiable model and the DatabaseNotification built-in model.

public function notifications()
    return $this->morphMany(DatabaseNotification::class, 'notifiable')
                        ->orderBy('created_at', 'desc');

Back to the send method:

What the send method does is that it creates a new database row in the notifications table, it uses a getData() internal method to get the content of the notification that will be decoded into JSON before storing it in the database:

if (method_exists($notification, 'toDatabase')) {
    return is_array($data = $notification->toDatabase($notifiable))
                        ? $data : $data->data;

if (method_exists($notification, 'toArray')) {
    return $notification->toArray($notifiable);

throw new RuntimeException(
    'Notification is missing toDatabase / toArray method.'

So it looks for a toDatabase or a toArray method on the the Notification class and uses the output as the notification data.

The broadcasting notification channel

Similar to the database channel, it uses a getData internal method to get the data of the notification from a toBroadcast method or a toArray method, however you can return a Notifications\Messages\BroadcastMessage from within your toBroadcast method, this class implements the Queueable trait that you can use to configure how the broadcasted event will be queued.

Here's how the send method looks like:

$message = $this->getData($notifiable, $notification);

$event = new BroadcastNotificationCreated(
    $notifiable, $notification, is_array($message) ? $message : $message->data

if ($message instanceof BroadcastMessage) {

return $this->events->dispatch($event);

So it creates a BroadcastNotificationCreated event, and dispatches it using Laravel's Event Dispatcher, as you can see if you return an instance of BroadcastMessage you can configure the queue and the connection of the queued event.

Mail notification channel

Using the mail notification channel you can build your mail message using a Mail\Mailableinstance or a Notifications\Messages\MailMessage, in your toMail() method you can return an instance of Mailable and in that case the MailChannel will only call send() on that instance:

$message = $notification->toMail($notifiable);

if ($message instanceof Mailable) {
    return $message->send($this->mailer);

On the other hand if you decided to use the Notification System's MailMessage the MailChannelwill use Laravel's Mail\Mailer to send the message:

$this->mailer->send($this->buildView($message), $message->data(), function ($mailMessage) use ($notifiable, $notification, $message) {
    $this->buildMessage($mailMessage, $notifiable, $notification, $message);

By default Laravel uses a default markdown view notifications::email to create HTML & Text versions of your message, this allows you to build a simple mail message using PHP only, you can find this markdown view at Notifications/resources/views/email.blade.php, it renders the properties of your MailMessage instance to build the content of the email:

@foreach ($introLines as $line)
{{ $line }}


The MailMessage class extends the SimpleMessage class that contains a line() method, this method fils the introLines array with paragraphs you want to show in your mail message, this array is used in the portion of email.blade.php shared above to display these paragraphs in your actual email message.

If you take a look at the official documentation you can find all the configurations you might need to send a mail message, you can also take a look at the Notifications\Channels\MailChannel to know how the mail message is built in more detail since we won't discuss mail sending in this dive.

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By Mohamed Said

Hello! I'm a full-stack web developer working at Laravel. In this publication, I share everything I know about Laravel's core, packages, and tools.

You can find me on Twitter and Github.

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