Sub-Minute and Cron-less Scheduled Tasks in Laravel


June 16th, 2020


The Spatie team released two new packages around scheduled tasks: the laravel-cronless-schedule package and laravel-short-schedule. While these packages have different use-cases, we thought they were related enough to share them in one post.

Typically the native Laravel scheduling gives you enough flexibility for most apps; however, these packages provide both an excellent development flow and advanced features when you need to run scheduled tasks more often than every minute.

Scheduled Tasks without Cron

The laravel-cronless-schedule package uses a ReactPHP loop to run the scheduler without relying on cron. If you’re developing locally, the “cron-less” scheduler could come in handy to run scheduled tasks without setting up cron:

php artisan schedule:run-cronless

According to the documentation, “This command will never end. Behind the scenes, it will execute php artisan schedule every minute.”

Freek Van der Herten explains in his blog post, A package to run the Laravel scheduler without relying on cron, why you should consider using this package in your development workflow:

If you want to run the scheduler every minute in a local environment, using cron can be cumbersome. I bet most developers will never have touched their local crontab. There’s also launchd, which can work great, but it’s not as easy as just running the artisan command that spatie/laravel-cronless-schedule provides.

On Windows, cron doesn’t even exist (I’m not an expert, but there you should use the Windows Scheduler). And on Docker containers, cron mostly isn’t available.

This package avoids all the platform-specific scheduling issues, and also includes some useful flags:

# Run the scheduler every five seconds
php artisan schedule:run-cronless --frequency=5

# Run a custom command
php artisan cronless-schedule:run --command=your-favorite-artisan-command

# Stop running the scheduler after x seconds
php artisan cronless-schedule:run --stop-after-seconds=5

As an aside, I wrote about Running the Laravel Scheduler and Queue with Docker that runs the scheduler command in a separate container. However, it can be a pain if you want to run the scheduler docker container in development selectively.

You can find the source code for laravel-cronless-schedule on GitHub at spatie/laravel-cronless-schedule.

Laravel Short Schedule

The second package Spatie released is laravel-short-schedule, which enables running the Laravel scheduler at sub-minute frequencies. Similar to the cronless-schedule package, it uses a ReactPHP event loop.

Here’s an example of what you can do with this package by defining a shortSchedule() method on an app’s console Kernel class:

use \Spatie\ShortSchedule\ShortSchedule;
protected function shortSchedule(ShortSchedule $shortSchedule)
    // this command will run every second

    // this command will run every 30 seconds

    // this command will run every half a second

Like the native Laravel scheduler, you can schedule commands to run between two times and avoid overlapping tasks if a task is still running.

You can learn more about this package by checking out Freek’s blog post: A package to schedule Artisan commands at sub-minute frequencies. You can find the source code on GitHub at spatie/laravel-short-schedule.

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Paul Redmond

Full stack web developer. Author of Lumen Programming Guide and Docker for PHP Developers.