PHPNW10 – An Overview

I had a fantastic time at phpnw10 this year. Met loads of old friends, and made a few new ones. The main conference kicked off on Saturday morning with a keynote by Lorna Mitchell entitled “Teach a man to fish”. This was about how team training is important with proper feedback mechanisms which enable a developer (and a team) to learn from their work and give them the skills to teach themselves further. Following that I went to see Derick Rethans giving a talk on geolocation within PHP. This gave me a great insight into how geolocation/mapping works online and has given me some food for thought for my MSc. After, I headed back to the main track to see Ian Barber speaking about debugging. I find that this is the sort of talk I can’t get enough of, and discovered a couple of cool new tools to help with debugging on top of the existing ones I already use.

After lunch I saw Michelangelo Van Dam talking about unit testing within ZF. Like everything with ZF, it seemed a lot easier than I thought it might be. Then there was another ZF talk in the same room by Rowan Merewood who, as always, gave a rather entertaining talk. It was about Zend_Acl and used real-world examples (ship classes from Star Trek) to demonstrate how they work.

Scott MacVicar gave a really interesting talk on HipHop for PHP, allowing PHP code to be compiled. He went through the process of using it, what the current limitations are and the plans for the future. As this was Scott, heckling was aplenty, and made this talk very enjoyable! Then it was back to the main track for the final session: The Framework Shootout, a panel session chaired by Marcus Deglos. Although there were no definitive conclusions that came out from the panel, it was very interesting to see different people’s take on things, and the strengths and weaknesses of a variety of frameworks.

Overall it was an excellent event with excellent attendance! However we have a bit of a dilemma now. We have reached the capacity of this venue. This means that if we want to expand we will need to find a new one. If you have any thoughts/ideas/recommendations on not only venues around Manchester, but how we can expand further to increase the impact of the PHPNW group, please let me know! Finally I would like to thank Jeremy Coates and all the helpers on the day, the event ran fantastically smoothly and it was all down to you, thanks everyone!

PHPNW09 Conference

What a thoroughly enjoyable (and tiring) weekend I had at PHPNW09. Met many people from last conference/test fest, and many new people as well. On top of the drinking, socialising, networking, eating side of things, I actually saw some talks as well! So I thought I’d post a quick run down of who I saw.

The keynote speaker was Kevlin Henney who was a great speaker, talking about uncertainty when undertaking a project and when coding/debugging, and how to deal with these uncertainties. He was enthusiastic, interesting and kept the delegates engaged throughout! After the break was my good friend Lorna Mitchell giving a talk on the Joel test. Although I’d heard of the Joel test before, I hadn’t really looked into it, nor had I realised how it would apply to me (as a lone developer). Lorna soon set me straight with her talk.  Following her was Rowan Merewood from PlusNet talking on “Tools and Talent”. He was highly amusing throughout, certainly one of the funniest talks I have ever seen at a conference. Then lunch!

The catering was excellent, and we were all well fed and well up for more in the afternoon. Rob Allen kicked off the afternoon talks with his talk on the process that he goes through with his company when they get a project. This was one of the most insightful talks of the session, and it was fascinating to see how these things happen, and how it is all managed. After Rob was Derick Rethans who spoke about his php extension Xdebug. This was great as I have been using Xdebug for a while now, but I always wanted to learn how to use it better, and his talk definitely showed me how to get more out of this great debugger!

After some more refreshments I went to see Steve Richardson talking about the relatively new Yii framework. This looked very quick and easy to set up, however I think I will stick to Zend Framework as it seems more flexible and has a larger number of features. The last real talk of the day was by Scott MacVicar, who is always a laugh. He got badly heckled (which at this event was to be expected). Scott spoke about getting involved with various areas of the PHP project, from documentation through to core development. Finally for the Saturday was the closing session, and this featured a demonstration from Microsoft of Expression Studio. They took everything in good humour (this is Microsoft talking at an open-source conference) and even included Star Wars imperial force jokes. Their product looked very impressive (up until the point it stopped working), but I couldn’t help but feel they’ve completely over engineered something that is meant to be simple, rough and ready.

That was it for the main day talks, had another good meal then hit the bar for drinks courtesy of Sun Microsystems (although they were nowhere to be seen). Had a very enjoyable evening talking with some very interesting people from the PHP community, and then went home to try and sleep off the alcohol ready for my talk the day after. On the Sunday morning I saw Juliette Reinders Folmer giving a fascinating and insightful talk on UTF-8, and I learnt a lot about this format of text, and how it is the way of the future. Finally, we went off for more drinks (and food)!

On the whole a really enjoyable weekend, learnt many things and spoke to some great people. Thanks to everyone who was there!