September 28th, 2008 by Ivo
I'm usually not very late with a conference report, but last week's events kept me busy. With Leoni having to work a Sunday shift however, I have a day to clean up some odds and ends, so here's my report.
The day to day reports can be read on our company blog so I'll just give a more general opinion on the conference and pick two favorite talks.
In many ways, Zendcon08 was an improvement over Zendcon07 (which already was a great conference, but it's nice to see Zend was able to improve it even more). Most notable for me was that the community aspect was bigger than last year. The Uncon (sessions organized by the community outside the main conference) was more prominent and more popular, and featured several outstanding sessions.
Also, the evening events got a lot more visitors than last year. The Yahoo! party was generally considered to be less than last year however, mainly due to the fact that unlike last year, there was only one free drink and any drinks afterward had ridiculous prices. But the ZCE party on monday, the general reception on tuesday and the meet the team session on wednesday were very nice and I got a chance to talk to a lot of people.
The opening keynote was still a bit 'corporate', with Harold, the CEO from Zend talking mainly about PHP adoption in the enterprise and some case studies. I liked it, but 'enterprise php' is kind of my thing; I heard several developers say they rather have something more technical. Another way they made the conference less corporate was that they dropped the vendor keynotes they had in 2007. Since those tend to be overly commercial, it was a good idea to skip them.
My favorite presentation was "The State of Ajax" by Ben Galbraith. I hadn't expected that actually; from the title I thought it would be Yet Another Ajax talk, but it was very insightful and Ben did a great job explaining current and future trends. Most interesting thing I got out of it was getting to know Fluid, a 'site specific browser' that lets you treat webapps such as Gmail, Facebook, Google Calendar etc. as separate desktop applications with even nifty things such as Growl notifications or 'new mail' indicators in the OSX dock. I immediately installed it on my macbook and I love it.
My second favorite was Terry Chay's uncon session on 'Making Frameworks Suck Less'. I hope Terry will convert that into a real talk, as it was even better than his 'The internet is an Ogre' talk: this time he had a lot more valid points and he did a better job of getting them across. (On the other hand, if he converts this to a real talk, probably the charm of running it as an informal uncon session using just a flip-chart will be lost.)
The next conference I'm looking forward to is php|works where for the first time a PHP conference is combined with a Python conference. It will be interesting to see how that works out. But first I'll be visiting Microsoft's Professional Developer Conference in October. Although that is not likely to contain a lot of PHP, I was invited by Microsoft because they want to reach out to the PHP community (which was also obvious from their ZendCon presence), so let's find out what they have to tell us.
June 16th, 2008 by Ivo
The Dutch PHP Conference 2008 is over. Since I was one of the organizers, I'll leave reviews of the contents etc. up to others, but here's my look on the conference from an organizing perspective.
On friday, the conference started with a tutorial day. There were 5 tutorials: PHPUnit by Sebastian Bergmann, XDebug by Derick Rethans, Zend Framework by Matthew Weier O'Phinney, Symfony by Fabien Potencier and Stefan Koopmanschap, and Advanced PHP: Design Patterns by Dennis-Jan Broerse. The tutorial day was attended by 150 people.
The day started pretty chaotic; the van that contained the registration badges arrived late, so there was hardly enough time to prepare the registration desk, so we had a small queue, but eventually everybody got in. The other issue we had was that we had asked the venue to provide power because people would bring there laptops. We started off however with only 4 outlets per room, and with 30-40 peple in the room, that obviously is not enough. Luckily, before the first break we were able to get a whole cart with power supplies, which we hastily dropped in the rooms. It looked a bit like a cable jungle, but at least people had juice.
For the rest, the day ran smoothly and according to plan, we had a nice lunch around noon, and overall feedback on the tutorial day was good.
At 17.30, we went to the Werck bar where we had dinner with the Ibuildings crew and a bunch of Zenders (Matthew, Gaylord, Zeev, Steven and Howard). At 20.00, DPC conference people started showing up at the bar for the friday-night conference social. Dinner ran a bit late but around 20.30 we were able to join the other DPC visitors in the bar, just in time for the Netherlands-France euro2008 match. The party was great, the match was superb (NL won by 4-1), and the atmosphere was awesome. Speakers like Terry Chay and Derick Rethans were dressed up in orange (Terry even had created a custom orange shirt with php code on it) and we all had a great time.
At around 23.30 I went back the hotel area with Derick, Terry, Scott, Mike, Helgi and one of the phplondon guys who's name I can't remember. Derick and Terry walked back to their hotel and I had a last beer with the other guys.
I made some final adjustments to my slides for the opening address (which for some reason is more difficult after more than a couple of beers) and at around 1.30 I went to sleep. At 6 I woke up, checked if my adjustments were ok when sober, made some more changes, went over the slides for my afternoon presentation, and got prepared for the main conference day.
The main conference day went even smoother than the tutorial day. Registration was properly prepared and went smooth, everything was nice on schedule (with just a small exception caused by a crashing macbook right before the closing keynote), and I think we were able to organize a very nice conference (feedback is appreciated!).
We had some php|architect books for sale during lunch. We had about 50 books because we had no clue if people would be willing to buy them, but we ended up selling 45 books within the first 20 minutes. We will bring a little more next year.
An interesting observation was that the PHP Women had trouble getting people to take their promotional shirts. Where at the PHPLondon Conference they were gone before they knew it, in Amsterdam the men were a little hesitant to wear a shirt with the word 'women' on it (by the way only 1% of the DPC audience was female, which is startling). Together with Matthew Weier O'Phinney I was selected as the girls' official 'Booth Babe', a kind of supporting role with a special edition of the shirts, but I got some really weird remarks on that. I think the phpwomen have to change their marketing to cater to a continental european audience or at least to get the men involved. (Suggestion: s/babe/hunk; babe is usually only used for the female version over here).
When the conference ended, there were drinks and snacks in the lounge, giving people the opportunity to discuss the presentations and talk to the speakers.
And then the day ended with a final speaker's dinner, and that was the end of the Dutch PHP Conference 2008.
There are already over a 100 pictures on flickr, which give a nice impression of the conference.
I'm already looking forward to organizing it again next year! (mark June 12 and 13 in your calendars!)
May 26th, 2008 by Ivo
Having returned from php|tek, I nearly forgot to post the last entry in my series of reports from the conference.
Since I had been discussing with people until 1am the night before the last conference day, I couldn't wake myself up early enough to view the first session, although I really would've like to see the session named 'Angering Database Gods' just because of the title. I did see the second session, which was done by Digg's senior developer Eli White, who did a talk on 'High Performance PHP and MySQL scaling techniques'. It was an interesting overview of scaling techniques. We're using some of them, and it's interesting to see that even though Digg operates at a much larger scale, the same scaling techniques are often used.
Next, I had a nice talk with Marco Tabini and Elizabeth Naramore, the publisher and editor of my upcoming 'Enterprise PHP' book, about its release. We're going to do some fun things for the release (hopefully around the Dutch PHP Conference), more on that when the time comes.
Then, I attended the second to last talk by Brian Shire about APC at FaceBook. The talk was a detailed overview of APC and its features, the only issue was that from the back where I was sitting, most of the slides were a little hard to read. (Brian, please add an 'about' page or at least your name somewhere to your blog, I had a hard time finding it and still rely on links on other sides to see if I got your blog url right )
At 12.15h, Terry Chay closed the conference with his 'The internet is an Ogre' keynote. Terry perfectly demonstrated why his keynotes are usually listed as 'explicit', and talked about Stability, Scalability, Speed and Security and the importance of handling those in this exact order. Terry has an open mind, and asked that if people would disagree, to post their opinion online. I agree to most of what Terry said though, but I also agree with Ed Finkler who noted that this depends a lot on the type of application you build. Not everyone builds a Tagged, a Facebook or the next Twitter (there will be a next twitter, mark my words), and for many apps, these 4 S's come in a different order. Also, I think the part on Security wasn't so much on security but about extending the application ('making it rich'). Naming this 'Security' seems a little far-fetched.
In particular I liked what he said about Rails, how it tries to solve the wrong problem for many websites: Rails saves time during the initial development, even if this is only, say, 10% of your total cost and you're really interested in scalability and speed. While it sure is fun to bash Rails (and that's one of the things we love Terry for), I think this is true for many frameworks, or even programming languages.
In any case, Terry is a great speaker and the keynote was very humorous. If you missed the presentation, he's also doing it at the Dutch PHP Conference in Amsterdam next month (arranged your flight yet Terry? )
(Oh, and it was nice to hear Terry talk about the 'kung fu' experience that most first-time ruby users have. I had that Kung Fu experience once, but while I said back then that I would start to use Ruby, 2 years later I still haven't. Which is saying something.)
And that wraps up 5 days of great fun. I agree with Ben Ramsey's post that in particular the conference was great community-wise. The way it was set up, with lots of breaks, lunches and evening socials, helped foster the community at the conference and everybody got a chance to meet many new people.
I'll make sure to attend again next year! (note to self: keep an eye on the Call For Papers before you miss it again. )
May 23rd, 2008 by Ivo
Thursday at php|tek started off with a keynote by SugarCRM's co-founder Jacob Taylor. Although Jacob is a seasoned speaker, it wasn't as interesting as I would've thought. It was more or less the success story of SugarCRM, and it even contained some slides to introduce PHP. I think with an audience consisting of developers that are usually not very much involved with CRM software and who know PHP's history, it would've been a better presentation if it had focussed on the technical aspects a bit more.
After the keynote, I visited Jason Sweat's talk on 'Test Driven Design'. It was an interesting presentation, demonstrating the SimpleTest test framework, but the talk was more on development than on actual architectural design.
Next up was Scott MacVicar, with a presentation on SQLite3. Although SQLite has been around for a while, a lot of developers haven't worked with it, so it's very useful to have an introductory session like this at a PHP conference.
After Joe's keynote, I remained in the Grand Ballroom to watch Greg Beaver give his talk on Phar. I haven't worked with phar yet (a method to deploy applications as a single file in a so-called 'PHp ARchive'), but it sounds very useful so I'm definitely going to look at that. I was amazed to read on Greg's blog that he's never done a PHP presentation before. That is pretty weird for a guy who's done so much work on PEAR and phpDocumentor. In any case, he did great and his presentation came across very natural.
The last presentation I attended was Maggie Nelson's presentation on database migration. She presented methods for maintaining two-way database patches, and the use of SVN to make patch management easier. I think this is an important topic, as deployment often only covers source code files, but the database is just as much a part of the deployment process as the code.
In the evening, there were 2 parties. First, Mashery had a Pizza party at the 11th floor of the hotel, which was attended by a lot of people so it kind of was like a sauna in there. The pizza's were unfortunately rather exactly the same as during lunch (same caterer) but as they were good pizza's, we still had a nice diner. Second, there was a party hosted by Zend in the Grand Ballroom, with some snacks and free drinks (for about an hour only unfortunately, after which prices went up to their old 8$ a bottle insane hotel pricing scheme). This party was attended very well too.
During the party I had many conversations with old friends and new friends, tasted a very nice Scotch that Scott had brought along, and a weird (but tasty) licorice/wodka drink that Hilmar Hallbjornsson was passing around, and had a chat with Oracle's Christopher Jones about PHP, Oracle and other things.
Around 22.00h the party had ended, but Eric David, Shahar Evron, Andrew Culver, Gennady Feldman and I remained in the grand ballroom and had a very interesting discussion about religion, politics and science. With 5 different nationalities represented and 4 different religions (if you count atheism as a religion), this was a very interesting talk, which went on until 1am even (so we had to snatch Marco's water bottles which they had left unattended, in order to not dehydrate. ) The discussion featured interesting IT metaphors such as "praying is like a communication bus with each religion having its own protocol" and "reincarnation requires a stack because the number of souls is not constant". 5 people with different backgrounds but with one thing in common: IT and PHP. It's nice to see what interesting discussions come from that.
At 1am, I noticed on twitter that people were still hanging out at Homeless Joe's, but since I have to fly back later today, I thought it would be better to get some rest.
Today is the last day. I had the honor of announcing a partnership with php|architect, and in about half an hour Terry Chay will close the conference; but more on that in day 3's report.
May 22nd, 2008 by Ivo
Yesterday the php|tek conference officially started.
Andi Gutmans, co-founder of Zend, presented the opening keynote. He started by responding to the news about the lay-offs in their R&D team. I already blogged about this response yesterday so I won't go into it again.
The rest of Andi's keynote was the more or less standard 'current state of PHP' which, if you don't follow the PHP news too closely, is a nice overview of what's going on in PHP and Zend land.
Next, I visited Stefan Priebsch' session called '50 reasons to use PHP5'. I thought I already knew most of the reasons to switch to PHP5, but Stefan managed to come up with 50 distinct reasons. Pretty impressive. If I hadn't already switched a long time ago, Stefan surely would have convinced me with this talk. I mainly wanted to see Stefan as he will be speaking at our Dutch PHP Conference in June, where he'll do a talk on what's new in PHP 5.3 and PHP 6.
The next talk I planned to visit was Paul 'KISS' Reinheimers' session on maintaining statefulness in Ajax applications, but the room was so crowded that people even sat on the floor, so I went back to 'the corner' to check up on e-mail and had a chat with Elizabeth Naramore, the editor of my upcoming book.
Then we had a nice lunch buffet with various types of food but unfortunately no brownies this time.
After lunch, I skipped a few sessions to go to Hopeless Joe's with Chris Shiflett, Elizabeth Naramore, Luke Welling, Christian Wenz and Cal Evans to celebrate Chris's birthday and watch the final of the European Champions League. Our CEO at Ibuildings is a big Manchester United fan so I had to be in favour of Manchester, and after a long match that ended in penalty kicks, they won.
We got back just in time for Scott MacVicar's talk on image manipulation with Imagick. Seam Carving is an interesting technique for scaling images while retaining the interesting parts, and always works well in presentations. People who haven't seen it before are usually awed by it, as was the case in Scott's talk.
When the last talk was over, we went back to Homeless Joe's to have diner, during which Terry Chay arrived on the scene who demonstrated he's about as passionate about anything as he is during his talks. I'm looking forward to his closing keynote tomorrow.
Next up was the Rockband Contest. This was awesome. Geeks rocking like crazy, and a crowd going wild at a contest presented by Paul Reinheimer, dressed for the occasion. This evening got a lot of pictures on flickr that people would probably not want any future employer to find. (oh, and finally Scott managed to launch the elephpant with a parachute from the 10th floor of the hotel; evidence will probably shortly be posted on the tek08 flickr stream.)
The evening ended with a visit to Harry Canary (or at least a bar that sounded vaguely like that), and when a few people went over to Shoeless Joe's to continue the party into the night, I finally went to bed.
It was a great day!
May 21st, 2008 by Ivo
Today is the first day of php|tek 2008. Here's a short review of yesterday, the pre-conference tutorial day.
In the coffee break, a whole case of PHP Elephpants (Oracle edition) had been kidnapped. Sean Coates and Paul Reinheimer, in charge of handing them out, at first didn't even notice they were napped. 'Wow, we already gave away all our elephpants.'
Around noon we had a nice boxed lunch which contained a nice turkey sandwich and a brownie. I love brownies! During lunch, more evil plans involving elephpants were drafted. If you love your elephpant, keep it safe in your hotel room today.
After lunch, I couldn't decide if I wanted to listen to Luke Welling talking about social networks or to Sebastian Bergmann on Selenium, so I ended up not going to either, but instead hang out in what has informally been dubbed 'The Corner'. An interesting observation is that PHP geeks, when put together in a room, seem to have 2 communication ways going on simultaneously. Some actually talk, some just chat on IRC, some do both. Pretty weird sight sometimes.
When the tutorial day ended, arrangements were made to go out for food. Ligaya Turmelle showed natural leadership and made a reservation at a local pizza place, for 15 people, at 18.00h. Morgan Tocker bribed the hotel's airport shuttle into driving us to the pizza place, with a little more people than expected: we managed to cram 26 people into a 15 people minivan (someone took pictures but they're not up on flickr yet). Everything went fine, and the pizza place was a little overwhelmed that we were not only 26 instead of 15, but also an entire hour early. We also seemed to have left 2 guys behind at the hotel, who had to take cabs, but eventually we had a very nice dinner.
A lot of beer, ale and Chicago pizza's later, the hotel shuttle came back to pick us up.
Back in the hotel, plans were made to visit Shoeless Joe (rebranded to Homeless Joe or Shameless Joe by the tek attendees), a bar across the street. To get there, you have to play 'live action frogger' (crossing a 6 lane busy highway). I planned to join but instead was invited by Marco Tabini and his php|architect partner Arbi who were just going out for dinner, so we could have a chat (about Top Secret Stuff that I'm not allowed to talk about just yet ). As I was still stuffed with Chicago pizza, I had a beer and a nice chocolate desert (I love chocolate!).
When I got back to the hotel, I went online to check where everybody was at, but actually fell asleep during the process (I'm still not entirely on Chicago time).
And now it's about 8am; time to get ready for the official opening of php|tek 2008 by Andi Gutmans.