#PHPNW2014 Review

Saturday 4th / Sunday 5th October 2014. Manchester. Were you there?

Well, this year I was. I had wanted to go last year, but because I’m a massive noob, I didn’t book a ticket in time. And then they sold out. Such is life.

PHPNW2014 is only the second PHP conference I have ever attendeded. The first, for those interested in such things, was PHPNE2014 (thanks Jeremy!).

The venue was super easy to find – especially with uber-cool satnav Waze. Also, there was a huge multi-story car park about 100 feet away, so aside from their ridiculously small spaces with huge great bollards on either side, just waiting to damage my paintwork, the parking was ample. And at £2 for the entire day, a total bargain.

Saturday

The conference started in the packed main room – an auditorium setting, which with 400+ people packed in, felt a little cramped. However, the mood was vibrant and being that this was a Saturday, you could be fairly certain that the people attending actually care about PHP (and it’s ecosystem), as it was hardly an excuse to skive off the day job. Unless you work Saturdays.

Anthony Ferrara (IrcMaxell) took charge of the opening keynote, and delivered a really interesting presentation. I liked the mentions of Reddit especially – as that’s one of my favourite php communities – even if it can be fairly polarised. I also learned a few things about the history of the PHP community – GoPHP5 for example.

Immediately after the keynote I decided to check out the uncon. This was something I all but skipped at PHPNE, but this time I was determined to experience more of it.

There were some really interesting talks – I managed to get in:

I caught the uncon twice throughout the day, and I really enjoyed every session. Whereas in the main sessions the crowd were more mixed and varied, in the uncon room I got the sense that the skill level of the audience was more intermediate to advanced. I’m not saying that’s where I fit in, but rather, doing a talk to that audience must be different to a main room talk.

Big thanks to PHP East Midland organisers Antonis and Clinton for sorting out the Uncon.

I must comment on a couple of talks I really enjoyed. Firstly, Mike Bell’s talk on mental health in software development took a lot of guts. I also thought he nailed it. Great talk Mike, well done, and I’m thoroughly impressed you decided to do a talk as part of your recovery.

Secondly, Jakub Zalas’s talk on the Dependency Inversion Principle has already helped me improve my own coding. Awesome. And great use of the pebble watch to control the slides.

Just before dinner I caught Making Kanban Work For You by Jez Halford. A great talk to a packed room. Entertaining, interesting, and good use of the kitten pic 🙂 I learned my trello board system is like re-inventing a wheel two clever Japanese guys figured out, documented, and made a system out of many years ago. My trello boards === Kanbanned.

Dinner: was excellent, really nice bit of Salmon and fresh veg. Super surprising at the standard of dinner – and good brain food to boot 🙂

After dinner I checked out Debugging: Past, Present and Future by Derek Rethans. This guy is super, super smart. He invented Xdebug. A little fun trivia – Xdebug dumps are orange because Netherlands. I did not know this. The rest of the talk was highly technical and interesting. It definitely left my mind a little fried though.

The last talk I caught was Implementing Server Side Data Synchronization for Mobile Apps by Michele Orselli. Again, another technical talk – and I have to admit, I couldn’t take it all in. It was interesting, but being the last talk of the day, my mind was already pretty full. Conceptually, it was very cool though and an interesting approach to solving real world problems in a modern PHP & mobile project.

Then I went home… no free bar for me.

Sunday

Sunday started in an interesting fashion. I was late to the party as I had to do some last minute nappy changing on my little girl. Unfortunately this meant I walked in to a hugely packed room where Everzet was giving the presentation I was most looking forward to out of the whole conference. It wasn’t even standing room only – it was maxed out.

So, instead, I went to PHP: Under The Hood by Davey Shafik.

The previous two talks on Saturday had left me fried, but feeling refreshed and raring to go, this talk was perfect. It was indepth, technical, and full of stuff I had never heard of before. So thats how PHP does its magic? Colour me impressed. I loved this one. Nerd out.

Next up was: “Should It?” – A New BDD Tool, Pain Not Included! by Richard McIntyre. Interestingly, this was pitched as an alternative to Behat. And in the room sat Everzet. Creator of Behat. Yikes. Tough crowd. However, the arguments portrayed where well thought out and I could really understand Richard’s points and frustrations. The dialog at the end of the talk between Everzet and Richard was awesome. Everzet is a super smart guy, and one who I have ultimate respect for, so to hear him and Richard debate was brilliant.

Last up for me was The Action-Domain-Responder Design Pattern by Tobias Gies. This is something I am really interested in – and if you are, I recommend this blog post for further reading.

Swag

I collected all kinds of bits and pieces. The Sky Bet stand gave me a big old bag of goodies – usb pens, pads, normal pens, stickers…

Magma came up trumps with a nice yellow screen cloth. Perfect as I keep losing my macbook one.

From inviqa I got an awesome Symfony beanie. Yes! So full of win.

Sponsors

The Sky Bet team stand out. Although I didn’t win their ipad, I did enjoy the banter. Also, the team at Data Sift are doing some interesting things and their product sounds awesome.

The Crowd

A great mix. As I mentioned at the start, the sort of person who attends a programming conference on their weekend must seriously enjoy their craft. And so, the crowd reflected this.

I met some really nice people – hello if you are reading 😉 And had a great time.

Minor niggles

Coffee / tea was not free flowing enough, only at organised breaks. A cup of tea is essential to keep me functional. I know there was a bar, but I’m not ordering tea from a bar like some rambunctious yahoo.

Sunday started too early. 9am starts and a free bar the night before? What is this madness.

tl;dr

It was awesome, see you at #PHPNW2015.