Dutch PHP Conference Experience

Meet Ghica van Emde Boas. Ghica is one of our Dutch members, herself a published author. She attended the Dutch PHP Conference in Amsterdam last weekend, and was generous enough to donate three signed copies of her own book which went to assist some of the local ladies in their learning. Here is Ghica’s account of her day:

The Dutch PHP Conference, Amsterdam, June 14th, 2008
A prime example of Women’s Strength in Unity can be found in Athens: six Caryatids holding the roof of the Erechtheion temple on the Acropolis. That is where I took my PHP elephant to be photographed to fulfill my obligation for receiving one. I was yelled and whistled away few times trying to take the picture because it was apparently forbidden to put the elephant down anywhere, not even on a fence.

Elephpant in Greece

In the Greek sun Amsterdam sees far away two days later. What is it that survived this distance in my memory from the PHP conference? First of all, the relaxed atmosphere and the feeling that being one of the very few women did not matter.

PHPWomen.org had a great presence at the conference and the number of T-shirts worn was growing steadily during the day.

To my surprise, most speakers acted as if PHP still had to prove itself to the world. Sneering at Twitter and Ruby-on-Rails was the favorite sport of the day. Because unsuitable design for the task can be done in any language, the PHP community is just fortunate that it was not PHP that was used, otherwise PHP would have been laughed a just as much. At similar Java events, this type of discussion seems past, in favor of discussions about design patterns, frameworks etc.

Zeev Suraski
Of course I knew that Rasmus Lerdorf first developed PHP, and that Zeev gave the first two letters of his first name to Zend, but I did not know the details of PHP history he was telling: the real PHP resulted from a student project. Now I know.

It is always interesting to see people on stage who made a definite mark on the computing landscape and Zeev is certainly one of them.

Zeev was also talking about development trends: Simplicity makes a comeback. The opposite of simplicity seems to be J2EE (more speakers were referring to J2EE as an example of ways you can torture developers). He quoted that PHP was the second most popular project in Eclipse. His examples of Rich Internet Applications (RIA’s) are Facebook, Wikipedia, Flickr and Digg. He said that PHP is currently not well equipped to develop RIA’s. Zend is partnering with Dojo, a well known Ajax toolkit, therefore this may change soon. The thing to watch according to Zeev is cloud computing, which I understand to be a mixture of SOA and dashboards.

Software and the taste of mayo, Marco Tabini, publisher php|architect
Twenty years ago, I used to do that: making mayo from olive oil, eggs and lemon juice. These days you are not supposed to eat raw eggs because you risk a salmonella infection. After hearing today what commercial mayo contains, I may reconsider :-) Further, I know now that PHP cannot be used to calculate the first 100 million prime numbers and that you can write bad code in any language.

Marco said that you should think big at design, choose the right tools and scale everything, always. And with lots of hand-waving statistics he made plausible that there is a range of characteristics for a site: adsense, add driven, subscription or e-commerce – where there is also a range of page clicks you need, to become profitable. The cost per page click should be in-line with this. I still do not know what Mayo is.

eZ components, Derick Rethans
This was an overview of eZ Components. What I got out of this talk is that I should look into this framework. Derick was stressing that their persistence strategy is not derived from the active record pattern, like Rails (Twitter…), but from Hibernate (a Java persistence framework).

PHP Deployment with Subversion, Lorna Jane Mitchell
This was a very clear overview of what you can and should do with Subversion. As a daily user of Subversion, I knew the concepts, but it was useful to hear advice about making deployment plans and rollback plans, preferably automated. I realized that I did not consider DB versioning for a project I am working on, where I maybe should have done so. And there was more useful advice, such as reference to practical deployment tools.
I liked to see a real Nabaztag! Can’t they talk also? I knew about them, because of a volunteer project where they are using them in children’s hospitals to let parents communicate via the internet.

PHP 5.3 and PHP 6 – A look ahead, Stefan Priebsch
What is going to be new in PHP 5.3 and PHP 6?
Garbage Collection
SPL improvements: double linked list, stack, queue, priority queue
Namespaces: with lots of discussion, Stefan didi not seem to like the current plans.
something about magic calls and about late static binding.
ereg will be deprecate in favor of preg
There was a lively discussion because there were some people in the room that were closely involved with PHP development.

The Internet is an Ogre: Finding Art in the Internet Architecture, Terry Chay
We were warned that we would get fireworks, and indeed we got fireworks. The essence of what he was saying was about the pyramid-like layers that internet sites have and that you should observe when developing a site: start with stability and look at security lst.
make it rich security
make it fast speed
keep it running scale
make it work stability
Sound advice. The movie snippets Terry used were funny. The language he used was not.

After the last talk there was a reception and we all received a PHP Conference T-shirt. I ran away to catch my plane, my suitcase heavier with two books: PHP design patterns and PHP security, very useful. And my head full with interesting PHP impressions. Thanks PHP Women, for inviting me!

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One comment on “Dutch PHP Conference Experience
  1. ilja says:

    The interview with Lorna Jane Mitchell about PHPwomen.org is online :)

    It is also been picked up by Devzone: http://devzone.zend.com/article/3624-Lorna-Mitchell-of-PHPWomen-interviewed-at-DPC


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