PHP UK Conference 2011

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Well it’s that time of year again where the UK’s PHP Developers descend on Islington Business Design Centre for the day to hear about the latest trends, technologies and hopefully expand some knowledge.

I was celebrating my new job title (Head of Technology for StylistPick.com) so was a bit late unfortunately… So I missed the keynote speech which was a bit annoying as I was looking forward to seeing Marco Tabini talk for the first time. Never mind!! I turned up in time for the first talk which I selected purely to see how PHP Developers see Mobile Development.

PHP in a Mobile Ecosystem – Ivo Jansch

I will admit, my hopes weren’t overly high to actually learn anything in this talk. It really was a curiosity to see how this talk would go after mobile became such a buzz word since Zend Framework introduced Device Recognition as a component. I was a little disappointed that the only handheld devices that were considered were smart phones which while very popular, are not in a majority as of yet to purely consider in mobile web and mobile web app development. While Ivo was correct in saying that some phones can be modified quite easily to run PHP natively, this is not something you could expect your customers to do and so the bulk of the talk to do with PHP was about building successful APIs. I think API development has been talked about a fair amount over the years… When it comes to developing native apps for phones, PHP only has it’s place as a third party part of your application. Device Recognition was called something else during the talk which I forget now, but I can assure you it has been called “Device Recognition” for many years as it’s correct term. I was also disappointed at Ivo’s lack of knowledge when it comes to testing for Mobile. There are more options than simulators and owning a gazillion devices. It’s called Device Anywhere and it works by this company connecting up these devices to servers and you remotely operating them. It’s a bulky piece of kit but invaluable for real testing. All in all, not overly impressed. More research was needed. Especially when suggesting HTML5 as a solution that will only work on the latest smart phones. Personally I would rather rely on TeraWurfl and cater for all. Oh yes, that reminds me. TeraWurfl was not mentioned once. A PHP library for Wurfl, surely a rather good contender to be discussed at a PHP conference especially as it does so much for you and is supported by the new component in Zend Framework 1.11. I guess working for a mobile content delivery company for nearly 2 years did a lot of good. PHP has been used for mobile development for a very long time before now. Should’ve asked me to talk about it instead ๐Ÿ˜‰

Agility and Quality – Sebastian Bergmann

I LOVED the start of this talk!!! Sebastian’s comparisons of Agile roles to world of warcraft was mainly well received. I don’t play WoW but was suitably amused. There were some who didn’t really get it but it didn’t overpower the talk so everyone was happy by the end of it. For those who don’t know, Sebastian Bergmann is the creator of PHPUnit, a unit testing application for PHP. One that I would wholeheartedly recommend. In my role at my current job, I am currently redesigning our deployment processes and continuous integration, this talk has given me a gazillion ideas and tips to really get this working well and in an efficient way. I think I have a date with Jenkins very soon!!

The InnoDB Storage Engine – Morgan Tocker

Ok, this was a bit of a boo boo on my part, I didn’t mean to go to this talk. I walked into the wrong room ๐Ÿ˜€ was a bit tired! I was intending to go hear all about continuous improvement in PHP projects. Oh well! It was actually really interesting to see how InnoDB works however though I’m not entirely sure I buy into saving everything twice JUST IN CASE it crashes… More research needed to have an opinion about this talk.

Beyond Frameworks – Stuart Herbert

OMG OMG OMG!!! As you might say on FaceBook. I have been droning on for ever about component based development and this guy absolutely in one hour said better than I ever have done, why it is so amazing. I could’ve jumped up and hugged him I was so happy! This talk was mainly a reassurance session that I am indeed correct in my thinking, but I also discovered that Stuart has done more research than I and hence his explanations for why we should use components was much more eloquent and actually some reasons he said that were very poignant, I’ll admit I hadn’t thought of yet! I was ecstatic and then depressed. How can I apply this to Magento. You betcha I’m gonna try! Blog to follow….

Advanced OO Patterns – Tobias Schlitt

I was quite looking forward to this talk. Tobias is a very engaging speaker and very animated on stage. I like this in a speaker so was very much paying attention. I totally agreed with his points about OOP and how it is a collection of ideas for solving problems we face in software development. Sometimes its good just to have this reiterated to you. I was impressed with his explanation of the shortcomings of certain patterns such as ActiveRecord and how OO should not be a tool to replicate storage systems. I would’ve liked him to concentrate on a couple of patterns with real life examples however rather than his rather theoretical approach to solving problems. However, all in all a good recap on how to implement some solutions and what OO patterns should inspire you to achieve.

I didn’t win anything this year, and there was again a lack of elePHPants due to a sponsor pulling out. But I had a great day. It was nice to catch up with some former colleagues and chums throughout the day and next year, I think we should sponsor and have a stall! I need more Magento Developers!!!!

**Addendum**

It has been brought to my attention that I’ve spoken about the talks, and not so much about the event. Let’s rectify that now!

The event was very well run and all the volunteers were incredibly helpful. I really like the venue and think it definitely works for a conference of this size. I really liked the way that the schedule was arranged with the results of a poll in mind so that a flow of the day according to our preference could be established. The stalls were a good mix though really not that many freebies this year…. Not that my entire purpose of being there was for freebies, but they are a fun part of the day! My only criticism will always be: “I want to replace my lost elePHPant!!! Where be the elePHPants!!!” ๐Ÿ˜€

7 Comments on “PHP UK Conference 2011

  1. I didn’t go, so it’s really useful to see a write-up. So far, I haven’t seen anyone else writing about the conference – in fact most of the people I know who attended don’t have any kind of blog. The rest don’t post very often. Sigh…

    Anyway, I’d like to hear more about some of these talks, especially Agile and Quality, and Beyond Frameworks. :)

  2. Actually, planet-php.net has a couple of the talks there – Beyond Frameworks, and Elastic Search :)

  3. Beyond Frameworks was a brilliant talk. Well worth looking at for sure!

  4. Thanks for coming along Kirstie, and good to hear what you thought about the talks you saw… but what about the rest of the event? :-)

    Dave

  5. Hi Kristie,

    thanks for your feedback! You complain i didn’t mention Tera-WURFL. Actually Tera-WURFL is just an implementation of WURFL, and I did mention WURFL on two occasions: I compared it to device atlas and I mentioned that it’s supported by ZF’s user agent detection. In my opinion Device Atlas both outperforms and outsmarts WURFL, which is why I spend a little more time on DA vs WURFL.

    The remark about me calling it ‘device detection’ is quite odd. I’m fine with it if you call it ‘device recognition’, but that doesn’t make it any less wrong. Some other projects call it ‘device identification’ but it’s all the same. In fact, you mentioned I should’ve used tera wurfl. Tera wurfl calls it ‘device detection’ too. From their FAQ “Tera-WURFL’s focus is high-performance detection of mobile devices” (the word ‘detection’ appears 15 times in their faq, recognition not once – please don’t compare what you’re used to hear in your circle to what’s out there in terms of vocabulary)

    I’ve tried to balance the content between 20% general mobile to make people think about how they should approach it (I did mention tablets and fridges here specifically as example that it’s not just about phones), 40% mobile web, 40% native mobile. I’m sorry if it came across differently.

    But I do appreciate the feedback and I will certainly incorporate some of your comments in a next version!

  6. Hi Ivo,

    Glad to see you’re scouting for feedback.

    A few points to perhaps clarify my original post:

    1. Device Recognition. In my experience, detecting user agents is only a part of the overall process of recognising devices and understanding and recognising their capabilities. I think the whole process of device recognition is an important one.

    2. Device Atlas. I think that as an introduction to mobile development, Wurfl is a very important topic to cover in more detail. I think covering TeraWurfl is very poignant due to the fact that it is opensource and a much better tool for developers to start playing with developing mobile capabilities in their products. Device Atlas restricts your updates and usage unless you apply for Enterprise or OEM which is less effective for testing and only viable in my opinion for established products which already have monitising capabilities.

    3. You fail to recognise my mention of Device Anywhere which while I would say that developers starting out in Mobile, this tool is overkill for you due to the cost. However it is a widely used tool in Mobile Development particularly for web and if we are going to cover paid services like Device Atlas, I think Device Anywhere has a place in this talk.

    I think perhaps due to the fact that I have commercial experience in delivering mobile web content (plus other aspects of aggregator integration etc) I think I may have without awareness skated over the good points of your talk and it’s important to note, I thought the talk was well delivered and had some useful information for developers considering a path into mobile as a starting point. I was engaged and if I didn’t know about mobile or have the mobile knowledge I do, I would’ve been inspired to start finding out more.

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