PHP North West Conference Review

Dangerously close to going the whole of November without a blog post so I thought I’d catch up with a quick review of the PHP North West conference last weekend.

London has had a conference for a number of years so it was about time there was one up here so myself and Andy made the trip into Manchester to take part. The conference was organised by a few people from the PHPNW user group but it was better run than most “commercial” conferences I’ve been to.

Welcome Keynote: KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid) – Derick Rethans

I must admit I wasn’t too impressed by this. At times it came across as a bit of a rant towards certain technologies without going into details about when they might be of use. For example sIFR was shown with a buggy version of AdBlock where it didn’t show any headings – yes, potentially a problem but for some it may be worth the risk.

MySQL EXPLAIN Explained – Adrian Hardy

Very good session giving an overview of how to use the EXPLAIN command to find out what MySQL is doing and help optimise your queries.

Regular Expression Basics – Ciarán Walsh

Basic introduction to regexps. I’m still looking for a text editor that supports perl style regular expressions in a logical way – Notepad++ does very odd things with line endings.

Index and Search, options for PHP programmers – Zoe Slattery

I think some people were expecting more of an introduction on how to use Lucene to add a search engine into your site but I found it really interesting.  My two take-home points:

  • Lucene on Java + JIT is 50 times faster than Zend Lucene!
  • Java Lucene has a cool standard analyser – picks out things like email addresses and company names like “AT&T”

The Power of Refactoring – Stefan Koopmanschap

We should do more test.  Really.

Twittex: From idea to live in 7 days – Stuart Herbert

Following Twitter’s announcement that they’d be stopping SMS delivery of updates to UK users, Gradwell spent a week working on a system to fill the gap.  The result maybe wasn’t as popular as they’d hoped but the experience seemed invaluble.  It’s a lot like Bath Web Services’ Get Creative Week.

Panel Discussion: State of the community – Ivo Jansch, Steph Fox, Scott MacVicar and Felix De Vliegher

The conference ended with a panel discussion.  Maybe not of immediate relevant to the work we do but everything talked about with trickle through.

I’ll leave it at that.  Congratulations to the organisers on a great event.

Image by skoop.

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