PHPNW09 Round Up

Last weekend Janeth, Andy and Simon (from Business Systems Solutions) headed over to Manchester Conference Centre for the second Annual PHP North West Conference. Organised by volunteers from the PHPNW user group it has a great community feel to it yet has a great reputation.

A few thoughts about some of the sessions I attended…

The Uncertainty Principle – Kelvin Henney

Nice start to the conference and a well presented talk.  Main thing I picked up was that when presented with a choice you may not have to make a decision immediately.

Passing the Joel Test in the PHP world – Lorna Mitchell

Lorna Mitchell’s talk looked at how relevant the Joel Test is to PHP development.  We have some way to go before we pass completely and it’s something I’ll be looking at over the next few weeks.

Tools and Talent – Rowan Merewood

Plusnet’s Rowan Merewood gave a really good presentation about how they go about developing and deploying new tools.  I was a little preoccupied finishing my own talk so I’ll be interested to take another look at the video.

Making your life easier: Xdebug – Derick Rethans

I’ve been aware of Xdebug for a long time, and I may have even tried it out but this talk showed some of the nice ways it can be used.  Probably worth us having another look at deploying it on our development server.

Building an Anti-CMS – Michael Nolan

That’ll be me!  Think it went okay – a few suggestions for improvements on but it could have gone much worse!  You can see a slidecast of the talk on another post.

Integrating Zend Framework and symfony – Stefan Koopmanschap

Skoop’s talk covered how Zend and Symfony can be used together.  We actually already do this – our search engine is powered by Zend Lucene – but there’s probably more components we can use, and some of the new Symfony components look like they have potential.

Everything you wanted to know about UTF-8 – Juliette Reinders Folmer

Maybe a little too detailed for 10am on a Sunday morning, but interesting to see how difficult this problem is to solve.

Intro to OOP with PHP – Rick Ogden

Pretty basic introduction to OOP but we often forget that not everyone learns this stuff so it was good to see.

PHP 5.3 – Hot or Not? – Sara Golemon

If PHP 4’s unwillingness to die is anything to go by then 5.3 may take a while to adopt widely. There’s some nice features though and if they’re required for a future version of symfony then it’s well worth us starting to make use of them.

jQuery – Michael Heap

We use jQuery pretty extensively as part of GO and our corporate website so I understood most of the code demonstrated but it was nice to see how to create plugins.

That’s all for my quick round up of PHP North West 2009.  Overall a very good event.  Thanks must go to Jeremy, his team at Solution Perspective Media and Lorna Mitchell, without whom the conference wouldn’t happen.

Building an Anti-CMS

At last weekend’s PHP North West Conference I delivered a talk titled Building an Anti-CMS (and how it’s changed our web team).  Feedback has generally been pretty positive so I thought I’d open it up to a bit of constructive criticism from inside the sector (because every web team reads our blog, right?!).

Video from the talk itself is due out within the next month but I re-recorded some audio to turn it into a slidecast to make it a bit more useful:

I’ve given a number of talks before at Edge Hill, at BarCamps and at IWMW but for PHPNW I’ve tried to further develop my style of presentation. Over the last 6 weeks I’ve watched quite a few “Lessig style” talks – making use of lots of short sentences and pictures and not being afraid to have nothing on the screen.

It leads to a massive slidedeck – 86 slides for 13 minutes – and there’s far less room to ad lib but it gets away from some of the things that annoy me about regular death by powerpoint. I’ll let you make up your own mind whether it’s worked!

PHP North West Conference 2009

PHPNW 2009Last year, Andy and I attended the first Annual PHP North West Conference.  Well it’s back for PHPNW2009 next month – Saturday 10th October with extra stuff happening Friday evening and Sunday morning – at the Manchester Conference Centre.  This year there will be a few of us attending from Web Services allowing us to cover more of the conference sessions in more detail.

I also found out a couple of weeks ago that my session proposal was accepted so I’ll be speaking about “Building an Anti-CMS (and how it’s changed our web team)”.  What exactly this consists of will be decided on a two hour train journey to London next week but the abstract obviously sounded good!

As with last year, they’re offering concession tickets to students so I recommend anyone studying Web Systems Development or other Computing courses try to head over to Manchester and check it out – there’s a load of well known speakers (and me!) covering everything from PHP frameworks (Zend, Yii and Symfony all covered) to tools to programming best practices.

If you’re at Edge Hill and are going let me know and I’ll catch you in Manchester!

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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.

PHP North West Conference

phpnw08 PHP Conference 22/11/2008London has had a PHP conference running for a number of years – Andy and I attended the last one in February this year – but there’s not been anything up North so far. That’s all about to change with the creation of PHPNW and the announcement of the first (of many?!) PHP North West Conference to be held in the conference-centre-formally-known-as-GMEX (Manchester Central) on Saturday 22nd November.

Lorna Mitchell does a much better job of explaining it than I could:

Lorna Mitchell – PHP North West from oreillygmt on Vimeo.

Something that might be of interest to our students is that there will be a number of concessionary tickets available so keep an eye out on the conference website for when tickets are released.

I also popped into Manchester on Tuesday to go to the PHPNW meetup – a chance for PHP developers from across the region to get together and chat.  This time as well as a quick update about the conference, there was a short presentation about version control systems.  This is something we already do using subversion but it was interesting to see nontheless.

Anyway, it’s good to see the North West tech community continue to grow and I’m looking forward to going to PHP North West Conference 2008.