PHP North West 2013 Conference

October marks the calendar for one of the biggest PHP conferences in the UK: PHP North West in Manchester. 2013 was no exception. This year, PHPNW was held at the Manchester Conference Centre, about five minutes from Manchester city centre.</p>

Unfortunately I had to miss out on the tutorial day on the Friday, as I didn’t get to Manchester until the late evening. I traveled with a lot of the regular attendees of the PHP North East user group, who made up a few percent of the PHPNW delegates this year!

Day One

The first conference day opened with a keynote from Lorna Mitchell and Ivo Jansch, which was a technical feat given the keynote was split between two rooms and the speakers co-presented it via video link across the two rooms. It was then onto “Easy HTTP Clients with Guzzle” by Nathaniel McHugh, who described how he used Guzzle in his day job at Plusnet (the famous suppliers of good, honest broadband from Yorkshire).

After a break, it was onto “Wrangle Cross-cutting Concerns with Event Driven Programming” by Chris Saylor, who introduced a new, non-traditional way to working with PHP. This talk was then book-marked by lunch.

After lunch, it was on to “Your (coding) standards matter” from Volker Dusch. Volker went over various tools to improve the standard of PHP written by teams, and bucked the notion that Germans don’t have a good sense of humour as he had the room guffawing on more than one occasion.

The next talk was “A resource orientated framework using the DI/AOP/REST Triangle” co-presented by Richard McIntyre, and Akihito Koriyama from Japan. This talk introduced the “BEAR.Sunday” framework, which took a new, Eastern-thinking approach to PHP frameworks. Of course, the question on every one’s lips was, “Where did the name came from?” The answer: Akihito had previously written another framework, aptly named “BEAR.Saturday”.

The day was then well rounded off with a smooth, flawless, entertaining and educational talk from Ross Tuck: “Models and Service Layers; Hemoglobin [sic] and Hobgoblins”. This talk was perfect to finish the day off, going over many schools of thoughts of how to organise your model layer and what should live where.

Day Two

Unfortunately I arrived late on the second day, and missed the opening address and first session. But looking at the three talk options, I think I would have opted for Volker Dusch’s second talk of the weekend, title “Vertical reusability through components”. Code can always be organised in better ways, so it would be good to know how other developers organise their code.

The first talk I did manage to catch was “Unbreakable Domain Models” by Mathias Verraes. Although not related to Ross Tuck’s from the previous day, it was a really good complimentary talk to Ross’s. I enjoyed listening to Mathias and his approach to how he organises and writes his domain models. Small components, small value objects, and enforcing constraints for invariant data.

Day two is traditionally only a half-day of talks (and a wise choice given day one ends with a free bar), so the weekend of talks was rounded off with “Making PHP go fast” from Dan Rathbone of Sky Bet. This talk took me back to a past life of when I worked for a gambling company as a web developer. The code examples was similar: the gambling industry may not run on pretty, fully object-orientated code, but it works on code that works, which is all that matters when it comes to making as much money as possible. And some times, you need to sacrifice code that’s “pretty” for code that’s not so pretty, but can have considerable performance and speed gains.

Unfortunately I didn’t catch any free t-shirts with my face that were being slung across the room in the closing remarks this year but that was alright, as I was swiftly handed one upon arrival on the first day to replace the 2012 t-shirt I was sporting that day.

All in all, another great conference delivered by the team from Magma Digital, and I look forward to next year’s rolling around!