January 31, 2012

PHP Benelux 2012 – 4 days of awesomeness

PHP BeneluxI was extremely pleased that I was invited to talk at the annual PHP Benelux conference in Antwerp. It was my first time in Antwerp, but I have heard about this conference so much before. And I must tell, all of it was true.

The arrival

But starting from the beginning, which was the landing of PHPNWAir plane (as named by Michelangelo van Dam) with a representation of 7 people from British PHP NorthWest Community (including 3 speakers – Rowan Merewood, Jeremy Coates and me) in Brussels Charleoi. And yes, I do admit it was a poor choice of mine to decide to fly Ryanair from Manchester to this airport. Connection is bad, it’s about an hour drive from Antwerp, and if not the help from PHP Benelux crew (namely @DragonBe and @Martin1982) we would be in trouble. So I am sorry once again guys, I won’t do it again! 😀


From then on I will only guess what heppened next, as I have problems recalling what happened on what day. Speakers dinner was an amazing opportunity to meet the conference crew and speak to the other speakers. A rare occasion indeed. Some of them I already knew from previous conferences like PHPNW, PHPUK and 4developers, but some of them I had the pleasure of meeting for the first time, face to face. There is nothing better, then speaking to other experienced developers at a conference, truly amazing and unique experience. How often you have an opportunity to meet people like @derickr, @weierophinney, @rdohms, @davidcoallier, @dzuelke, @joshholmes, @h, @DragonBe, @skoop and @ianbarber in one place at the same time? And that’s only a short list, cause I could go and go and go naming them one after another!

The conference was executed perfectly! I couldn’t be looked after better even by my own mother! @ThijsFeryn@DragonBe@Martin1982 and the rest of the crew – it’s a massive thank you from me! Sponsors did great too – @ibuildings and @engineyard responsible for the afterconference socials helped a lot with maintaining the spirit and helping everybody enjoy the conference to its very limits! We had so much fun bowling on Friday night (and yes I won!) and watching @juokaz and @dzuelke competing – whether it was about which phone is better or who’s better at Kinect Tennis! Can’t deny the fact that beer tasting session and Belgian fries and spécialités also helped during that day.

The winter BBQ, well… it was bloody cold, but again the beers, liquors, hot food and @Orchestra_io scarf helped to survive the evening. We even managed to go for a pizza to Antwerp late night when we got hungry! Some people even managed to come back in a car’s boot!


But conference it’s not about fun, but first of all about learning. And hell yeah, there was a lot to learn! I have seen a number of talks (and shamefully missed a few ones for reasons I am not gonna mention here ;)).

I’ll start with @dzuelke‘s  “Large-Scale Data Processing with Hadoop and PHP”. David is always an inspiration for me – an excellent speaker with really good talk. This one definitely gave me a few ideas how I could use Hadoop in my daily job. Hopefully I will find some time to come up with some prototypes.

Helgi Þorbjörnsson also gave a solid talk on “PHAR, the PHP .exe format”. While I already knew a few things about phar, he definitely managed to mention some interesting things about phar I didn’t know before. I really liked the way he engaged the audience. Really good idea!

Rowan Merewood and his “Estimation or, “How to Dig you own Grave”” was another great performance. Nothing new for me there (well, we worked together for a number of years), but I always admire Rowan for his slides and the way he talks. A true masterpiece.

Matthew Weier O’Phinney’s “VIM + *nix Toolchain == PHP IDE” definitely inspired me again to come back and learn a few new things about vim. Inspirational speaker with a lot of charisma!

“PHP traits, treat or threat?” by Nick Belhomme was the talk I really wanted to see since I really didn’t have any time to look at PHP 5.4. While the talk was a bit chaotic at times for me, I still learned a lot about traits, and as of now, I know one thing – I don’t think I like them and I don’t think I will use them – it’s more of a threat for me. They seem to be too messy.

You could tell Marcel was nervous during his “The lust for knowledge and experience” talk. But still it was a good talk with very good professional slides. It was a chance for me to rethink a few things about the relations between “the master”, “apprentice” and “a junior”.

Finally, the best talk of the conference from David Coallier “Taking it to the next level”. I absolutely loved the way he did his talk and how he engaged the audience. He only made me realise how rarly we tell other how much we appriciate their work and how we all take the work of others for granted. Thanks you very much for that David!

My software metrics talk

At last I’d like to thank everybody for attending my “Magic Behind the Numbers – Software Metrics In Practice” talk. I am really glad, that more and more people are looking at improving the quality of their code and want to learn more about it. I was impressed with the fact how many people in Benelux are using tools like PHP Depend and PHP Mess Detector! Keep it up guys! Thank you very much for all the feedback. I’ll definitely use it in the future to improve my presentation and make it more interesting. You can find the slides from my talk on slideshare.


I will definitely do my best to come back to Antwerp next year, but until then I hope to see you next month in London at PHPUK 2012!

1 Comment

  • A high usage ratio of PHP Depend and PHPMD in Benelux is interesting and sounds good, but why are there so less bug reports, feature requests etc.? I would love to see more user engagement, to improve both tools.

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