Posts Tagged ‘phptek’

Spring ’09 Conference Roundup

It seems as though the tech conference season starts off every year with SXSW in Austin, comes to a peak in May, then takes a vacation until September. So far, this year has been no different. I recently had the opportunity to attend three conferences within four weeks of each other. A small taste of each follows…


Back in February, I began seeing tweets for JSConf on April 24th-25th: the first conference for JavaScript developers. I recently began digging into JavaScript for more than simple effects in jQuery so this sounded interesting. The venue was a mere two metro stops away from my apartment, so I knew I would be kicking myself if I didn’t go.

JSConf absolutely blew me away. The sessions were not simple “here’s how to use jQuery for form validation in your next project” talks. These were the first presentations I saw of JavaScript being used for backend programming as well as frontend. There were speakers representing Objective-J/Cappuccino, Dojo, jQuery, YUI, CouchDB, Titanium, and many other projects. This was also the first I had seen a formal presentation on BOSH and XMPP.

Although there were the presentations about using JavaScript in the backend, the current mainstream use is in the front. Consequently, most of the attendees had expertise in languages other than JavaScript. JSConf managed to get Ruby, PHP, Python, .NET, and other developers in the same room. This really made the conference for me: we were forced to talk about our tools without hiding behind fanboyism.

Another highlight of JSConf was running into Chad Auld and Ozgur Cem Sen from the MiaCMS project. MiaCMS is a fork of the Mambo codebase that has some promising features developing. The JavaScript for the entire codebase has been rewritten in YUI. MiaCMS also sports a REST-style interface you can use to do things like update your site from an iPhone.

Aside from the incredible technical content, the accomodations and after parties were fantastic. Chris and Laura poured a lot of effort into putting this and thought of all the details. They made sure that outlets and wifi were plentiful. The venue they picked was just the right size for shuffling between sessions, uncon talks, hallway tracks, and break room hacking. They even organized a “significant other” track where spouses and children were able to tour DC and Old Town together.

There may be some who would say that this was great for a first year conference; I thought it was amazing for a second or third year conference. I know first hand how difficult it can be to pull off a tech conference, but Chris and Larua passed with flying colors. The sponsors were also incredibly generous and helped the event shine. Looking forward to JSConf 2010!

WordCamp Mid-Atlantic

While people may know me as “the Joomla! guy” in the DC tech community, I’m currently happily using WordPress to power this blog. WordPress is the best tool for doing a stand-alone blog, which is what Design vs. Develop has become. So I felt this was as good an excuse as any to show up for WordCamp Mid-Atlantic on May 18th. (On the other hand, Keith has never used WordPress and simply attended to steal ideas.)

WordCamp Mid-Atlantic (with the rather long Twitter hashtag #wordcampmidatl) was a nice mix between sessions about writing, marketing, and coding. A couple of big announcements from SixApart and the WordPress core team hit that day (TypePad Connect and WP 2.8 beta respectively). The venue was accessible and well-suited for formal talks as well as hallway tracks.

I applaud Aaron’s decision to move the event from DC to Baltimore and refocusing it as a regional conference instead of a city-centric event. DC’s tech community is now much more firmly established than 3-4 years ago. While it would have personally been more convenient to have something located in DC, we’re definitely at a point where we need to connect talent regionally as well as locally.

While the vast majority of the people attending were WordPress users, many were also proficient in Drupal, Joomla!, and other PHP-based systems. The recurring conversation seemed to be that we like using WordPress for straight-up blogs and simple sites, then reach for something else when we want something more involved. Although WordPress is billing itself as a publishing platform as well as a blog, I think we’ll continue to see people using different platforms for different sites. It’s gotten to the point where most are using WordPress for very simple sites (just pages with content), but using something else when integrated shopping carts and forums are wanted.


Finally, I flew out to Chicago for php|tek ’09. The guys over at MTA are seasoned conference organizers, with this event being no exception. There was a wide variety of talks: from using XMLReader, to alternative databases, Zend Framework hacks, and even an unconference session on PHP-GTK. As many have commented, php|tek is a nice blend between the PHP developer community and business community.

We had a hackathon where people were writing PHP tests for TestFest, but somehow I was convinced to write patches for Phergie instead. Ok, so I was sitting at the table and was curious more than anything. Phergie is an IRC bot maintained by Matthew Turland that hangs around #phpc on Freenode. It’s quite a non-traditional use of PHP: you have a long-running process that essentially sits in one big loop. It was nice to sit down and write some code purely for fun :)

Aside from the hackathon, you can read about the events and what I thought of them on I didn’t get around to rating all of the sessions I went to, but most of the sessions seem to have been ranked by at least one person.

Unfortunately, the wifi was a bit of a wash. I ended up paying for the hotel’s package the first day as I had some side work that needed to go out ASAP. The other days I was usually able to connect, but had difficulty during the hackathon and in the back rooms. However, I think most of the issue with wifi at conferences is the sheer number of heavy Internet users all hitting the same access points at once. As I’ve been telling everyone I meet, Apple should pioneer “conference mode” where you tell your laptop to stop doing backups, software updates, and any other non-crucial network activities.

The biggest announcement at the conference was that php|works, usually held in the fall, will be revamped as CodeWorks 2009 and held in 7 cities (not all at the same time!). It will be an affordable, two-day conference held on a two-week, cross-country tour. I’m planning on going to the one here in the DC area.

In addition to MTA’s CodeWorks, StackOverflow DevDay will be held later that month. More tickets have been opened, so it’s not too late to register!

Avoiding Joomla! Pain – March 13th

This coming Friday at 1PM Eastern US time, I’ll be giving a talk about Avoiding Joomla! Pain. Recently, I’ve been running into PHP programmers tasked with maintaining Joomla! sites they didn’t set up. Some dig in and get busy, while others become frustrated when things don’t work the way they expect. In this talk, I’ll go over a few things to help you get a handle on how Joomla! works and how to extend it.

Fortunately, you don’t have to be anywhere near DC or even buy a ticket: it’s a part of the php|tek 2009 free webcast series. You must register to see the webcast, but registration is free.

If there’s something about Joomla! you’ve always wanted to know but have been afraid to ask, let me know in the comments and I’ll work it into the talk.