I got the chance to spend last week in Chicago for php|tek 2009, perhaps one of the premier PHP conventions in the US. Some of the most well known names in PHP were in attendance and gave some great presentations.
Among my time spent getting to know the PHP community and finally getting to meet the people I talk with on #phpc, I managed to attend a few sessions.
While I wasn't present for the tutorial days, I was there for the main body of the conference. Andrei Zmievski, after being released from captivity, assured us that at some point PHP6 will be released and will contain some great features (granted, Sara Golemon showed us exactly why PHP 5.3 is going to be the next big thing to look forward to with features such as lambdas, smarter garbage collection, and other things that are as cool as velociraptors).
From there I attended Christian Wenz's talk on Ajax testing and the tools that can be used. I wanted to hit up some of the talks that would help me out at work, so from there I listened to a talk by Mike Pavlak about running PHP on the IBM i brand of servers (who knew that PHP was a first class citizen on the i?). Stefan Priebsch gave some pointers on how to build an MVC application, I listened to Wez Furlong give a great talk on getting things done by using the Scrum method of application development planning, and I finished out the day listening to a talk by Chris Shiflett on security centered design and common mistakes that sites make in their assumptions with user security.
I rounded out the day by listening to Michelango van Dam give a great Uncon talk about using PHPUnit for Test Driven Development.
My second day started off with the earlier mentioned talk by Sara Golemon on the new features in PHP 5.3 (my opinion - I cannot wait until PHP 5.3 arrives). After that it was a talk by Derick Rethans on K.I.S.S (Keep It Simple Stupid) design tips for web applications, Jason Sweat on common design patterns for use on the web, and then over to Paul M. Jones for a talk on organizing your web project (thankfully I'm doing it right on Kiroku and Congregate!). I got to see Rich Bowen talk about mod_rewrite, and I finished off my day attending to hack-a-thon (more on this in a later post). There I met Brett Bieber who works on the PEAR2 project who showed me how to start testing PEAR2, the new features it will bring, and even gave me a shirt!
Day three was the last official day of the conference. Sean Coates gave a talk about tokenizing in PHP and how to leverege it for a developers own use, Cal Evans gave a great talk on why telecommuting is no longer a perk but an expectation for PHP developers, and Terry Chay gave an empassion, funny, (and moderately curse filled) ending keynote on why PHP developers are engineers and why that is what makes us stand out in the crowd.
This day finished off with a talk by Paul M. Jones on why personal frameworks suck but are a natural right of passage, and Michelango van Dam gave a second Uncon about Continuous Integration.
My Quick Take
This years php|tek was even better than last years. Not only did I get to meet a ton of great people but I learned a lot more than I could have even hoped. The PHP language is poised to continue to be one of the best, if not the best, web language that there is despite opposition from Sun/Oracle's Java and Microsoft's .NET. PHP 5.3 and 6 are adding sorely needed constructs to the language that will do nothing but improve the quality of software that developers can write.
For all the crap that PHP takes, there isn't anything I can see in the upcoming releases that will make me want to switch.
I want to thank all the people that I met there, and if I left anyone off the list I apologize:
@enygma, @sweatje, @nateabele, @brandonsavage, @EliW, @tswicegood, @elazar, @DragonBe, @CalEvans (even if he doesn't remember me) and everyone else who I didn't catch their twitter handles or irc names.