Another year, another ZendCon. I think I've been to every one since 2008, except for one where they moved it to San Jose for a year. Either way, it has become a staple conference that I look forward to each year, and this year was no exception.
ZendCon 2015 was held not in its normal home of Santa Clara, CA, but this time in Las Vegas. I think the years of attendees complaining about the lack of anything to do around the venue in Santa Clara, as well as the venue itself, helped push the idea that the conference should move. I didn't hate the old venue, but there was no good space to hang out near the conference rooms, and there was a huge lack of things to do unless you had access to a vehicle.
That said, it was never a big enough deal for me to not want to attend. I've been speaking at ZendCon since 2012 as well, which is awesome. They were the first conference to take a chance on me, and I've been eternally grateful.
The New Digs
As I said, this year the conference was held in Las Vegas at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino. While the hotel isn't directly on the Strip, it was close enough to get to the many attractions with either a taxi ride or a walk, depending on how much you love walking. The hotel itself had plenty of restaurants to chose from with excellent food, and there was obviously a casino there. The final night I spent an hour or two playing Blackjack with my friends Jeremy Lindblom and Joe Ferguson and we had a great time.
As ombudsman of Wurstcon I sanctioned a #koshercon event, which was a resounding success. Except for the ride there were our taxi (an SUV with a lower-pressure tire and brakes that needed changing) had to speed to catch the taxi of @coderabbi, which was doing nearly 70mph. On the way back half of us somehow clown-car'd our way back in a Toyata Highlander.
Toyota, you should feel bad for saying your car seats six people.
My only major complaint, and I'd have this complaint probably at any casino, was the fact that the smoke was horrible. The only social places where people could sit were near the bars, and at this point in society where nearly everywhere is smoke free in public places, sitting in a smoky bar really grates on the eyes after a few hours.
I gave two talks - Into the ZF2 Service Manager and Single Page Applications with Drupal 7. The first talk went well, even if it was a nearly directly mirror of Gary Hockin's talk. We both came up with the same talk somehow. The talk itself went over well, which I was happy for.
The second talk went well, but the audience just wasn't there. I mean that literally. I had two people, one from a Drupal shop and another that was interested in Single Page Apps. This was a problem for not only be, but other Drupal speakers in general. Getting Drupal devs to ZendCon will be an uphill battle, as its quite expensive compared to a DrupalCon ticket or any sort of Drupal/Bar Camp that is available. Hopefully next year ZendCon will be on more Drupal dev's radar.
The talks I attended were excellent as always. Adam Culp and his team at Zend picked a wonderful group of speakers that covered a vast range of topics. Each hour was filled with interesting talks, and it was hard to determine one to go to.
I can't mention a conference without talking about the hallway track, and there was a great hallway track. Attendees were open and wanting to talk to each other, and I had many great conversations with new and old friends.
I had a great time, and I look forward to next year. While I enjoyed the new venue, I know that there will be many people that will think twice about attending a conference in a casino like this again, especially one where there were not social areas devoid of smoke.
If you've never attended, I highly suggest you look at ZendCon next year, and I look forward to attending again.