Category: Community

php|tek & our community

May 24th, 2009 — 8:33am

This past week I was fortunate enough to attend this year’s php|tek PHP conference up in Chicago. It was four days packed with some great PHP-related content and included two major events for the PHP community – a “standrds session” and a meeting of several core developers of the language to hash out some standing issues face-to-face. The week saw a nice blend of both sessions related directly to the language an more periphery topics like MySQL tuning, project management and version control systems.

In the midst of all of this, there was something else I saw that, I have to admit, slightly caught me off guard. See, I’ve been a part of the PHP community for years now and I’ve seen some of the good and the bad along the way. Last week I saw something that gave me hope about the community and the future of the language – I saw that PHP (and its community) is growing up.

Back when I first started out in the community, PHP wasn’t taken quite as seriously as it is now. Sure, there’s those that dismiss it as “one of those languages” that’s not ready for anything more than small sites or little jobs. The truth is, PHP is running lots of major sites out there and running them very well. A shift in perception like this is all well and good but, especially with an Open Source language like this, there needs to be the people there to back it up. Lots of the other languages have corporate backing to keep them going, but PHP is in a strange place. Zend, the company most people associate with PHP, is not a direct supporter of the PHP project. They provide resources (and some of their staff) to help work on the language, but it’s not a direct involvement as a “sponsor”. Instead, PHP relies on the strength of those in the community to support it through those good and bad times and to help it weather any major storms that might come its way.

At php|tek, through all of the sessions and after-hours activities (oh yeah, we like to party), I could still see people stepping up to fill in spots that were needed. You could see it in the leadership of the core development team, in the community support both from countries here in the U.S. and overseas and, most importantly, in the words and actions of long-time members of the community willing to take the steps needed to get the community flowing. I’ve seen these people come from humbler beginnings – some joining the community after me – to become a strong foundation for the rest of the group to build on.

PHP’s future is bright with this solid crew at the helm. To all of you who have made and are making PHP and its community what it is today, I thank you.

Comment » | Community, PHP

Slides for my php|tek talk: “No Really, It’s All About You”

May 22nd, 2009 — 11:29am

I’ve put my slides for my framework presentation from this year’s php|tek conference – “No Really, It’s All About You” comparing CakePHP, CodeIgniter, Solar and the Zend Framework – up on Slideshare:

Unfortunately, no one was there to record the resulting “discussion” that came from the questions after – heh.

6 comments » | Community, PHP, Presentation

A Shinier New

February 16th, 2009 — 3:03pm

In one of my previous posts I mentioned a little pet project I’ve been working on. I had an initial version out the door and things were working pretty well. It needed a little something else, though. The layout was functional, but not so easy on the eyes. I put out the call to see if there was anyone out there that might want to lend some time to giving the site a bit of a touch-up and, thankfully Jan Sorgalla answered the call.

He’s been working over the past few weeks on a new look and feel for the site to bring it up to that next level. Personally, I think he did an excellent job in both integrating some of the flow of the previous version of the site with a better styling to make the site more usable.

Development on the site is still continuing and more new features are in the works. The system is open to any events, not just PHP-related, out there that might want to have make their lives easier by letting attendees give the speakers their feedback directly.

Check out the new site!

4 comments » | Community, PHP

Branching Yourself

November 8th, 2008 — 10:38am

If there’s one thing I don’t understand about programming communities (online and average joe coder on the street) it’s the competition that’s everywhere. Sure, I can see how there’ll always be the zealots that think their language can do everything. Well, I hate to break it to you guys but there’s just no such thing. Every language has their own feature set and their own strengths. There’s not one that’s going to work in all situations.

Repeat the mantra after me: “Use the right tool for the right job”.

Now, I’m a PHP developer so my views are a bit slanted that way, but I’ll be the first to admit that there’s things that the language just isn’t good for. I like to get feathers ruffled as much as the next guy, but there comes a point where you just have to concede. PHP is excellent for web development – it makes creating sites easy and there’s some great frameworks built on it but there are things it just doesn’t do well. Other languages like Python and Ruby are a bit more modular and, according to what I’ve read, and do a lot of the same things for the web that PHP does. There’s one thing to remember, though – it’s not really about what they do that’s the same, its the differences that matter.

You a Ruby developer can argue with the PHP developer all day long on how one handles objects versus the other or the “dumb syntax” that the other uses, but remember the mantra. There’s things that Ruby does that PHP just doesn’t do well and vice versa. Focus on these other things – that’s why you choose one language over another.

Don’t let your language choice get the better of you and put blinders on – expand your horizions! Don’t be afraid to check out other languages/technology/etc. You might actually learn something in the process that can make you an even better developer than you are.

9 comments » | Community, PHP

Direct Feedback is a Good Thing:

November 5th, 2008 — 5:08pm

So, a few weeks back Keith Casey and I were talking about conferences and feedback. One thing we both (and various others that happened to be in the #zendcon IRC channel at the time) agreed on was that paper slips and verbal polls just aren’t the way to go when it comes to providing feedback to speakers on how they’re doing.

Automation is the way to go – bring the attendees directly back to the speakers and let their voices be heard. Obviously, a web site is the medium of choice and so I present to you provides the missing link between the people attending a conference and the ones that presented. The usual method of handing out paper forms is outdated and needs to be replaced. That’s where we come in – attendees can post their comments directly to each of the talks they attended, giving the speaker direct feedback on how they did and what they can do to improve. also has something to offer the speakers – you can track your record across the conferences and see how changes in your talk might have made a difference in your ratings.

Things are still running in beta mode right now as I work out some of the kinks with both the code and with the interface (any designers that want to help out and contribute a few ideas, drop me a line), but I’m hoping that this can become a great asset for the speaking community – and not just the PHP one.

The idea is to make it as open as possible to allow for conference planners from any topic to come in, add their events and talks to get direct feedback from their attendees.

Here’s a list of a few of the stats for the site:

  • It runs on the CodeIgniter framework
  • It allows for “stubs” for conference names (ex. for PHP Appalachia ’08
  • Speakers can “claim” their talks from each event and see how the same talk did at various events
  • The commenting system supports both public (viewed by all) and private (viewed by speakers and conference admins) comments

I am always open to suggestions about the service, so if you have comments either leave them on this post or submit our contact form.

5 comments » | Community, PHP

Dallas PHP User Group on Twitter

October 14th, 2008 — 11:25am

My local user group (the Dallas PHP User Group) has added a twitter account to its list of contact methods. Meeting updates and other random group-related bits will be posted there.

If you’re a PHP developer in the Dallas, TX area, head over and follow us on Twitter to keep up with the latest.

We have a meeting tonight at the usual place with a presentation from Adobe. They’ll be talking about their technology for Rich Interfaces (like Flex and AIR) and combining them with the Zend Framework. Danny Dura will be presenting. The meeting starts at 7pm – hope you can all attend!

Comment » | Community, PHP

ZendCon08 and the PHP Community

September 18th, 2008 — 5:23pm

Day four of this year’s Zend/PHP Conference and Expo has finally come – we all wish it could have been just a bit longer. There was tons of stuff jammed into this year’s event, both in the sessions and activities outside the conference hours. These four days went too quickly for me as it was one of the very rare times that I can sit with the people I talk about and with every day online and just have a beer and shoot the breeze. I have the user group at home that’s fun to go to and I always learn a lot there, but there’s just something different about getting to meet up with developers you know, ones you don’t and people you might never get to see (or not for a long time) because of where they’re from.

See, that’s what these events are really about (or should be about). Yes, the sessions are good – it’s nice to listen to people go one about scalability and security techniques, but what’s really at the heart is the community that the conference inspires. You can walk down the halls and see it. People getting introduced to other (“oh, you should so meet…”) and groups just standing around and talking about things, PHP related and not. It’s was even there at breakfast when people would get their abnormally small coffees, a bagel and sit down with people they may not even know and start talking. During these past four days, we were all equals – it wasn’t about what you know so much as the fact that you were willing to sit down and share a part of you and your experiences with another person.

Unfortunately, there’s only so much time and so many resources to go around and we all have to head home sometime. For some it’s just up the road but others are quite a bit further away than that (and even some, further than that). The people we met and discussions we had start fading away a little bit and those business cards in our pocket become more of “that person”.

I wish there was a way that we could keep this kind of connectivity going even when we’re home in our familiar houses and offices. It’s just not that easy, unfortunately, but the effect can be lessened. Stay in touch with those people! Send them emails asking how that project they mentioned to you is going! Get them in contact with other people you know who could help them out.

It doesn’t matter if you came to the conference and really only met one or two people – stay in contact with them. These conferences (and really the same things applies to user group meeting too) are not just things to come to and sit in rooms all day, isolated in your thoughts. You can take online classes if that’s all you’re looking for. Conferences/meetups/coffee with other developers is about the networks – building those links between you and other people that love the language you love and that can be a huge help if you might need it.

Don’t feel left out if you didn’t get to ZendCon this year – it’s just one of the many many great conferences happening this year. Can’t make it to a conference? Look for a local user group! There’s bound to be one in your area (and if there’s not, look at starting one up). You don’t even have to make it out to events if you don’t want to. I recommend coming over to the IRC network and hopping in on the #phpc channel. There’s tons of great people in there and it’s just fun to talk with other developers about anything and everything.

It’s all about the community.

Comment » | Community, PHP

Why do you use PHP?

September 6th, 2008 — 10:46am

A little while back I asked this question on Twitter. I was interested in how other people’s first experiences with PHP compared with my own. I got some great responses – from funny to completely honest. Here’s the list:

  • Skoop: I didn’t choose PHP, PHP chose me (nice, very zen.)
  • Andriess: low entry barrier, and the AWESOME community
  • Felixdv: great community, open-source spirit and low barrier but powerful if needed (as of PHP5 ;) )
  • DragonBe: in PHP I found my likings, where as Perl left me hanging about..
  • Rmehner: Mainly because of deployment issues in the beginning. PHP was everywhere available. (In the beginning I had often web projects)
  • lvtrll: The options at the time were PHP or ASP… which would you choose? =P
  • ijansch: it was the logical choice (or, to be more precise: it gets the thing done, and quickly.)
  • njames: its “FREE” no need for mucking about with licences for VS or IIS or W2K or MSSQLSRVR etc etc #php
  • weierophinney: out of necessity.
  • padraicb: At the time (1999) PHP happened to coincide with the activities of friends online – seemed natural I’d help them cut and paste ;)
  • iephp: I used to do Java and Perl and a friend of mind told me PHP was easy and fun. I tried it out, turned out well ;)
  • akrabat: Wasn’t that much choice back in PHP3 days. Perl / CGI didn’t appeal and the only other choice on my host was PHP…
  • jlleblanc: someone suggested it in college and it was easy/inexpensive to get into.
  • sweatje: My Unix admin pointed me towards LAMP when I was looking for a free alternative to IIS/ASP for a home business accounting system
  • chartjes: My first job out of college needed a web site and had no money to pay for licenses for Windows server (this is 1998)
  • ramsey: Switched from ASP to PHP b/c I didn’t want to learn ASP.NET, Tomcat was a bitch, & PHP had everything we needed built in (& more)
  • calevans: because upgrading from NT to Server 2000 was going to cost me $15,000 + hardware.

I think I got them all, but if you didn’t get to contribute, definitely leave a comment with your first introductions to this great language of ours!

17 comments » | Community, PHP

Enterprise PHP (the Magazine)

June 1st, 2008 — 2:53pm

Opening my mailbox yesterday welcomed me with a brown paper envelope addresses to “Herr Cornutt” and postmarked. I was confused since I wasn’t expecting any bit of German to be coming my way. I was happily surprised, though, when I opened it to find the free issue of Enterprise PHP, one of the newest offerings into the PHP magazine category.

The publication is from the IT Republik folks and is a nice looking magazine. It comes in at about 50 pages but it has a good ad to story ratio so you don’t feel slighted. Stories include:

  • Test ‘em all! (by Sebastian Bergmann)
  • Worlds apart… (by Patrick Lobacher covering PHP intagration and SAP systems)
  • an interview with Jens Paul Berndt about decisions regarding PHP
  • a case study of the Fiat Group SpA’s use of PHP in their systems
  • and the cover story, “Java is not PHP”

The quality of the articles if good – it’s interesting to see their use of so much clip art as illustrations. I suppose its due to the different audience than some of the other magazines. It’s less about the development and more about the high-level thoughts and processes behind PHP in business – how it can function in their corporation (or small business!) and what sorts of considerations need to be made. The articles are good quality and keep consistent with the tone of the magazine. The quality of the printing is nice too (always a plus) and the thicker pages make the “enterpriseness” of it all feel even better.

Oh, and let’s not forget about two articles by Cal Evans of the Zend Developer Zone! One covers several of the popular PHP frameworks and the other about how PHP security has advanced in the past few years.

If you get a chance and want to check out something a bit different in PHP Magazines, head over and grab a trial issue of this newest addition to the PHP publication world. Here’s hoping we’ll see great things from them!

3 comments » | Community, PHP

Book Review: Beginning PHP and Oracle (Apress)

May 13th, 2008 — 3:54pm

The nice friendly people over at APress sent me a few new books the other day, one of which is “Beginning PHP and Oracle: From Novice to Professional” by W. Jason Gilmore and Bob Bryla. Of the three, I was most interested in this one as a possible resource to hand off to other people in our company (the Oracle developers, specifically) for them to get started with PHP. Thankfully I can say that, after going through the book, it looks like an excellent fill to bridge the gap between most Oracle developers and the world of PHP.

If you’re a PHP developer, pick up your copy of the book and follow my lead – set the book, spine down, on the table and stick your finger right in the middle. To your left is all of the PHP knowledge you’ve already learned and to your right is a wide open range of Oracle goodness just waiting for you to soak it all in. The first half of the book is an excellent introduction to PHP and can be handed to that special Oracle developer in your life who would like to get to know the language. The usual topics are there – the basic syntax, functions, arrays, object oriented programming, PEAR and lots more. If you’re just going in for the Oracle/PHP combo, you’ll find a lot more than you were asking for (which can be good and bad).

Things switch around at about the Chapter 26 mark where the first hints of Oracle start to show. This is where a lot of the Oracle developers out there can tune out a little more. The first few Oracle chapters deal with setting up and getting to know the Oracle environment, how to use views and transactions. Things get interesting when PHP jumps back in, though. PHP and Oracle developers alike can learn lots here.

Starting from Chapter 32 on, the rest of the book is devoted to the happy union of PHP making requests via the Oracle drivers to a local database (they use a local copy of Oracle Database XE in their examples). They include examples using transactions, generating a table of results with PEAR’s HTML_Table and using views and triggers in your application.

This book works well for both audiences – the PHP developer wanting to learn what all the fuss surrounding Oracle is about and the Oracle developer looking for a peek into the world of the web’s most popular web development language. There’s a little something here for everyone (there’s even a chapter on web services!) and it will be finding its way to the desks of several Oracle devs around here that have been bugging me to show them “that PHP thing” they’ve been hearing about.

Something a little more substantial – the Table of Contents:

  • Chapter 1 Introducing PHP
  • Chapter 2 Configuring Your Environment
  • Chapter 3 PHP Basics
  • Chapter 4 Functions
  • Chapter 5 Arrays
  • Chapter 6 Object-Oriented PHP
  • Chapter 7 Advanced OOP Features
  • Chapter 8 Error and Exception Handling
  • Chapter 9 Strings and Regular Expressions
  • Chapter 10 Working with the File and Operating System
  • Chapter 11 PEAR
  • Chapter 12 Date and Time
  • Chapter 13 Forms
  • Chapter 14 Authentication
  • Chapter 15 Handling File Uploads
  • Chapter 16 Networking
  • Chapter 17 PHP and LDAP
  • Chapter 18 Session Handlers
  • Chapter 19 Templating with Smarty
  • Chapter 20 Web Services
  • Chapter 21 Secure PHP Programming
  • Chapter 22 SQLite
  • Chapter 23 Introducing PDO
  • Chapter 24 Building Web Sites for the World
  • Chapter 25 MVC and the Zend Framework
  • Chapter 26 Introducing Oracle
  • Chapter 27 Installing and Configuring Oracle Database XE
  • Chapter 28 Oracle Database XE Administration
  • Chapter 29 Interacting with Oracle Database XE
  • Chapter 30 From Databases to Datatypes
  • Chapter 31 Securing Oracle Database XE
  • Chapter 32 PHP’s Oracle Functionality
  • Chapter 33 Transactions
  • Chapter 34 Using HTML_Table with Advanced Queries
  • Chapter 35 Using Views
  • Chapter 36 Oracle PL/SQL Subprograms
  • Chapter 37 Oracle Triggers
  • Chapter 38 Indexes and Optimizing Techniques
  • Chapter 39 Importing and Exporting Data
  • Chapter 40 Backup and Recovery

Comment » | Community, PHP

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