One of the nice things about conferences is getting to meet people that you’ve only talked to online and meeting those you’ve never talked to before. No matter what, though – at a PHP conference – you’re just about guaranteed to meet someone you’ve heard of or read something online by.
A few of us were sitting around at the hotel bar tonight and the comment was thrown out (thanks Elizabeth) about how small the PHP community is. Not in the number of people in it, but in how it feels. Several other communities have their divisions and factions all around the world, but it seems like the PHP community has bridged those gaps and seen its way to making more of a unified whole. A little while back (on Ben Ramsey’s blog I think) there was a mention of another conference attendee that found it amazing that he was sitting at the same table with “the cool kids” of the PHP community and that they were just like any other developer.
In my opinion, it’s things like this that make the PHP community one of the best out there. It’s just as large as any of the other language groups on the web, but it still manages to keep that feeling of closeness that others have lost. The community pulls together to help with projects on the language (like the upcoming PHP 5.3) and with pushing their own applications to their limits. People offer help and, sure there are times of disagreement and code gets tossed out, but overall, the PHP community is a pretty friendly place.
It’s a place where the people you read about in daily blogs (like Chris Shiflett, Wez Furlong, Sara Golemon, etc) aren’t these “higher developers” off doing their own thing away from the rest of the community. They’re right there with the rest of us, hacking at code and fixing those bugs to help make PHP’s slice of the web an even happier place to be.
If you happen to be at this year’s ZendCon (going on now) don’t be afraid to jump right into the conversations. As the speakers questions – trust me, they love ’em – and get to know others in the group here for the week. Not only could you make connections with other developers that live all over the world, but you could make some good friends in the process.