Month: November 2008

Branching Yourself

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.


Direct Feedback is a Good Thing:

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.