From May 18th to May 21st I was at DPC in lovely Amsterdam. The line-up for this conference promised a lot of interesting talks and good networking opportunities. So I had to go.
The speaker hotel for DPC11 was the ibis Hotel at Amsterdam Central Station. I considered staying there at first, but this was about 6km from the conference venue and (like any other hotel in downtown Amsterdam) it was quite expensive.
So I ended up in the CitizenM Hotel, which is a pretty fancy design hotel with rather small (no separate bathroom), but efficiently designed and quiet rooms. The bed was spacious and comfortable. Geeks will love the Philips mood pad that allows controlling various aspects of the room, like TV, blinds, air condition and lighting (including color). They also offer a huge list of free movies and WiFi is complimentary as well.
The RAI conference center was about 10 minutes walk through Beatrixpark from CitizenM. There is not much to say about the venue, which in this case means, it was well chosen. The WiFi worked well. The rooms were large enough to accomodate the PHP Crowd at the various talks. The main hall allowed for easy socializing. Some rooms were bit too cold at times.
I just might be a spoiled german here, but I was a bit disappointed by the catering. There was sandwiches, warm pastry and Hot Dogs for lunch, which I was told is pretty common for Dutch lunch. Unfortunately, the warm food was only available in very limited quantities. So, if you didnt get to the food stands immediately you were left with the sandwiches (which I wasn’t too fond of). The only good thing about this was you couldn’t fall into a post-meal coma and since I wasn’t there for the food anyways it’s just a minor complaint.
Prior to the conference, there was a full day of workshops. Attendees got a free copy of thePHP.cc’s QA book, which was a rather nice and very much unexpected gift, especially since I didn’t own that yet and had it on my wishlist.
I attended “XP Principles and Practices” by Sebastian Schürmann. I already knew the theory behind XP, but the workshop helped me deepen and solidify my knowledge and helped close some gaps. The presenter did a good job moderating the workshop in a way that encouraged active participation of all attendees. There was a tremendous amount of experience shared this way.
Conference Day 1
The main conference started with Aral Balkan’s keynote about “The Art of User Experience: making beautiful, delightful, fun things”. While UX might not be a too obvious thing to think about when you are in the bowels of a PHP backend, Aral delivered an absolutely stunning and professional keynote that got the argument across in an entertaining, enthusiastic and inspiring manner.
After the keynote I attended Oracle’s Christopher Jones talk about Developing and Deploying High Performance PHP Applications. The talk had an (expected) sales-pitch nature, but I found it valuable to get an overview of current and upcoming Oracle Techologies I might want to look more deeply into. As such, the talk wasn’t so much about “How” but about “What with” and offered only very little technical details. And I got a free USB Stick, so yay!
Since I recently read “REST In Practise” and “RESTful Web Service”, I was keen to attend Evert Pot’s session “So you think you know REST?” then. Unfortunately, the talk focused way too much on various HTTP features and was very dry. I missed information about Resources, Representations, Richardson’s Maturity Model, the role of Hypermedia (HATEOAS) and how REST enables us to build Domain Application Protocols.
After the lunch break I attended Jonas Marien’s “Implementing Comet using PHP”. Whenever I researched Comet for PHP in the past, I came to the conclusion that PHP isn’t that well suited for it. I had hoped to gain some new insight on the topic, but the talk mainly offered a (very thorough) overview of available Comet technologies in general and not so much about the problems faced when wanting to do Comet in PHP. So the title was somewhat of a misnomer.
For the final session on that day I attended Rob Allen’s “Zend Framework 2.0: what’s new and what’s changed?”. This was a good talk that delivered what it promised. As I dont follow the ZF2 development too closely it was good to learn that a number of things that bug me in ZF1 are on the ToDo list for improvement in ZF2.
The socializing event was scheduled from 2030 to 2300 in Club NL in downtown Amsterdam. Unfortunately, that venue didnt work for me at all. The place was way too small to accomodate all the attendees and it was definitely too noisy to socialize without yelling at each other. I left early.
Conference Day 2
The second day at DPC11 started with the Helgi Þormar Þorbjörnsson keynote about “First Class APIs”. Helgi emphasized the growing importance of making Data available on the web via dedicated APIs. While this was a solid keynote it paled in comparison to the furious keynote Aral Balkan delivered on the first day. I also felt it was rather lengthy with the main argument being sufficiently explained after about half of the keynote.
The first session I attended that day was Juozas “Joe” Kaziukėnas “The new era of PHP frameworks”. I didnt always get who Joe was refering to when he said “we” but the talk gave a good overview over the current state of PHP frameworks and what to expect from the next generation of PHP frameworks. Some of what was suggested as desirable features in next-gen frameworks was rather opinionated in my book and debatable (just add beer) but unfortunately, there wasnt enough time to do so.
When I left Rob Allen’s ZF2 outlook the day before, I had asked him about a specific problem I was currently facing in one of my ZF projects and he invited me to his talk “Optimising a Zend Framework application”. This was a very well done talk offering plenty of good practical advice (beyond what is already offered in the ZF Performance Guide) to take home.
After that I attended Qafoo’s “Modular Application Architecture”. Kore Nordmann and Tobias Schlitt presented different solutions to this problem and compared them. The talk covered a lot in a very short time, which made it sometimes hard to follow. For the short 45 minutes at DPC it might have made sense to just focus on an overview and leave out the obscure real world examples of Oxid and PHPBB. Still, a good talk.
The last talk for this day was David Zuelke’s “Large-Scale Data Processing with Hadoop and PHP”. David is a very entertaining speaker with a skill to sell technologies to you in a very short time. Unfortunately, he had a headache this day and wasn’t as jumpy as usual. But even with this slight handicap, David delivered a professional and rock solid, well structured introduction to Hadoop and HadooPHP with some live demos.
The closing keynote of DPC11 was held by Cal Evans. Cal talked about what managers should know and do if they want developers to exhibit the same passion and enthusiasm towards their jobs than they show for open source projects they work on in their spare time. Though I am not sure I’d subscribe to all what was said, this was a solid and entertaining keynote with a clear message.
All in all, I really enjoyed DPC a lot. There was plenty of interesting topics to pick from. And despite the failed Social Event, I still had my share of socializing and networking between sessions. DPC11 was a rather valuable conference for me and I am looking forward to come back here next year.
Thanks to everyone who made this happen.