PHPBenelux 2019 recap

During the Tilburg PHP Meetup in January, I was the lucky one who won the PHPBenelux ticket sponsored by Techpath. On January 25th/26th 2019 I was happy to visit the 10th edition of PHPBenelux in Edegem (Antwerpen). After having visited 3 editions of Laracon EU, PHPBenelux wasn’t my first conference but it was my first general PHP conference.

The conference started with the keynote from Rasmus Lerdorf about 25 years of PHP. It was a nice overview of the history of PHP and what’s to come in the near future. It was an interesting explanation of some things we have not always liked but really helped PHP to grow. Rasmus also showed some nice tools to check out (phan and phpspy). Mixed with some humor made the talk a good start of the conference. 

Another highlight was the talk Driving Technical Change by Terrence Ryan. Terrence started with explaining that technical change, like any other change, is difficult to implement in an organization. He also talked about different types of people you will face while trying to implement changes and how to react to them.

The talk about Defensive PHP programming from Ike Devolder showed a lot of ways in how to prevent failures by writing good code. Most of this talk was a nice recap of what I already apply and a few new things to think about writing my next code.

Brutal refactoring, lying code, the Churn, and other emotional stories from Legacy Land by Matthias Noback was the talk with the longest title and, for me personally, a good motivational talk for working with legacy code. This in regards to knowing that I have a big legacy project coming up. Matthias also mentioned the package churn-php what looks like a nice tool to help find locations that are probably important in the projects code.

In his presentation ‘Aspects of Love’, Mark Baker showed a concept that was totally new to me. I like that you can go to a conference, learn something entirely new and the moment it becomes useful you know the terms to look for and dive into it.

Building global web apps with multi-region hosting from Jordi Boggiano was a very good talk. He showed how he handles world wide scale traffic with respect to different requirements and budgets. From a commercial calendar applications like Teamup to the famous for which I didn't realize, Jordi did it as a side project from his basement. Maybe the most beautiful part was that he didn't use fancy products, but more importantly chose the most pragmatic way to do the job.

I ended with a presentation form Kat Zień titled: Performance optimisation: how do I go about it? It showed how to make small changes in your code that can improve an applications performance. More importantly, she showed a few different tools. The most interesting one, I’ve never heard of, was PHP MEMINFO. For me this was a reminder that I need to dive deeper in the possibilities of Xdebug.

Aside from the talks, PHPBenelux is a conference with a big social part, there is a lot of space to talk with other people. You feel that the social aspect is a big part of the conference, talking to people you know and do not yet know. The ‘Friday night social’ and ‘Post conference social’ are part of the schedule. They even had bumper cars, so you know the social aspect it on top of mind by the conference organization.

I can only come to the conclusion that the PHPBenelux team did a very good job and I'm thankful that Techpath provided me a ticket. It was my first time visiting PHPBenelux but certainly not my last.