News from Zend/PHP Conference

October 30, 2006

Update 3

All good things must end and I’m writing this after hearing my last session for the trip by Sebastian Bergmann who gave a talk on PHPUnit2. I was familiar with PHPUnit2 as it is just a port of JUnit and went to his talk more to get some perspective on how they are using PHPUnit2 at ez Systems. It’s a good talk and I hope to dig up his slides here before long to share.

Last night IBM sponsored a great poolside party. Well, it was meant to be poolside but it was moved indoors due to rain. It was a great chance to network and I was brushing elbows with the who’s-who of the PHP community. It’s worth noting the notable absence from this year’s conference is Rasmus Lerdorf who is probably taking a long needed break from his speaking tours. Right before the poolside gig I was listening in on the Oracle installfest and I must say that Oracle really has their act together with regards to PHP. Their Zend Core for Oracle product was flashy and functional and it was announce this week that the next release of Oracle XE will allow PHP to use a connection pool. If you need further proof that Oracle gets it, you only need to note that Oracle XE is free for databases running with less than 4GB of actual data, a single processor and no more than 1GB of RAM.

IBM also has Zend Core for IBM which has been out for quite a while but I really need to investigate it as at ITE we are an IBM shop (generally). It will be interesting to see if IBM will provide some sort of connection pooling for PHP as well. If there is anything I am taking away from this conference it will be the growing sense that PHP is now the real deal. Not that it’s capabilities and features haven’t been mature for a long time but more because it now garners support from some of the industry heavyweights and is being used in high visibility organziations like Yahoo! and Google.

I guess I should probably wrap up all this coverage with a quick note on the talk I gave yesterday. It went quite well though the room wasn’t packed which is due really to the great talks being given in my same time slot. I was pleasantly surprised to finally meet a fair number of public sector workers like Bill Judd from Alameda County California, Cliff Ingham from the City of Bloomington, Indiana and even though I didn’t meet her, Ann Mueller from Stanford University’s Linear Accelerator Center. I was given Ann’s card by Keith Casey and plan to touch base with them to see what they are doing with PHP there. Anyway, the talk went well and I was approached by a number of people who were very interested in our PHP frameworks and were eager to get their hands on some of the code which I hope to publish here in the next day or so.

If you’ve never attended a Zend/PHP conference there is a lot of value and knowledge to be gained as the tutorials, speaking sessions and networking opportunities are as good as I’ve seen at any conference in my nearly 10 years of being in the industry. A shot out to the crew at Zend, Kent at KB Conferences and all the speakers and PHP contributors that have help make this such a great experience.

Feel free to puke now from group-hug talk I just gave ;-) Update 2

Day 2 has proved to be a much better day as far as the presentations I say. First let me say if you haven’t seen Terry Chay talk you are missing something. Terry is the oratory equivalent to bacon. You can wrap a piece of sh*t in a piece of bacon and it would taste good. With Terry, he could be giving a talk on democratic expansion in the middle east and it would be good! Why? Well frankly it was a little refreshing to have someone at a professional conference like this bust out with the F-bomb a few times. Those who know me are aware of my tendency to talk like a sailer…to which I say that profanity is the crutch for inarticulate muthaf*ckers.

In all seriousness, though, I didn’t know who Terry was before today and his talk about some of the things they were doing at Plaxo where very interesting. Like Terry, Plaxo was something completely new to me and I have to say I feel very much like the out-of-touch Iowa boy that I am here in the valley.

For everybody else, well, it was hard to keep up with Terry but there was the great keynote by the Zend Brothers…Zeev and Andi and a very interesting panel discussion about various PHP stacks with the likes of Oracle, Sun, IBM, Microsoft and MySQL at the table. The big news today is the announcement that Zend and Microsoft have formed a partnership to improve PHP support under windows and IIS…something that should benefit both companies, though, I’m still not jumping of the LAMP ship yet. As far as that panel discussion goes, it was interesting to see how Sun continues to miss the ship. Even Oracle is getting it right with the recent announcement that they will be making it possible for PHP applications to use the Oracle connection pool. Sun, baby, get it right…you continually find new ways to get left behind. Even as the “Java Experts” I find that other companies like IBM, Oracle, RedHat, etc seem to bring more to the table. This is quite unfortunate given that in past lives I advocated the use of Sun hardware and software…now I can honestly say I can’t recommend any product they current produce in good faith.

Another good discussion was by Chris Anderson, editor-and-chief of Wired. He was talking about The Long Tail and articulates something I know most technology advocates understood though never put it in the pretty package that Chris does. Namely, the old model of making money was to dominate a few markets with millions of customers. Now you are finding millions of markets with just a few customers and that technology has allowed for this shift to take place. One perk is everybody at the conference got a copy of his book so I plan to give it a read on the trip back.

Day 2 is winding down and I look forward to being to give my talk on The Move to PHP. If you are interested in how to migrate from another technology to PHP or if you want to see how practical application of a sound PHP framework can save money…see me tomorrow!

Update 1

I did make the trip to San Jose safely and the only real issue was having to deal with the daylight savings and the two hour timezone difference which ends up being a net gain of 3 hours. With three girls under the age of 5 that time was done doing the obvious…sleeping.

Day one came to close and was a good start. I listened to Robert Richards give his talk on Advaned XML and Web Services which, frankly, was more about XML and all the ways PHP lets you read and write it. It is a good talk for people familiar with XML but not familiar with things like DOM, SimpleXML and the like. For me, the talk was a bit heavy on the XML and, particularly, namespacing and it didn’t talk about web services near as much as I hoped.

The second session was about using Axis2 and PHP. The guys from WSO2 did a pretty good job describing the long term goal and for those not familiar with Axis you should really read up on it particularly if you are looking to put any SOA-type components in place within your organization. The Axis2/PHP extension comes in the form of an alpha-quality PECL extension and leaves the most sought after features unimplemented yet…such as WSDL generation. Given this major shortcoming it currently has nothing to offer over the ext/soap extension other than support for all the versions of SOAP that Axis2 supports. This talk was, frankly, a let down as I was really hoping to get something with some meat to it so I could go back to work with some things to try out.

That’s about it for day one. I’m about to see what a bit of the San Jose nightlife can offer. More updates will be coming so check back!

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