Lone Star PHP 2013, These Were Not The Droids I Was Looking For…

First of all, kudos to Chris and all of the team that put on Lone Star PHP 2013 –  the conference was well done and the facility was great again this year (Wi-Fi was actually usable this year.) Also, good job to all of the speakers – I know that some of this material is difficult to present, and we are (on average) a fairly critical crowd. I’ve bring my whole team to LSP every year, we will definitely be back next year.

So, with all of the props, what is this article about? What do I want to change? I suppose my expectations are pretty high due to the fact that I only get to attend one tech conference a year, but I really did have high hopes of learning new technologies that were useful or improving my proficiency with the skills I currently have.

So, my expectations were not met, then? Well, yes and no. I did learn a few new things, but not a lot that was tremendously useful. I did improve in some ways my current skillset, but definitely nothing groundbreaking. I’m fairly certain my team got more out of it than I, and as the I.T. Director that is equally important. Our training opportunities are limited.

However, my biggest complaint is what I feel like is (unrealistic) ideals in the PHP community or a lack of practicality – this is not the fault of LSP or any of the developers that gave talks. In fact, I will take the blame myself, because I thought about submitting a talk, but didn’t…so there. I also, did not really review the talks submitted beforehand (lack of time and I knew I would go anyway, again, my fault.) I feel like some areas of PHP are talked about like we live in a vacuum. Like the continued emphasis on how Unit tests should not test dependencies, especially not database interactions (sorry, Matt, I’m not knocking you…just the concept.) Really? I mean, so I have to write 2 tests – one to test JUST the code and one to test the code AND the database call (cause if both don’t work together, the users don’t care if my code works by itself.) Yes, the community has an answer for this as well. Use another testing system, like Behat – so I have to learn and maintain another testing system to cover this (even more) critical issue. I barely have time to write one test, let alone two…especially when one test can tell me if either don’t work (may require a little more debugging, but when managing several hundred thousand lines of code….you get the drift.) Of course, when I went to my first conference (ZendCon, I think it was 2005), there were many topics that I felt that was about, that today, I agree with and practice (or just don’t feel so strongly against), but today I am a much better developer than I was 7 years ago.

So, I suppose if want things to be different, I need to take action. Maybe I’ll submit a talk called “PHP In The Real World” or “PHP For Developers Who Have Way More To Do Than They Time” or “PHP For Developers That Manage An Entire I.T. Operation.” Maybe we could have a whole track: PHP Programming For The Way Too Busy.

Actually, one thing we saw very little of is talks on deployment (other than the Phing talk, which I missed, and we don’t use Phing anyway.) I’m a developer that manages the process from end to end (from writing the code to managing the servers and even the desktops that use the code.) Maybe publishing this article convince me to submit next year (or shut up.) I would love to see a talk on “How To Implement a C.I. Like Jenkins On Windows.” Oh, did I not mention that I develop for Windows and IIS? Well, that’s because trying to get talks on PHP Development in Windows for Windows Servers running IIS would probably get me stoned.

One more time, before I get dismissed for being too hard Lone Star PHP 2013, everyone did a great job and I really did enjoy myself (I go as much for the community interaction, as the local PHP User Group meets on a night that I cannot attend) and did hear some very good talks and enjoyed meeting some people that I only know from podcasts and Twitter, like Ed Finkler and Adam Culp.) I hope the conference continues to grow and I know everyone will continue to work towards making it better and better each year.