Pragmatism in the real world

PHPNW 09 Conference

The PHPNW 09 Conference took place last Saturday and I’ve finally found time to write up my thoughts on it.

I went up on Friday in order to meet up with the speakers for dinner and also to go to the pre-conference social at the Lass O’Gowrie.

The PHPNW09 speakers' dinner

The conference was kicked off with an excellent keynote by Kevlin Henney on uncertainty. The main point I took away was that the attitude of “any decision is better than no decision” is completely wrong for software development. It is much better to delay a decision until you have enough information to make it.

There were two tracks for the rest of the day. I listened to Lorna Mitchell talk about development best practices in the context of The Joel Test. This was interesting and I was pleased to note that whilst my company doesn’t have a score of 12, we have talked about all the items internally.

I then listened to Rowan Merewood of Plusnet who talked about introducing new tools and development practices into a team environment. One key point he made was that it is important to have a “champion” on the team to push for the new tool/practice and I couldn’t agree more. Everything that has “stuck” in our team has been because someone in the team really cares about it.

The provided lunch was very good and a noticeable step-up from last year’s sandwiches :) I also noticed that the WiFi seemed to work well too.

Dinner was excellent

After lunch, it was my turn to talk about project management. Whilst not something that most of the delegates would do in their day to day work, I hope that they learnt a little of how the project management process works. Maybe, even picking up a few ideas on how they can help out with ensuring a project is a success. I can say with certainty that the most successful projects that I’ve managed have most closely followed what I talked about. The ones that go wrong are the ones where we take shortcuts which then come back and bite us!

After my talk, Derick Rethans talked about how useful Xdebug is and how to use its many features.

I bowed out of the talks at this point and spent the next couple of hours talking to people and learning interesting stuff on a more personal level.

The closing session included a segment by Microsoft where they talked about Expression. I found this quite frustrating as I couldn’t help but think that they could have used the time better to tell us about how great PHP is on Windows now. They should be shouting about the fact that Windows is now a first class server platform for PHP applications at every opportunity. Not telling us about a wire-framing tool. What do I know though?!

After the conference, Sun Microsystems sponsored an open bar which was very much appreciated.

Free drinks after the conference

On Sunday, a set of informal sessions took place at MOSI. I overslept and managed to miss the first couple of hours and then spent the rest of the time talking to people rather than listening to sessions. It’s a habit I have! I also looked around the museum and could quite easily go back and spend a day or two there.

PHPNW09: The day after at MOSI

All in all, PHPNW 09 was a fantastic conference.

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