Pragmatism in the real world

PHPUK 2023

I have just returned from the 2023 edition of PHPUK and, as always, found it a valuable conference to catch up with the PHP community and find out what’s happening in the ecosystem.

This year, I was accepted to speak on the differences between RPC, REST and GraphQL APIs and was surprised and gratified that the room was at full capacity. Thank you to everyone that attended; I hope that you learnt something useful. I think that good APIs matter and am fairly pragmatic about implementations. In general, I would far rather that you wrote a really good RPC API than a bad GraphQL one for example.

The developer experience of an API matters, which is why it’s important that your API follows best practices for the architecture that you choose. For instance, follow the Relay pagination specification if you are writing a GraphQL API, or follow HTTP semantics and use status codes properly if you are writing a RESTful API. This stuff is key as developer word-of-mouth about how good your API is to use is valuable marketing.

The conference had many good talks. For instance Ian’s talk on PHP on Lambda provided valuable information and Pauline reprised her excellent talk on Git to fill the slot after a speaker pulled out. Pauline also spoke about the decentralised web, a talk I recommend that you seek out when the videos are published. All in all, the standard of talks was very high and I heard a good buzz about lots of them.

In our world of remote work, in an industry where interruptions are disruptive to the flow state that we get into when working, I can’t emphasise enough how useful the connections we make at in-person conferences can be. It’s a fantastic way to connect and talk about issues directly relevant to your work life and get other people’s thoughts with more context than is usually possible in other mediums.

The people I have met at conferences have materially affected my career for the better and I encourage everyone to try to attend a conference that’s relevant for their work at least per year.