22nd February 2017

PHPUK 2017 - A Recap

Katy Ereira
Senior Developer

Last week I attended my fourth PHPUK conference. A two-day event with 3 tracks and over 30 speakers, it’s the UK’s premier PHP event.

The Main Stage

The Speakers

PHPUK yet again offered a great range of talks on a variety of topics from an increasingly diverse selection of speakers; old and new faces, local and international visitors of all genders, from PHP and non-PHP backgrounds, speaking on a variety of both social and technical subjects.

The Sponsors

There were some interesting sponsors at PHPUK 2017; including JetBrains, Inviqa, SamKnows, and Contentful. Some held competitions or promoted new and innovative products, but overall I felt that the sponsors were less engaged than in previous years.

Something that Eli White talked about in his keynote speech ‘State of the PHP Community’, there appears to have been a lot of fragmentation recently. There are so many more PHP events and communities that it seems that sponsors can no longer sustain the amount of resource given to conferences like PHPUK. Although more money may be poured into the PHP community as a whole, it seems to be spread much more thinly.

The Venue

I’ve never known PHPUK to be held at any other venue than The Brewery. A spacious, accessible building with a variety of facilities. There is a main hall where the sponsors gathered, and a smaller break-out area to the side with sofas and beanbags. The food provided here is always good, with half decent gluten free options this year!

However, one of my favourite areas from a previous year, a coffee lounge downstairs, was sadly missing. The conference attracts so many attendees it can be a real chore to try and hold a decent conversation with all of the crowding upstairs. The quieter coffee lounge area provided a good respite and more opportunities for social interaction.

The Talks

I went to a variety of talks over the two days, but the three that stood out the most to me were:

‘Introduction to SOLID’ by Gareth Ellis

Gareth presented the SOLID software design concepts in a charismatic and relatable way. A really enjoyable talk; engaging the audience with humorous examples that fully explored these oftentimes abstract concepts.

View the slides: Introduction to Solid

‘The road to continuous deployment: a case study’ by Michiel Rook

I wonder what the reaction would be if I suggested the idea of CD to my colleagues… committing to master, no branches, continual code-review through pair programming, a siren of shame for when things (inevitably) go wrong. Sounds like a nightmare!

In his talk, Michiel gave some really nice insight into moving legacy applications, and their teams, to CD. This included an overview of the steps needed to make it successful; including some handy rebuilding/refactoring tips and how to handle the culture shift.

View the slides: The Road to Continuous Deployment

‘Drupal8 for Symfony Developers’ by Antonio Peric-Mazar

As a Laravel developer (ok, so not a Symfony developer) working for one of the UK’s leading Drupal agencies, I felt that this talk would be relevant to my interests. So far I’ve only actually worked with Drupal 7 so it was interesting to hear how Drupal 8 relates to the Symfony framework in Antonio’s talk.

The Social

A good social is my favourite part of any conference, and not just because of the free beer! It gives attendees and speakers a really great opportunity to hang out and get to know each other in a more casual setting.

Having a mid-conference social rather than an ‘afterparty’ on Friday was a great idea. Most two-day attendees were staying at local hotels, so more time for us to spend together. Being able to stay in the spacious venue instead of having to cram into a small bar was a welcome change, too.

A Herd of ElePHPants

My Thoughts for the Future

I recently learned about the Upfront movement; imploring conference speakers to share their stage. I’d really like PHPUK to become Upfront to encourage an even more diverse range of speakers at later events.

Additionally, I’d like to see PHPUK succeed in its goal of introducing an on-site childcare service. This could offer more parents the opportunity to attend when they otherwise may not have been able to do so. Particularly women, who still have more childrearing commitments. This is especially pertinent considering that this year’s event occurred during my local schools half term period.