The trip to Amsterdam started off in Gent where I traveled along with Felix De Vliegher & Steve Roelens. Comfortably cruising along the Belgian & Dutch motorways, we where looking for some good times and some expert opinions on common PHP topics. In retrospect, we got both in spades!
Welcome to Amsterdam
We all booked rooms in Novotel nearby the RAI venue and after the obligatory checkin, we quickly decided to head off to town. Everyone knows that Amsterdam is a pretty wild city, but add the fact that Holland was playing an UEFA European Cup game versus France that weekend and you have yourself a full blown circus.
The Dutch are pretty dedicated, emotional and loudmouth fans and the entire city was covered in orange ornaments. They where excited about their weekend, but so where we. After some late night shopping and a quick fastfood stop, we quickly turned to the number one tourist attraction in Amsterdam: the famous red light disctrict known as De Walletjes.
As strange as it might sound, but there are families strolling around looking at the entire phenomenon: girls luring guys in, pimps on the lookout and drug dealers hustling. Your typical family night out, right? Very exciting, but extremely fake I must add.
After a final fastfood stop, we headed back to the hotel and hit the hay. Make no mistake: Amsterdam is a nice city the visit, but the real reason for our stay was the PHP conference. The first day was tutorial day and I had signed up for the PHPUnit tutorial by Sebastian Bergmann. The good thing about this tutorial is that you’re not dealing with some speaker or coach, but the guys who actually developed the software. It doesn’t get much better than that.
Really interesting stuff and this was only the beginning. There where plenty of opportunities for networking as well and I actually met a lot of customers, so I obviously had to represent Combell.
If knew right from the start that this was a good conference, the organisation was superb:
- Great topics
- World class speakers
- Good venue
- Decent catering
- Kick-ass afterparty (courtesy of the Dutch national football team)
Let me get into more details about that friday night afterparty: all attendants were kindly invited to the Werck bar at the Prinsengracht. There was a happy our (thanks to IBuildings) and the atmosphere was ecstatic. The bar also had a dining area which was exclusively reserved for IBuildings staff. Since IBuildings has lots of employees and even a UK branch, there were lots of people.
So we had a packed bar, lots of drinks and tons of football fans. Need I say more? Ow yeah, I do: Holland crushed France that night and it was the most lovely football experience ever. Seconds after the first Dutch goal, it felt like a bomb was dropped on Amsterdam: in the bar everyone went nuts, but outside you could here the roars from an entire city. Imagine asking a million people to yell at the same time and you’d have the same effect.
Poor Fabien Potencier who supported the French team. The game didn’t just leave an impression on him or me, because Europeans knew what they’re getting themselves into. But the Americans, they were absolutely stunned ! But at least now they know what Hup Holland Hup means. Some American speakers even made remarks on that during their talks
After tutorial day and the parties it was time for some real deal PHP shizzle. Ivo Jansch was the guy that put us on track with a short introduction.
After the intro it was time for a keynote by Zeev Suraski, the co-founder of Zend called State Of PHP. He talked about the state and evolution of PHP. It is definitely a cool thing to see how PHP evolved from PHP/FI and a small university project into to enterprise product it is nowadays.
Two keynotes in a row: we were in for a real treat! Next up was Marco Tabini, the co-founder of PHP|architect. He brought us a presentation called Software And The Taste Of Mayo. The title seems quite mysterious and vague, but in fact he explains that good software is a mixture of the right ingredients, just like mayonaise.
I also enjoyed the talk by Gaylord Aulke called An Infrastructure For Team Development which covers best practices when working with multiple developers on one project. Gaylord went over the common tools professional PHP developers use these days and also specified how to use them when working in teams. Good stuff there!
Content wise, this was the most interesting talk on the bill. Lorna Mitchell’s talk called Deployment With Subversion dealt with best practices to make deployment a little easier. It even involved a little bunny called Nabaztag that goes nuts when Subversion commits fail. Simply awesome!
Off course I had to see Ivo in action. His talk covered practical items, but was actually quite evangelistic. It was called Enterprise PHP Development and shows how PHP is enterprise ready as a technology. He wrote a book about it and even the fiercest non-believers would crawl up in some deep dark hole after seeing this.
I strongly believe that PHP can be used in an enterprise environment and I have talked about it on some occasions myself. This talk inspired me to spread the word.
Needless to say that a Terry Chay talk leaves an impression. He knows what he’s talking about, he has proven to be an expert in his domain and he’s not afraid to kick the oposition in the nuts. Did he screw with Rails? Ow yeah he did! Did he curse a zillion times? Fuck yeah he did!
His talk was called ”The Internet Is An Ogre” and was beautifully illustrated with some great slides, animations and movies. Terry, please come back to Europe some time!
I hope this brings back some memories for the people who were there. I am convinced that this year’s edition will be as successful and I hope to see you guys there for a little chat.