Dutch PHP Conference 2014 revisited

June 28th, 2014

After a few months of waiting it was finally here: Dutch PHP Conference 2014. It was a bit of a shaky start when we found out that Mathias Verraes's tutorial was already sold out, and more tickets where only made available after the early bird sales ended. But in the end, that was my own mistake - and next time I'll order my tickets even earlier!

This conference was quite different than the year before. You see, besides visiting, this year Jasper and I intended to give a talk of our own at the uncon. And we did! It turned out to be a bit of a bad call, but we took the very first slot. This resulted in an almost empty room, but we delivered the presentation called "Ansible-Project-Deploy" anyway. If you're interested, you can see the slides here.

After that, it was time to focus attention to the conference. Overall, it had a different feel to it than last time. There seemed to be less polish on the opening (I really missed the intro-movie like Ross & Martin made last year). I don't know why, but on friday the talks seemed to fall a little short on quality; the atmosphere was a bit less community-ish and at some points the place was absolutely crowded.

Luckily, saturday more than made up for that feeling. I saw some really good talks, had a bit more time to really interact with people and enjoy myself. Also: The closing keynote was absolutely brilliant. I'd still give this conference a solid seven-and-a-half (out of ten).

Here's a few of my favorite talks, in no particular order:

Managed Technical Debt

by Mathias Verraes

Financial debt is something that is meticulously documented, planned for, and if all goes well: repaid in full. Technical debt however, is some vague notion of problems in the future that only the technical people see coming, nobody knows the scale of and is almost never something that 'needs repaying'. Mathias displays a simple technique to gain insight in the technical debt. As an added bonus, the slides are mostly screen captures from the movie 'Leon'. Excellent choice!

Abstract Machines

by Igor Wiedler

A talk that takes you back to the basic machines that computing is based upon. Not real machines - although Igor has some very nice possible designs in his presentation - but abstract machines. Machines that break down computing into basic steps. This makes way for understanding what it is we're doing, and the fundamental problems we're dealing with. While simple at the core, programming is still a very hard thing to do.

Making the Most of your Agile Process

by Justin Carmony

Justin Carmony was a new speaker to me, but he's a pretty funny guy who can tell a good story. I particularly like the fact that you really get a sense of experience from him. He's been there, done the Agile thing, adapted, changed and used it, and in the end completely understood it. And now he's spreading the word.

Practical Event Sourcing

by Mathias Verraes

This subject, thinking of your entire dataset as a series of events rather than a database of states, is mind-blowing. Mathias delivers this talk with his usual energetic style, so it's guaranteed to make you want to start trying out this technique immediately. There's not much more I can think of here, this one is pure gold.

Getting creative with code

by Seb Lee-Delisle

This presentation is just plain crazy. Live coding on a Commodore64, Lasers, digital fireworks, Lasers, a game called "clappy bird", Lasers, an appearance of yours-truly (and the entire audience) in the "Dutch PHP Band" and... wait for it... wait for it... Lasers! Also, right at the end, when you least expect it, Seb suddenly springs three pieces of advice on you - and they're really good! Hilarious. I'd watch it again if I could.

So, that's it for the revisit. I'm certainly going to be at DPC15, see you all there!

One final thought: the official conference mobile app was a bit of a disappointment... I would have thought that it would be at least as good as visiting the website with a mobile phone but it wasn't. There is no reason to install the app. If pressed for improvements, I would say I'd like to:

  • see the talk difficulty in the list view
  • select the talks I want to see or hide those that I don't
  • be able to add notes, so giving feedback becomes easier

Ramon de la Fuente

Pointy haired boss