I’ve been going to the PHPNW conferences since the first one back in 2008 and every year is better than the last. The talks are great, the speakers are enthusiastic about their subject matter and attendees are always friendly. I have made a number of friends over the years and look forward to seeing some familiar faces this October.
Looking back at myself in 2008 I was very much still learning about PHP and quite naive about many of the tools and practices surrounding PHP development. The conference opened my eyes to a whole range of topics that I wasn’t aware of which set me down the path of becoming a better developer. PHPNW conferences in the intervening years have helped build upon this knowledge.
There have been more than a few examples where I had been struggling with something and either a session or just a chat to another developer has clarified issues for me. I remember before PHPNW10 I had spent a few weeks building a Zend Framework application and had battled with the form decorators to get some form elements displaying exactly as intended. During a talk by Ryan Mauger he put a diagram up that made everything fall into place and I suddenly knew exactly how decorators worked and what parts of the form output they controlled.
Overall, I don’t think the learning experience of a PHPNW Conference and Tutorial Day can be overstated. It’s easy to read news stories and do research but trying to decide where to spend your time (and by extension, the company purse) using particular technologies can be a bit of a minefield. Knowing what SPL or Silex is, might be fine, but when someone shows you how they solved specific problems it enables you to see the benefits of using that technology.
Personally, I can’t wait for the Conference and Tutorial day this October. There is an amazing range of talks with some awesome speakers, many of whom have presented in the past.