This year’s Sunshine PHP conference is only the second I’ve attended. My first was Tek in Chicago, in 2013. Having 2 years of PHP experience behind me now has made a big difference in my understanding of the topics presented in the talks.

Here are a few of the talks I sat in on in 2013:

  • Overview of Symfony2 for Beginners
  • Five Tools for Better PHP Development
  • Best Practices for the Sole Developer

Obviously entry level stuff. I actually had a little difficulty trying to pick sessions, because most of the topics were way above my level. But I received one piece of advice that I found very helpful. I don’t remember who it was, but it was suggested to me that I should not shy away from some of the more advanced topics, because I would pick up bits and pieces of information that I might use later. I am finding this to be true.

Here are a few of the talks I selected this year:

  • My App Is Secure…I Think
  • Developer Experience In The PHP World
  • Advanced Adventures In Git
  • Beyond Design Patterns

As you can see, these are a bit more advanced topics than what I chose 2 years ago. In fact, in reviewing what was available in 2013, I saw a few topics that I would love to attend now, but did not even consider two years ago.

At PHP Tek 2013, this blog was born, after one of the community members suggested that I should have one, not so much for other people to read, but rather, as a place to record what I learn. That was extremely valuable advice, and I’m glad I took it.

This year, I was invited to join the Hackathon – something that in 2013, I felt kind of intimidated about, and didn’t participate in. Not only did I learn how Open Source Software works, I was able to participate in a real project, and submit a code change, which was accepted. All in about 3 hours, while enjoying free pizza.

The information presented at these conferences is very valuable, but that is only a part of what makes conferences so good, and so valuable. The bigger picture is the community, and the environment. By community, of course, I’m referring to all the other programmers and experts who are at the conference. Spending time around them, and getting to know some of them is very valuable. The other thing, the environment, is the part that I actually find most valuable.

In my opinion the experience of isolating yourself from your normal day to day activity, and entering the “bubble” of a conference, is very beneficial. It allows you to enter, and stay in “geek mode” for several days, without the usual daily concerns. It is in this mode that great ideas are born, and concepts that you are learning begin to solidify. I’m sure that some people live in this mode a lot more than I do, but for those who don’t, getting away in a conference “retreat” is really a good thing.

I look forward to attending the next conference. With only two under my belt, I can already conclusively say that I leave them better than I went in.


Sunshine PHP 2015