Technical Thoughts, Tutorials, and Musings

On Drupal's Leadership

My DrupalCon Amsterdam Core Conversation on Managing Complexity has generated quite a bit of follow-up discussion. That's good; it's a conversation we as a community really need to be having.

There are a few points, though, that I feel bear clarification and further explanation as I fear the point of the talk has gotten lost in the details.

Before continuing, if you haven't yet I urge you to watch the session video as well as the background resources linked from the session page. This is not a new conversation; it's the latest chapter in a very long-running discussion that is larger than the Drupal project, and it behooves us all to be aware of the history and context around it.

An open letter to conference organizers

Let's be honest, I spend a lot of time at conferences. Over the past 2 years or so I've averaged more than one speaking engagement at a conference per month, including a half-dozen keynotes. I've also helped organize several conferences, mostly DrupalCamps and DrupalCons. I'd estimate conferences make up more than a third of my professional activity. (Incidentally, if someone can tell me how the hell that happened I'd love to hear it; I'm still confused by it.)

As a result I've gotten to see a wide variety of conference setups, plans, crazy ideas, and crazy wonderful ideas. There are many wonderful things that conference organizers do, or do differently, and of course plenty of things that they screw up.

I want to take this opportunity to share some of that experience with the organizers of various conferences together, rather than in one-off feedback forms that only one conference will see. To be clear, while I definitely think there are areas that many conferences could improve I don't want anyone to take this letter as a slam on conference organizers. These are people who put in way more time than you think, often without being paid to do so, out of a love for the community, for learning and sharing, and for you. Whatever else you may think about a conference or this list, the next time you're at a conference take a moment to find one of the organizers and give them a huge hug and/or firm handshake (as is their preference) and say thank you for all the work that they do.

The Crafting Code Tour

Over the last few years, one of my foci has been bringing together the PHP community and taking the time to celebrate the PHP Renaissance. That effort has taken me all around the world, from Paris to Toronto to New York to Costa Rica to New Zealand. And this summer it's taking me to the Midwestern US as part of the Crafting Code Tour.

The Functional PHP tour

Ever heard of functional programming? Not procedural programming, but actual functional programming. Probably, as some fancy academic thing that no one really uses, right?

Did you know you can do it in PHP, too? It's true. In fact, I'll be speaking about it four times in the next couple of weeks!

Beyond Abstract classes

Recently, Anthony Ferrara has been posting a periodic "Beyond" series about software design philosophy. Some in particular have hinted at concepts I've been pondering as well. With his blessing, therefore, consider this a continuation of that series.

PHP 5.4 is not exactly new, but it's finally starting to see actual usage by a decent number of people. Its most notable new feature is Traits, which in PHP are implemented as, essentially, compile-time copy-paste. Conceptually, though, they're a way to mix functionality into a class without using inheritance, and without requiring a separate distinct object for composition. (At least in PHP; the term "trait" appears in other languages for similar but subtly different tools.) That's not to say that they're a surrogate for composition; they most certainly are not. They serve a different purpose, that is, providing code for a class to reuse without using inheritance.

Recently, I was reading an article discussing the implementation of inheritance, such as it is, in Go, Rust, and other new-wave concurrent languages. (Thanks to twistor for helping me track down the link.) It made an interesting point that crystallized for me why it is I am so excited about traits. Specifically, it noted that there are not one but two kinds of code reuse: interface reuse and code reuse.

A Tale of Two PHP Devs

Recently I had an email conversation with someone about PHP, and how to market a new product to PHP developers, specifically through getting major PHP projects to adopt it. The details of that conversation are not really relevant, but in the course of the discussion a familiar topic came up that I feel warrants a blog post of its own.

There is a schism in the PHP community. A big one. One so big that I don't think many realize it's there, because the gulf across it is just so wide. See, there's not one "thing" called a "PHP Developer"; there are two, and they are so unalike that I have never seen them really see eye to eye.

Dropping forward

A little over a month ago, a few Drupal developers announced something new: A fork of Drupal called Backdrop. There's been quite a bit of talk about it, of course. While I don't plan to be using it myself, Backdrop has raised a number of valid points and criticisms of Drupal that are worth discussing.

Aphorisms of fall conferences

Well, I've gone and done it. I've managed to setup my most intense conference schedule to date. This fall I will be appearing at no less than five conferences, speaking at least four of them.

If you're into Stalking Crell, here's where you'll find me around the globe this fall.

The Drupal 8 Track in Portland

You can either get on the Drupal 8 bus now, or get run over by it later.

It's true. Drupal 8 is coming, and it will be big. Not just lines of code (that too), but big in the sense that Drupal 8 changes more of Drupal than any major release in the last 10 years. The adoption of so many 3rd party components (from Symfony and otherwise) is only part of that picture. That offers challenges for many, but also enormous opportunity. Drupal 8 will allow Drupal to expand into new types of application and new markets, which is a great thing for those who make their living off of Drupal. But where do you get started with learning about Drupal 8?

At DrupalCon Portland, that's where!

There are many sessions slated for Portland at both DrupalCon and at Symfony Live that deal with Drupal 8, either directly or indirectly. Below is my recommended hitlist for Portland for those wanting to get the lowdown on Drupal 8.

What, you're not already signed up? There's still time! Go register for either DrupalCon or Symfony Live, and be sure to get a Combo Ticket so that you are able to attend both conferences as well as Web Visions! (The combo ticket is the same price either way.)

On empty return values

Earlier today, I posted a brief tweet (isn't that redundant?) about return values in PHP (or really, any language). Originally it was about return values from functions (such an exciting topic, I know), but it ended up generating a fair bit of lively conversation, as well as a patch against Drupal 8. So lively, in fact, that I think it deserves more than 140 characters.

New rule:

If your function returns a collection, its null value return must also be a collection.

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