PHP

Giving Back in 2016

Three years ago, I ended 2012 with a call to the Drupal community to Get Off the Island. Mainly I wanted to encourage Drupal developers to prepare themselves for the major changes coming in Drupal 8 by connecting with other PHP projects and with the broader community, and called on people to attend non-Drupal conferences in order to visit and learn from other communities.

Anyone can code

One of Pixar's best movies is the 2007 "Ratatouille", the story of a rat named Remy who teams up with an unskilled nobody human to become a gourmet chef. Toward the climax of the film (spoiler alert!), the uber-critic Anton Ego visits their restaurant and is blown away by the quality of the food, producing the next day a genuinely humble and reflective review. While the whole review is one of the highlights of the film, there's one segment in particular I want to call out:

In the past, I have made no secret of my disdain for Chef Gusteau's famous motto, "Anyone can cook." But I realize, only now do I truly understand what he meant. Not everyone can become a great artist; but a great artist can come from anywhere. [emphasis added]

It's one of the central themes of the film, and Pixar I believe captures that line beautifully. It's true, not everyone is a good cook. Not everyone can be a good cook. However, good cooks come from a myriad of sources and backgrounds (and apparently species).

And the same concept applies to almost any skilled field, including that of programming.

Drupal 8: Happy, but not satisfied

Two weeks ago (hey, I've been busy and trying to sleep for once), after 1716 days of work by more than 3312 people the Drupal community finally released Drupal 8, the latest release of the best community-driven web software in the world. The blogosphere is already filled with congratulatory blog posts celebrating the immense accomplishment, and deservedly so.

A number of people recently have asked me how I feel about Drupal 8's release, especially around the PHP community. Overall, my answer has to be that I'm happy, but not satisfied.

Why I speak

A few weeks ago I gave a keynote presentation at PNW PHP in Seattle. It was the second time I'd given that particular talk, Eating ElePHPants, a quasi-history and lessons-learned of the process of rebuilding Drupal 7 to Drupal 8.

Overall reception was good, and afterward I was appraoched by a woman who was trying to push for better development practices and refactoring a legacy code base at her company. We've exchanged a few emails since, as she goes about trying to subvert her company's development process for its own good to introduce testing, refactoring legacy code, decoupling, and other concepts that many of us on the conference circuit take for granted.

In the course of that email conversation, she had this to say:

When I first started with this entire effort about 2 months ago, I thought I will never succeed, and I thought I had set myself up to failure - until I heard you speak about your experience. Your talk was highly inspiring and got me excited to invest more time into what I was doing and I believed in myself for the reasons I chose this effort.

And later...

All the tech talks helped me realize that I can get somewhere, made it seem within reach, but you and Adam Culp [who also gave a session on refactoring] left me inspired.

Visiting other islands this fall

In case you hadn't heard yet, Drupal 8 RC 1 is out. And there has been much rejoicing! I'm going to save my own lengthy celebration-and-thank-you post for the 8.0.0 release, so for now I will just point everyone at Campbell Vertesi's post and say "what he said!".

But it's also a good time to consider the impact that Drupal 8 has had on the PHP community. The "off the island" movement has grown large, and people outside of Drupal are echoing the same message. In fact, not one but two conferences this fall are actively trying to build bridges between PHP sub-communities: ZendCon and php[world].

Just how insular is the PHP community?

Periodically, there is a complaint that PHP conferences are just "the same old faces". That the PHP community is insular and is just a good ol' boys club, elitist, and so forth.

It's not the first community I've been part of that has had such accusations made against it, so rather than engage in such debates I figured, let's do what any good scientist would do: Look at the data!

Update 2015-08-25: The Joind.in folks have given me permission to release the source code. See link inline. I also updated the report to include a break down by continent.

The next era of PHP

2015 is turning into a watershed year for PHP. Many projects either have or will release new major versions, including Zend Framework, Symfony, Laravel, Guzzle, Drupal, Slim, and many others. And of course there's PHP 7 itself, coming this fall.

I'll talk more on those later, but for the moment I want to focus on one other major new development this year: PSR-7.

Class name constants in PHP 5.4

One of the nice new features of PHP 5.5 is automatic class name constants. That is, in PHP 5.5 you can do this:

<?php
namespace Something\Obscenely\Long\Hard\To\Type;

class
MyClass {
}

echo
MyClass::class;
// Output: Something\Obscenely\Long\Hard\To\Type\MyClass
?>

Building Bridges: 2015 Edition

As most who have met me know, building collaborative communities is a minor passion of mine. 2 years ago, I called on the Drupal community to Get off the Island and connect with other communities.

That call was part of a larger movement within the PHP community to interact more, connect more, and collaborate more than ever before. The PHP Renaissance has been driven in no small part by that greater collaboration between many different PHP communities.

To close out 2014, I spoke with Jeff "JAM" McGuire of Acquia Podcast fame about Drupal and community building, and what it means to be the "Drupal Community" when so much of Drupal isn't Drupal.

And as a final capstone, I made a challenge to the entire PHP community: Don't just talk to each other, build with each other. Get out of your comfort zone and learn something new, from someone else.

Happy New Year, PHP. Let's Build Something Good together.

2014: A Year of Travel

As 2014 draws to a close, I look back at the year and realize... holy crap I traveled a lot! I hadn't actually done a fully tally yet, but here's the full rundown:

Sunshine PHP - Miami, FL - February
Drupal South - Wellington, New Zealand - February
Florida Drupal Camp - Orlando, FL - March
MidCamp - Chicago, IL - March
Museums and the Web - Baltimore, MD - April
Lonestar PHP - Dallas, TX - April
Drupal Association Webinar - Online - May
php[tek] - Chicago, IL - May
DrupalCon Austin - Austin, TX - June
Refactor::Chicago (User group) - Chicago, IL - May
Nomad PHP (User group) - Online - June
Crafting Code Tour - Minneapolis, MN; Milwaukee, WI; Cincinnati, OH - July
Design 4 Drupal - Boston, MA -July
Twin Cities Drupal Camp - Minneapolis, MN - August
Madison PHP - Madison, WI - September
DrupalCon Amsterdam - Amsterdam, The Netherlands - September
Symfony Live - New York, NY - October
Higher Ed Web - Portland, OR - October
BADCamp - San Francisco, CA - November
php[world] - Washington, DC - November

In all, I flew 64,082 miles (103,130 kilometers for the metric fans in the audience), presented 29 times, with 13 distinct presentations at 20 conferences and user groups across 3 continents, and spent 82 days on the road (not counting non-conference travel). You know what that means?

It means I created about 10 metric tonnes of carbon pollution.

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