I love going to conferences. It’s probably obvious why – you get to learn about new technology and techniques, meet others who share a passion for software development, and have the opportunity to travel around and see the world. Recently, I went to London for Symfony Live 2012, which marked the first Symfony conference ever in the UK.
That last sentence is quite telling; adoption of Symfony in the PHP community has grown to a point where Sensio Labs (the company who control the platform’s development) now have a permanent presence in the country as Sensio Labs UK, and it’s become viable to bring together hundreds of developers who are, or intend to become, Symfony users. Factor in Symfony’s imminent coupling with the Drupal project, which should lead to Drupal’s famously rabid fan base joining an already passionate Symfony crowd, and it would appear that Symfony’s popularity will only continue to grow. Zend Framework 2′s recent launch should provide some healthy competition too, which can only be good for PHP developers in general.
Anyway, back to the conference. Much like the Paris conference, which I wrote about previously, the topics of conversation were concerned with a mixture of Symfony2 components, Symfony2 frameworks (i.e. Symfony2 ‘Standard Edition’ and Silex), and case studies from developers working in the Symfony ecosystem. Between myself and two colleagues from Box UK, we saw every talk that was presented, and it’s fair to say that each offered something useful.
A few stood out; I really enjoyed Sebastian Marek’s talk on code reviews, which is a technique we’ve exercised often at Box UK, but since using GitHub as our primary code management system have become a lot more reliant on. His was one of those talks in which the biggest virtue was that it validated our current process, but he also shared plenty of tips for us to share and implement. My colleagues Luke and Andy, who attended the conference with me, attest that the talk on Behavioural Driven Development delivered by Marcello Duarte and Konstatin Kudryashov was one of the most popular talks of the day, an opinion which feedback on Twitter would appear to bear out – two developers, clearly passionate about their topic, sharing insights and new tools with the community. We aim to put their lessons into practice at Box UK in the near future, and Luke has committed to writing a blog post in more detail on this topic (no pressure!).
Finally, the talks concerning Symfony’s integration with Drupal were engrossing – the prospect of two heavyweights joining to offer an unrivalled Content Management solution is exciting and, given the success Drupal has already enjoyed, can only increase the opportunities for companies in the Content Management sector. Having spent much of my time at Box UK working with such solutions, it was really interesting to gain insight into how others have integrated with Symfony, and the impact it is having on their products. I was also able to bend the ear of a few of the speakers to get more specific answers to my questions, mostly around PHPCR, which is an opportunity one rarely gets to enjoy.
Just as important as the talks by prominent speakers are the random conversations which occur during breaks, and I had interesting discussions with many people, including familiar faces from previous conferences and new acquaintances from notable companies like ZDNet. I learned quite a bit over a tasty lunch!
Given that this event seemed to go well I’d imagine there’ll be another next year, hopefully with an increased attendance. In his closing keynote Fabien Potencier (the original creator of the Symfony framework) implored users of the platform to share their experiences, so our intention is to share some case studies of our Symfony-based projects in the near future. Watch this space!
In the meantime, if you’ve worked with Symfony we’d love to hear your experiences; please tell us what you think using the comments box below.