Zend Conference 2006 – Day 1

The first day of the Zend Conference 2006 wasn't officially a conference day, it was focused entirely on tutorials. Additional coverage of the sessions will be available over the next few days as they occur. For coverage on other sites, check out the ZendCon Coverage list.

Update: Now with pictures! Special thanks to Sebastian Bergmann and Cal Evans for their excellent photo coverage of ZendCon 2006.

The first half-day tutorial I attended was “Best Practices of PHP Development” by Mike Naberezny and Matthew Weier O'Phinney (slides available on both sites). The first half of the presentation was entirely focused on programming practices and concepts. They hammered hard on coding standards and emphasized the point that choosing an established standard – usually PEAR – is a good idea because of simple readability, etc. As they noted, “you're not special, these arguments have already been had, just go with it”. Good points all.

Next, they heavily pushed documentation standards and processes especially doing using phpDocumentor. Since it's quite similar (identical?) to JavaDoc, it should seem natural to most, so it makes the most sense by far. They also pointed out that by using a style like phpDocumentor also provides another benefit. Many IDE's can then use your documentation to do things like code completion. Hmmm… so proper docs can help me immediately?

Finally, they went heavily into testing practices. SimpleTest seems popular in a lot of areas, but unfortunately, it's only php4. phpUnit – recommended by them – is actually php5 compatible. Ah, yet another thing to do.

The second half of their presentation was dedicated to Tools and Processes to support development. They were split into the three areas of Collaboration (IM, wiki's, voice), Source Control (SVN or death!), and Deployment practices. If you want to learn more about these, feel free to check out the slides. They're useful but old hat to many developers out there.

Now the afternoon session…

I started off in Chris Shiflett's “Essential PHP Security” and I've never been disappointed with one of his presentations. Unfortunately, after getting calls from three different customers in a 20 minute span, I had to step out to make a few calls. Afterwards, I made my biggest mistake so far…

I originally wasn't going to write about the second tutorial, but I couldn't do it in good conscience.

The second tutorial of the day – WS-*/REST Web Services with PHP Axis2 – was a whole other story. First of all, the lead gentlemen presenting didn't have the best diction and combined with his accent, he became quite difficult to understand. Couple this with the 3 hour session being complete after 90 minutes and the entire thing was disappointing.

About the only good thing that came out of this presentation was having the chance to speak with Tony Bibbs. He presented at DCPHP, but I missed him, so I appreciated the chance to talk a bit. He works for the State of Iowa with their biggest development group. The interesting thing though is that his group responds to other agencies' RFPs along with commercial organizations. So in order to use their funds effectively and keep the “enterprise-architecture” in sight, they use Open Source software extensively and work to share components as often as possible. It's an interesting way to get government work done using the market place. The most interesting project he shared offhand was a mashup between Iowa's sex offender database and Google Maps.