First, there were 1-2 absolutely terrible presentations and a handful of mediocre ones. I kept most of the more scathing comments I heard to myself, but I did share some thoughts on a few of them. I debated with myself a long time about whether I should mention specific topics and/or names of those involved, but I decided to in order to be honest with all three of my readers.
Next, the hotel itself was pretty pricy. Breakfast the first day was almost $20 and a cobb salad for dinner the last night was the same. Although this doesn't seem too bad when you have a major company footing the bill, it becomes cost-prohibitive for many of the small companies and individuals who are making huge contributions to this community.
Finally, power was still an issue this year. There were a handful of surge protectors near the outlets, but they only ended up covering a small area in each corner. The lobby areas outside the session rooms had similar problems until people figured out how to open the access panels in the floor. 😉 Luckily, I brought my Power Squid and was able to plug in just about anywhere.
First, some of the sessions were absolutely great. It's great to hear about phpUnit, the Zend Framework*, and phpDocumentor. Seeing the growth and improvement of the community as a whole steadily kills off the arguements of a few who believe that PHP isn't ready for primetime.
Next, the logistics looked quite flawless. Kent Barnard, Rick Klimanowski and the entire KB Conferences team did a great job all the way around. I'm a bit biased as I've worked with them on other projects, but they're still a great group and know their stuff all the way around.
Finally, to me the singlest best thing about these conferences is meeting up with many of the core developers of other projects, various efforts, and of the language itself. Almost everyone I've met at one of these has been approachable, easy-going, and happy to discuss projects, strategies, etc over a beer or cup of coffee. It may not always be that way, but there's nothing better than being able to meet with and hear what's going on deep within these projects.
In my opinion, the conference was a bigger success this year than it was last. The attendance was up 40%, there was an ever wider swath of the community from complete newbies to core developers, and a general increase in the professionalism of projects, etc. Even the negatives were relatively small and can be easily addressed. I'm looking forward to ZendCon 2007 next year in San Jose, CA.
* Disclosure: I'm not entirely unbiased about the Zend Framework. I've been playing with it now for a couple weeks and have been impressed with it so far. More details on this to follow….