Zend/PHP Conference – Day 2 – The People

I've previously written about Day 1 and Day 2.

Yesterday (Wednesday) I made it my goal to talk to people and see who was around. In order to do this effectively, I wore one of my dotProject T-shirts to “show my colors” without having to say it constantly. On a side point, have you bought your dotProject gear? If you're looking for a way to support the project and can't code, it's a great way to show some appreciation and get nifty shirts

So, I was showing my colors and went on the hunt. It was realtively quiet and uneventful until lunch. Intel was sponsoring the lunch and I managed to track down the Zend table. I sat down with them and it ended up being their Professional Services (consulting) group, a couple sales people, and a few random other people. When people asked about various things that I do, I discussed dotProject and SugarCRM quite a bit. The funniest thing was that one of the people sitting at the table was previously a salesperson for Salesforce.com and she quickly pointed out all FUD that she's been dealing in… funny.

Anyway, after lunch I started talking in detail with one of the guys at the table about dotProject and PHP development in general. He seemed like a knowledgable guy and very clueful. Then he asked if I'd heard of Horde and I said yes that I've used their email client IMP quite a bit. Anyway, then he re-introuduced himself as Chuck the team leader of Horde. Oh. So apparently lots of people have been asking for project management functionality in Horde and he doesn't want to do it. Conveniently enough, some people have been asking for an email client in dotProject… how convenient. He was also one of the three people who implemented Paypal's new PHP SDK. From what they were saying, you can now integrate with Paypal and essentially use it as your merchant account and your customer doesn't need an account and never leaves your site. Nifty.

Next, after the Andreesen Keynote, I saw someone a couple rows a head of me with Chris Shiflett's new security book called Essential PHP Security from O'Reilly. Sweet especially since I didn't think it was released yet.. So I went to the guy and asked if I could flip through it. I spent a couple minutes flipping through it – it seems like a solid overview with targetted dives into deeper stuff – and went to hand it back to the guy. It *was* Chris Shiflett. I introduced myself as we'd been exchanging emails for a bit during the conference and we went into the foyer to talk. He's a sharp guy and did one of the tutorials and one of the presentations this Friday, so he was happy to discuss a few ideas. More than anything, I want to get an outside opinion/assessment of dotProject and I figure having someone with his credibility do it can only help our efforts.

Fast forward to that evening when the Exhibition hall opened….

I went and checked out a Wiki from IBM that had been demo'd that morning. It is *nifty*. The number of modules and blocks that can be integrated and added in was simply stunning. It actually allows for a user to add limited PHP to the screen live and immediately perform new functionality. They also had the Google Maps and NOAA Weather maps modules that could basically be dropped in and were good to go. Very cool. It *might* be available for limited release next month, but the lawyers now have hold of it. 🙁

Then I went to speak with SugarCRM. I already had an introduction lined up, so I thought it might go well. Well, it went fantastic. My contact is highly esteemed by them and seemed to give some instant credibility. I told them about The Domino Bridge . They didn't seem to believe that it only takes about 4 lines of code to be added to Sugar, but I nearly pulled out my laptop to demo the whole thing. I think they believed me at that point. I also told them that the VTiger crew seems to frequent this site and “Mani” seems to enjoy harassing me.

Let me state this clearly. VTiger was based 100% on SugarCRM and has gone from there. In the initial releases, the only added value was an installer to wrap around what was an already simple install process. I just checked out their forums and they are openly converting modules from SugarCRM to VTiger. Allowed and legal? Probably. Ethical? Not a chance. Are they adding value in areas now, as far as I can tell, yes. Am I going to work with them when I know that they could simply rebrand dotProject as “vProject” and call it their own? Hmmm.

Then I went and spoke to Spike Source. Wow. Wow. Wow. If you're a regular reader of this blog, you know that I am 100% in favor of Unit Tests, Integration Tests, automating the whole process and generally confirming compatibility before making a release… I've even presented on it. That's what these guys do. That's exactly what they do. And it sounds pretty impressive because it's all automated and just simply runs as new patches are released. A new version of Apache is out, how do you know how your stack works? They'll figure it out. The eventual goal is to have process completely automated so that a customer can subscribe and know that their stack will work with the latest and greatest version of (choose an app). Amazing. I asked if they were hiring. 😉

Then I was briefly a star.

I was walking by one table and I saw a printed page that looked familiar. I stopped and recognized it as the Project Listing screen of dotProject! Then the guy behind said “I heard there was a dotProject developer here!” It turns out that they offer a service that monitors dotProject and will auto-deploy new releases/patches and install them for you. How are they doing it? Not a clue… we've developed our own within CaseySoftware and it's taken some interesting wiggling and adjustment in order to make sure the whole thing worked.

All in all, it's been a pretty good conference so far and I'm looking forward to the final 24 hours… more updates to follow.