Zend/PHP Conference – Day 4

I'm writing this while sitting in the San Francisco airport about 8 hours after the conference ended. As always, previous coverage is available here: Day 1, Day 2, Day 2 – The People, Day 3, and Day 3 Part 2.

This morning you could tell that people were feeling it. The audiences were much quieter and even at the closing, there seemed to be about half as many people there. I don't think this is a bad sign, I suspect that it's due mostly to flight scheduling. My options were to catch an 11am flight and effectively miss the entire day or catch an 11pm flight and figure out how to entertain myself in the airport for 10+ hours.

The first session was a tossup for me. I wanted to attend Chris Shiflett's presentation, but I was equally interested in the presentation on the work Zend did for Paypal with PHP web services. The system is *huge* and is the largest Web Services implementation that I've been able to look at. Hopefully I'll get a chance to play with it. So many toys, so little time…

The final session of the conference was Integrating PHP as Glue with a COBOL-based Business Backend. I felt a bit bad for the presenter as there were only 6 of us there (most people were checking out before the closing keynote). This one was interesting, but he stayed at a 50k foot level instead of getting into the actual implementation, but I went and bugged him for more information and came away with:

Basically, you can call/instantiate COBOL objects and methods from PHP. You have to create a wrapper layer to handle the validation/cleaning of variables before it goes to the objects. The primary difficulty in the process is related to how well the Cobol is documented in order to write the wrappers. The wrapper handles the actual interfacing, but the higher levels of the application don't have to be aware of it at all.

Finally, we were at the closing Keynote from Adam Bosworth. He's a bit more lowkey than Chris Sacca, but still has some grand ideas. He pointed out that all of Google's efforts are working towards providing more and more content in different ways. He said that Google Maps was not an end point, but Housing Maps is. He says that their goal is to encourage other people to do nifty things. I admit, I like it. He also pointed out that the next place where changes in technology and information are going to make fundamental changes is in health care. Right now, there are so many disconnected systems with incomplete and potentially dangerous inconsistencies and at some point, an effort to tie them together is going to succeed simply becaseu by doing it, lives can be saved or extended. Good point.

I'm going to post some final thoughts on the conference later on. It was definitely a success in my book and I look forward to next year. T-03 hours until my flight leaves….