The Brazil Scene
Brazil is a pretty amazing place. When I moved to San Francisco from London, I thought California was as warm as it got -- I was wrong. A solid 30C (90F) was a good way to start and I quickly learned to shed my jeans in the humid heat. The laid back climate explains the friendly faces of the developer community I met. What a wonderful welcome.
Brazil, and particularly Sao Paulo, has a great developer scene. I met a lot of super-smart people. In a country with a young high-tech industry, there were a surprising amount of incredibly savvy developers. Laptops in Brazil seem to cost about 60% more than in the USA which might explain why there are less of them around.
I was very impressed by the amount of technical stuff conducted in Portuguese. In fact, for most of the conference, I was at a loss. Only the people from outside Brazil did their sessions in English. I think this is both a blessing and a curse. It's wonderful to see such a vibrant local community, thriving with its own champions and experts. At the same time, I wonder at the barrier created by language. Both with the Brazilian developers having easy access to the wealth of material in English, but more developers in the rest of the world seeing the great projects people are working on in Brazil.
An opportunity for Brazil
If you haven't really thought about it you might have missed how important Brazil is. In terms of land mass its the 5th largest country in the world, narrowly behind Canada, USA and China. It has a population of 200 million people that's a lot of folks. Sao Paulo, where the conference was held has a population of 10 million, significantly more than, for example, London.
A lot of people in Brazil told me how they wished they were less "backwards", that developers didn't know enough in Brazil. I'm not sure. I think Brazil actually has an incredible opportunity. As electronics become more affordable and more people get online, they can leap-frog a lot of the technology cruft we have built up over the years and jump straight into much newer technologies. I'd like to hear about some amazing PHP5 and HTML5 projects coming out of Brazil, as they go straight for the cutting edge. Without such a lot of old infrastructure to maintain they could really take the world by storm.
I really enjoyed PHP Conference Brazil, I recommend you check out all the talks if you speak Portuguese, and even if you don't. Sebastian Bergman did a couple of great sessions on testing in PHP, and Eli White did a great one on highly scalable web applications. Of course, you can also check out mine, web sites on speed:
Tom Hughes-Croucher (@sh1mmer)
Yahoo! Developer Network