PHP Québec 2009

I've just returned from Montreal, Québec, where I spoke on Yahoo! Pipes and YQL at the seventh edition of PHP Québec. The three day conference focused primarily on PHP, but did have a fair representation of other web related technologies.

Ilia and Derick
Ilia and Derick by Sebastian Bergmann

The impressive speaker line-up included core and well known contributors like Marcus Börger, Johannes Schlüter (release manager for PHP 5.3), Andrei Zmievski, Ilia Alshanetsky, Sebastian Bergman (PHPUnit), Derick Rethans (xdebug) and Chris Shiflett, to name a few. The hallway conversations, most in high speed French, suggested that every talk left the audience better informed than before.

Day one was in full swing when I got there. Marcus had some very good talks on Objects and extension writing while Sebastian introduced "Lambda functions, Closures and Traits". Morgan Tocker's talk on MySQL high availability evidenced his excellent tutorial skills, not to mention his ability to command the attention of several young ladies. Sean Coates' "Stupid Browser Tricks" was a great way to close the day. He plugged FireBug, YSlow and Selenium. Thanks for the tip on FirePHP, Sean. In fact, it was very cool to see so many people at the conference using and talking about YSlow.

On day two, we jumped into code with PHP code reviews. Sebastian and Stefan did a good analysis of some PHP code. They looked at common mistakes in the code, some bad programming practices and also some places where the code was particularly well written. Pointing out what to do and what not to do when writing PHP code. This session was quite informative. Just prior to lunch, Louis-Philippe Huberdeau had a great talk in French about Agile development and effort estimation for developers while Ex-Yahoos Andrei Zmievski and Eric David Benari had their sessions post lunch. While Andrei zipped through many many ViM tips for PHP programmers, Eric covered RoI for PHP projects. He had some very good tips on how to get the most bang for your buck. Using mashups and Open Source products ranked high on his list. Well, we at Yahoo! love both, so the next time you're looking for an open API, be sure to head on down to for something you can reuse.

The day ended with a job fair and cocktail party with several companies showing up to interview candidates. I was quite surprised to see the Canadian Armed Forces show up as well.

The last day was shorter, but kept up the pace and quality of the former two. Owen Byrne, creator of Digg, spoke about building a development team for a large web application, while Morgan Tocker showed us the top three ways to scale MySQL broken down by development effort and bang for the buck. Both very informative. Local PHP experts Philippe Gamache and Damien Seguy went through a security centred code review of some PHP pointing out common flaws. Derick Rethans' talk on the KISS principle was a lot of fun, concentrating mainly on accessibility while Marcus' talk on "PHP worst practices" was a good complement to the code reviews done earlier.

Just prior to the closing keynote, conference attendees took part in a competition to make an elePHPant out of balloons.

The closing keynote delivered by Chris Shiflett on "Security Centred Design" urged developers to constantly think about security while building applications. The talk was very engaging and included some very apt examples. Chris lives up to his role as a Thought Leader in the community getting developers to rethink their strategies.

All in all, this was a great conference put on by a small group of individuals. Hats off to Yann, Sylvain, Anna, Mathieu, Francis and all the volunteers. Here's a shot of some of them trying their hands at making a balloon elephant:

Philip Tellis
Performance Engineer, Yahoo!