Last weekend was the second annual PHP North West Conference, held at Manchester Conference Centre and attended by 200 people. We kicked off our weekend on Friday night, with a pre-conference social in a pub near to the conference venue. There wasn't really enough space but it contained geeky things and sold actual beer, which seemed appropriate. Saturday morning saw the delegates arriving bright and early, ready for our Keynote from Kevlin Henney "The Uncertainty Principle". He had a whole room full of developers laughing along with him in the early morning - what a great session :)
Next up it was my turn to speak - speaking at a conference that you're also organising and doing the paper selection for has been a bit of a strange experience, I'd never say "never again" but both things detracted from the other slightly. My talk was "Passing the Joel Test in the PHP World", which is a re-take of the Joel Test, adapted for web development - its a nice opportunity for me to get some of my thoughts across on a range of best practices and the slides are available online. Once I began speaking and my nerves got out of the way, I almost enjoyed myself - I got some great questions from people in the bar in the evening as well, hopefully I'll be giving that talk again some time. We used joind.in to allow our attendees to leave feedback - they were great and the comments are still coming in. I was blown away by the feedback on my own talk however - conference organisers please take note!
The rest of the day was a whirl of organisation, chatting with people in the hallway, and catching a few bits and pieces of talks - I did see more talks this year than last year though which I was very pleased about. At the end of the day we had a session with some content from our premier sponsor Microsoft, a whole bunch of giveaways, and I was able to take the microphone once more to thank the organisers, particularly Jeremy and his team from Solution Perspective Media - after which it was time to party. The food was excellent all day, and Sun had put money behind the bar which took us almost all night to drink, they definitely financed some sizeable hangovers!
This year for the first time we also had an informal day on the Sunday, this was something I was deeply involved with organising and I think it went pretty well. Arriving ten minutes before the start time to find speakers, attendees, and a venue with the cafe already open was a welcome surprise before 9am on a Sunday morning! The five speakers that morning were a mix of experienced speakers, new speakers, core PHP topics and a few allied technologies. Plenty of people dropped in to hear a session or two and explore MOSI through the morning, I think it was a nice addition to the schedule.
All that remains is to extend a huge thanks to our speakers, helpers, sponsors and of course the attendees - if you were there I hope you had a great time!