I spend most of the last week or so over in Manchester for a combination of excellent PHP-related events: PHP Unconference Europe on Saturday and Sunday (with a rather excellent warm-up party on Friday night!), followed by the PHP Days training on Monday and Tuesday.
PHP Unconference Europe
A large crowd gathered very early on Saturday morning at the Pitcher and Piano, and got our briefing on how session voting works (everyone gets 4 stickers, you stick the stickers onto the sessions you want to see, the ones with the most get scheduled).
This got really confusing really fast at this point as I had added a couple of sessions to the site beforehand, as much to get the ball rolling as anything else. One didn't have many votes, and was fluffy, so I just didn't worry about it too much ... except it was "Speaking Tips for Developers" which a) got voted in, and b) everyone wanted to have first on the schedule. So found myself attempting to give speaking tips at 30 seconds notice, with no prep ... "Do as I say, not as I do"!! Still it was a good crowd and a few people thanked me so I might write up my thoughts on that.
Needless to state, since I'd been so laid back about preparing material for talks I might not need to give, the other talk got accepted too so I also talked about my experiences of using github to run a project (using joind.in as the case study). Finally I rounded up some willing victims (thanks Stefan and Sebastian!) to talk about how tools can help with code audit, which was great. I requested this session and ended up learning a lot! I didn't see much of the rest of the schedule but it looked rather good.
Sunday was also very cool, in particularly I enjoyed the HTML5 talk from Patrick Lauke! I did bail in the afternoon sessions to kick off the plans for PHPNW11 with my co-organisers, which just added to the excitement of the weekend!! So put October 8th and 9th in the diary and I'll see you in Manchester! This year we have a new venue, a tutorial day running on Friday 7th, and the usual combination of excellent tech content and beer - I'm very excited :)
I've heard about the PHP Days before, but never had the opportunity to attend so I was really pleased when they came to Manchester! So thePHP.cc, consisting of Stefan Priebsch, Arne Blankets and Sebastian Bergmann, basically sits in a room with attendees, and shows them whatever they want to see. Although these guys are friends of mine, they are also experts in their own fields and I was really looking forward to seeing them teach in a more formal setting. I was not disappointed, right down to their famous teaching style, which mostly consists of playing "devil's advocate" with one another to debate the finer points of best practice! This works really well because rather than "do this" you get a much better view of the issues involved.
On a personal level, it wasn't so much what I learned that was new that made an impression. It was the opportunity to spend time with these industry leaders (and the really interesting other attendees), talking about technology and building something interesting. I am self-employed so I usually work in a vacuum; coming away with some new ideas and also the sense that I am not too far of the mark in most of what I do, has been really encouraging and valuable. I can only thank everyone involved for making it happen - and I'm determined to bring these things to the UK more often!
All in all, it was a fabulous 4 days and I'm hoping there might be a repeat next year ....