php.ie in Dublin

Today, Ken Guest and I manned the PHP.ie stand at the first IWTC conference. It was also our own first conference. We learned a few things.

  • Have something to give to people. Almost everyone that turned up to the table wanted to take away one or more of Damien Seguy’s plush ElePHPant toys we had on the desk. They were really just there for decoration, but we did give some away (luckily, my son Jareth already had one put aside!).
  • People want to join, so provide something solid which allows people to feel they are joining something real. We ended up having to ask people to join the IE-PHPUG mailing list. Next time, maybe a small form to fill in would be cool – some people might not want to join a mailing list and are more interested in occasional information.
  • There are a few companies out there that are interested in recruiting PHP writers, and active PHPUG members have a greater chance of getting their feet through the door than people who simply claim they know PHP.
  • There are a lot of people out there that have not heard of us! I spoke to two PHP writers from Techwest in Galway who guessed there might be a PHPUG, but didn’t know for certain – there are about 50 PHP developers in Galway, they said. Coming across us in the conference was a good way to open up to a more national network. Hopefully, they’ll be joining the mailing list tonight, and next month will have the first Galway PHPUG meeting, along with the Cork, Dublin and Monaghan meetings (yes, I insist on calling my monthly drinkfest an Official PHPUG Meeting).
  • Next time, bring a few extension cables – there were no sockets where our table was, and my poor lappie’s power ran out very early just as I was going to show some of my stuff to someone!

Some ideas, then, to improve the PHPUG network. I’m just putting the ideas out there, and hope that some feedback will come of it.

  • Actively push for content on the php.ie website. At the moment, it has the barest of content, and looks “un-lived-in”. We need to improve that and provide a vibrant first-stop for people interested in learning about PHP and the Irish community.
  • Built up a network – we need to know what companies use PHP developers, what companies are looking for PHP developers, and we also need a way for these companies and potentially employees to find each other.
  • Maybe each month, we could have a “spotlight” feature on selected members of the community. I’ve been told that there are 120 or so people signed up to the mailing list. I know perhaps 10-15 of them by name and casual IRC meetings. It would be great to get a bit more information about them – how/why they learned PHP, what interesting projects they’ve worked on, what they’re doing now, what current PHP thing excites them.
  • The plush elephants were a hit. Maybe badges and/or t-shirts for the next meeting? I think we might need to think about finance. I’m willing to throw what little money I can spare at this, as PHP is what I work at and a vibrant community is pretty much essential for my own work.
  • Competitions! PHP|Architect recently started running coding competitions. It would be interesting to do this ourselves as well.
  • Debates would be cool as well. I have my own opinions of what frameworks/libraries are good in PHP. It would be great to hear other people’s opinions, and to try provoke a lively comparison which would eventually provide us with a short-list of “essential” frameworks.
  • And to keep us a bit more broad-based, it would also be interesting to know what other languages people rate, and how they compare with PHP. I talked today about how I had found some applications easier to code in Java, for example, and it would be great to know what people’s opinions are about when PHP is the right language, and when some other language should be used instead.

In all, today was fun. I talked to a lot of cool people, including Romans Malinovskis, who showed me his in-house library (“A-Model”, I think he called it [update: A Module]). I listened to Sean Hanley‘s talk on Agile Web Development, which described the economic reasoning behind the “release early, release often” philosophy. Afterwards, we held the first combined Dublin/Monaghan PHPUG meeting in Eddy Rocket’s (I had a coke, and Ken had a burger and malt).

I’m looking forward to doing it again!

3 Comments.

  1. Great post there Kae. Most, you’ll not be surpised to read, completetely over my head.

    Did you think of giving out business cards?

  2. only a few. I wasn’t there on official Webworks business (although I wish I’d been able to demo the WebME CMS!) so it didn’t really occur to me to push it.

    Great to hear from you – I hope you and the family are doing well! We’ll have to meet up again sometime and have a few jars.

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