ScotlandPHP

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From the photo, it may look like I have just returned from PHP Brazil. But alas, I was actually attending ScotlandPHP in Edinburgh. They didn’t have any ScotlandPHP elephants, but did have a few PHP Brazil elephants – bit random – so I picked up one of those instead. Maybe next year.

Despite missing out on a trip to Brazil, I did enjoy myself and learn some new stuff. Before I go into what talks I attended, I thought I would do a quick summary of the good and bad.

Good:

There were lots of interesting talks, and it was nice to meet up with other developers who specialise in PHP. It was also nice to find out what’s happening in the PHP community in general. Furthermore, they had a lot of coffee, which was very welcome at 8:30am on a Saturday morning. Still not great with an early weekend start.

Bad:

The talks were on the short side (around 40 mins each) which meant that, although I didn’t get bored, a few of the talks didn’t go into as much detail as I would have liked. I guess it’s a bit of balancing act, if they had been longer, people – including me – may well have switched off. Another small complaint was that the schedule was pretty tightly packed, so there wasn’t too much downtime between talks to catch up with other attendees. With that said, the good far outweighed the bad.

The Talks:

So, what did I learn? Well, lots of things after listening to the following talks:

1. Taming Change
2. Xdebug 3.0
3. Serverless PHP applications with Bref
4. The Future of Authentication – WebAuthn with PHP
5. Legacy Code – Testing and Safe Refactoring
6. Imposter Syndrome: Am I Faking It?
7. Writing Effective PHP

I don’t think there was one bad talk amongst them, but I must admit that I got a bit lost following the talk on Xdebug. It’s a technology that I’m not familiar with, but I did at least take away some of the benefits of using it.

A few of the talks covered how to write better code (and were a good attend), but the stand out talk for me was on: Serverless PHP applications with Bref, which I discuss below.

Serverless PHP

Serverless PHP is a slightly misleading name – obviously you need a server(s) to run code – but serverless PHP makes managing servers a whole lot easier and allows developers to focus on development and less on servers.

With serverless PHP, you purchase usage time from a cloud provider like Amazon’s AWS, upload your code and let them take care of rest. If your application needs to scale, you don’t need to worry about setting up extra servers, load balancing, etc. The cloud provider handles this for you. Similarly, if you need to down scale, you don’t need to worry about removing servers to save money. Again, this is all done for you.

Server management and orchestration is a pain, and serverless PHP eliminates a lot of the headaches associated with this.

One of the biggest advantages of serverless PHP is you only pay for what you use, which is especially good for companies who have fairly low usage, but occasional spikes in traffic. In the past, this sort of scenario would mean that you would need a pretty big server setup to handle the spikes, but most of the time you server setup wouldn’t be doing a whole lot – and you would have to pay for that. With serverless PHP, your server setup will be small when you have low traffic (and cheap) and scale up to handle spikes (obviously you will pay a bit more during these times) and then scale back down when your traffic drops. You pay for usage not servers.

Summary

I really enjoyed my time at PHPScotland – apart from the small niggles (what can I say, I’m a born complainer) – and would most definitely recommend attending to other developers in the University. Also, although not mentioned previously, there is something for everyone, whether you are just starting out coding or have been doing it for years. Hopefully, I’ll get the chance to go again next year, or failing that : PHP Brazil.

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