Hi, I’m Matthew, though everyone calls me Matt. I’ve been developing with PHP since a chance encounter in 1999, one which I’ll always be grateful for.

Since that time, I’ve written plain vanilla PHP, object-oriented PHP, and anything and everything in between. I’ve created my own CMS and as a result learned both why that can be a good thing, as well as a not so good thing.

As a result of that experience, I sought out frameworks to ease the load of repetitive work which underpins every application. Work which includes forms, output escaping, routing, dispatching and so on.

Starting with Zend Framework 1, then to Zend Framework 2, and most recently to Zend Framework 3, along with a number of other frameworks, such as Symfony. It’s been an interesting journey over the years, one which it might seem from what I’ve written so far was one which was purely technical.

But nothing could be further from the truth. Whilst the technical aspect definitely makes up a large component, without the human aspect, I’d never have stayed with it for the years which I have.

And that’s why I want to share with you that for me, the most important aspect of PHP has been the community of wonderful, caring, sharing, and highly educated people I’ve had the pleasure or knowing.

MY Journey In A NuTshell

It started with the amazing bunch I first met in London, when I worked at iBuildings (you know who you are). Then there were the people who I’ve met by attending a range of conferences, including PHP UK Conference, in London, and PHP South Coast in Portsmouth.

Then there’s all those who I’ve met on IRC, Twitter, email, Slack, and all the other mediums which we all use on a daily basis. Then there’s the wonderful opportunity I had just recently to be a conference speaker, speaking for the first time at PHP World in Washington D.C.

I know this likely sounds like I’m bragging, and that’s something which goes against the grain of who I am. I’m honestly not meaning it that way. This is an honest reflection of the journey I’ve had over the years – thanks to PHP.

I Encourage You to Get Involved

Given the good fortune I’ve had in my own life, I want to encourage you, if you aren’t too involved in the community, to start getting involved. It needn’t be in big ways.

Because sometimes going from no involvement to being totally involved, like my mate @developerjack, is a big step. And it is. But it can be done. Here’s how. Take little steps. If you’re not involved in any way, then start with something little.

Not Sure How?

If you’re stuck for examples, start by becoming a regular at your local user group. Don’t have a local user group? Then how about starting one?

Now that might seem a bit daunting – and to be fair it’s something I’ve not done myself.

But from what I hear, all you need to get started is to know at least four other people, and then hang out on a regular basis, talking about PHP. At least that’s what Cal Evans (and others) say.

Really, that’s all it takes!

If you do have a local user group, and you’re already a member, the next step is to start blogging. This is something I’ve done for the last four or more years, and really enjoy.

I admit I’ve not always done it on a regular basis. But then it doesn’t need to be something regular. You can do it whenever you have something to say, something to share, and most of all, have the time.

Why Blog? Because you have the opportunity to share what you’ve learned, whether recently or over the years, with others. In doing so, you have the opportunity to help them to help themselves, just as others gave you that opportunity.

Already Blogging? What about public speaking? It needn’t be at a conference as a speaker, though all it takes to get started is to submit a CFP.

You could start by sharing what you know in a lightning talk at your local user group, or in the virtual user group NomadPHP. They’re always looking for enthusiastic developers to share what they know.

Anyway, I think I’ve gone on too long, and pressed my point far enough. Whatever your experience level, whether you’re an introvert or an extravert, or anywhere in the middle, please consider getting involved in the community, or increasing your involvement.

It’s the community which makes us all special. It’s the community which helps us grow and be better developers. It’s the community which makes what we do worthwhile. So please consider being involved in any way you can. It will give you back far more than you give it.