The PHP revolution in 2015

If you were a PHP developer, you can state that 2015 was an epic year! Many things occured this year that had small or big effects in your role as PHP developer.

20 Years of PHP

First of all 2015 is the year we can celebrate 20 years of PHP as Rasmus Lerdorf released his first version of PHP/FI on June 8, 1995. Back then PHP was nothing more than a bunch of C classes that allowed Rasmus to build dynamic web applications in an easier way than was possible with CGI driven Perl sites. Little did he know that his contribution would change the world.

Today PHP is responsible for more than 80% of all web sites on the Internet, maybe even a bit more if we were able to look behind firewalls and proxies. Businesses depend heavily on PHP for their main source of income (selling products or services) or have PHP become part of their business intelligence (ERP, CRM, CMS) or even beyond regular computer usage (e.g. license plate recognition, traffic monitoring or even control bridges).

I only got in touch with PHP in 2001, but I’ve seen the technology and the community behind it grow into an awesome ecosystem where there’s a general behaviour of sharing and doing good. I feel myself privileged to be a part of this wonderful community.

Major Version Milestones

Only last month we could already enjoy the release of Magento 2, the major e-commerce platform build on PHP, Drupal 8, the leading CMS platform build ontop of Symfony Framework, and Symfony 3, the leading PHP framework to build robust, dynamic web applications.

It’s not done yet! Members of PHP core have completed and tagged PHP 7.0.0 on December 1, the biggest milestone change since PHP 5 dating back in July 2004. If you want to know what’s new under the hood of this release, I can recommend getting the free e-book “Upgrading to PHP 7” by Davey Shafik.

The years ahead

With these new releases available, and the global trend to connect everything together over the internet (IoT), we will see more API’s being created to streamline all of this. With PHP 7 you get extra power and performance to compete with other technologies. 

Improved security tools to encrypt privacy data, hashing of passwords and secure communications between services and devices makes PHP a technology that will provide jobs and opportunities for decades to come. If you’re a student and like adventure, PHP might give you an exciting future!

Get on board and start building the future today!

Why you have to give a talk in 2016

I love to hang around with my friends, being on a party or have any kind of company around me, but on the other side I avoid starting any kind of conversation. I still don’t know if I’m just shy or an introvert, there are others who can judge that better, and I know that a lot of developers are struggling with that. So you can imagine how a usergroup or conference normally looks like for me? Of course I enjoy the talks, but hide from every break, networking-event or the even so highly praised hallway tracks. But as already mentioned, if a conversation has been started I enjoy it, I would just never break the ice.

I visited my first usergroup only four years ago and learned a lot about new technologies on that evening, but also left the building as soon as the talks had been over, to avoid starting to talk to anyone. I was always keen about learning something new, e.g. read a lot of books and have been active in online communites, but going to a usergroup is all that compressed into a small 30 or 45 minutes slot. Which is great, to get a look into something new. I was also impressed by these cool guys on stage talking about their fancy technology stuff and everyone was looking up to them.

From that on I visited this usergroup regularly and also went to other events like unconferences and barcamps, to learn new stuff all over the time. Finally, I also wanted to be one of these cool guys on the stage. But it took me two more years to pick a topic, where I had at least some experienced knowledge, to not look dumb when being on stage. Then I brought all my courage together, to talk at a barcamp. Already weeks ago I prepared all slides and did a dozen of rehearsals. Anyway on that day when I had to give the talk I was literally shitty nervous. I even hated giving the talk itself, but from that point on some people knew me and a bunch of them were coming after the talk and started a conversation about exactly that topic. So it was perfect to have a topic to talk about, and I could even choose it as I gave the talk.

Starting to talk definitely changed my life as a developer. I enjoyed  the conversations afterwards so much, that I applied to a bunch of more local small events. At the same time Davey Shafik also offered his help in writing an abstract. Thanks to him, I also had now a professional abstract. Btw for help on writing an abstract there’s a fabulous page these days at Now I got even accepted to bigger commercial conferences, where I have never been before as I would never pay so much money for it. :p

All that went extremely fast. Just a year later I was invited to talk at an intercontinental event, have been allowed to write several articles for magazines and even got offered a contract to write a book. Lanyrd claims that I was speaking at over 30 events in only two years, no matter how many events it have been, I’ve never learned so much interesting stuff and never met so many cool people. Talking about cool people, what I also experienced is that these guys on stage aren’t that cool at all. They’re just normal developers, so when you see one of them, just sit by them and if they don’t talk to you they might not be arrogant, but just be even more shy than you are. 😉

Since then I always try to concinve people to give a talk on their own. But don’t worry if you’re nervous, that’s a point for most of us. Even after all that talks I’ve made, I’m still super nervous before most of the talks. It’s also weird that I fear small groups of 10 – 20 people way more than big audiences of hundreds. Another point I often here is that people say they don’t have something to talk about. That’s not true! Even if there’s nothing interesting for you in your daily job, what are you currently looking at in a side-project? You’re not an expert in that? That’s not a problem, you might become an expert by talking about the topic. I frequently just state in the beginning that I don’t have too much knowledge and are very open for any additions from the audience. Still most of the audience will learn something new, as they have no experience at all in that topic, and I as a speaker will also learn something new from the one expert in the audience who is adding his thoughts. As long as you don’t claim being an expert noone will condemn you, if you don’t know the answer for a specific question.

Last but not least, of course before starting to speak and during all the time, I also tried to learn a lot about the speaking process itself. So I gathered a bunch of links about speaking, which I want to share with you. I hope there’s also something interesting for you in it!

Seeing what happend in the last 2-3 years by actively participating in the community, I’m happily looking forward to 2016 and also wish you a happy new year!

I missed the PHPamily

As 2014 progressed, I found out about mental health, and what it can do to you. As I attended the Open Sourcing Mental Illnesses talk by Ed Finkler at TrueNorthPHP in November 2013 a lot of Ed’s stories felt uncomfortably close to me.  That which I had thought was part of life had a name. And something could be done about it. As I attended the Mental Health Summit at php[tek] in 2014 and heard the stories of more people with mental health issues I decided it was time to get help. I started talking to my wife about it, and my doctor directed me to a therapist.

Some of those sessions were hard. I scheduled them during days I was not really supposed to do anything, because sometimes I’d come back from a session and be drained of energy in such a way that I literally could not do anything afterwards.

Up until that point I was doing a lot of conferences. Mostly as a speaker, sometimes as a delegate. I decided that it was time for a break. I would not do any conferences, with the exception of conferences I was invited to do a keynote at (which was still something I had never done and really wanted to do). And so as PHPNW14 was over, I headed home with the plan to take that time to save some energy and be back at the whole conference adventure starting at PHPNW15.

Not doing any conferences taught me a couple of things. First of all, it taught me that conferences, as much fun as they are, take a lot of energy. The result of not doing any conferences for a year was that I had a lot more time and energy for other things. I have the utmost respect for some of the regular speakers that do multiple conferences in a row and are still able to have a life. I definitely learned that even with my modest amount of conferences every year, it was actually too much. As it turned out, low energy had a bad effect on my mental health. As I’d get into conferences again, I should do less conferences. Not an easy thing to do, but in the end, (mental) health is more important.

Another thing I learned though is how much of a family the PHP community is to me. As months went by without attending conferences, I realised how much I missed meeting the people from the community. PHP community members are like those family members that live far away and you don’t speak to often. If you don’t talk to them at all anymore, you start missing them.

Despite the occassional riot strong discussion in the community, the PHP community is awesome. During my year off, I had 2 occassions to meet the family: I was invited to keynote at the unKonf in Mannheim and I attended Dutch PHP Conference. Those occassions to meet the family were fantastic, and made me realise how much I missed the people in that family.

If you have never been to a conference, I urge you to make it a new years resolution to attend one. If you’ve been at a conference before or are a conference regular: Consider the amount of awesome people around you when you’re at a conference. Thank you, PHPamily, for being so incredibly awesome and supportive of all members.

We speak PHP

At this memorable times we are facing the general availability of PHP 7.0.0. It is a huge celebration occasion for everyone along the core team, folks who test, report bugs, research security, document, publicize or contribute in any other ways from around the world. As much as bringing the huge performance improvements and many new features like scalar and return type hints, 64-bit consistency, new Exception hierarchy and a lot of others, all the more PHP 7 reveals, how considerable the community foundation actually is.

Every contribution counts. It were not thinkable to see PHP reaching to the top in the extent observable today without the strong support of so many, be it individuals, open source projects or even companies. The society of PHP is something that supplements PHP as a programming language, and that has a very special value and power. We, all around the world, having many various interests and speaking many different languages indeed speak same – PHP.

Let’s drink a glass champagne on the PHP community! The next PHP version is already on the horizon, and we know what is the force that keeps driving it up.

Be Involved in the Community

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.

Why am I contributing my time for others?

People always wonder why we are doing the things we do in these open source communities, especially here in the PHP community. I even ask myself, “Why am I contributing my time for others?”.

What is the true meaning of Christmas? While there are many other meanings, here is one of my favorites:

“to give up one’s very self — to think only of others — how to bring the greatest happiness to others — that is the true meaning of Christmas”[1]

This can be compared to the PHP community. Most of us are here because we are giving back. We are here to give to others and do selfless acts to make the community a better place. We are here to bring happiness to others.

As an organizer of a PHP meetup and PHP conference, I do this for the purpose of giving back to the community for being so great to me.

What makes the PHP community so special? Why did I choose to be in it?

I first got into the PHP community since I was teaching PHP courses and wanted to increase my knowledge. This is how I found the meetup. The rest is history.

The community will always have a special place in my heart. I have seen so much positivity and greatness from everyone. Each person empowers each other. Each person tells each other what their strengths are and the good things they see in each other.

The PHP community has helped me find greatness in myself.

This is the spirit of Christmas. This is the spirit of the PHP community.

Let’s keep spreading the greatness and happiness to others. Thank you to each and every contributor that allows the PHP community flourish.

  1. The American magazine, vol. 28 (1889), p. 742.