It All Starts With A Story And I’m No Exception.
On that December 2008, someone bought the domain 7php.com. It might seem a trivial thing, but there’s a whole story behind – the 7PHP story. While the story is a bit long, I did my best to cut it short, just to focus on the main area of concern – that is, the magics and amazement behind PHP & The PHP Community. But know that, it’s important to tell it because what comes as the “after” started because of the “start”.
My Late ‘IT’ Entrance & The First Meeting With That “PHP” Language
I am a very late comer to the IT scene and Internet world. I was a science student, fond of Additional Maths beyond what you can imagine. I touched my first PC at the age of 19 years old. (A shocker right?) I was suddenly the only student in my University class who was ‘touching’ his first PC and first taste of programming. I was in a batch of around 80+ students who were most of them like skillful voracious IT literate. I say voracious because they were all here for one thing: to achieve the highest possible score for the final 3yrs-degree course. Most of them did it in the most selfish way they ever could. This was no easy thing for me.
Along my self-paced journey, I started to install things like wordpress, SMF forums..etc I was quite amazed by how fast I could install them. Digging deeper, I saw they all had ONE thing in common – they were all PHP-based. Wow, wait a minute, what is that PHP? I never heard about it.. That curiosity lead me to even do my final year project with PHP as the core language of choice.
I Bought The Domain 7PHP.com
In year 2008, I started my first job. No it was not PHP, but C#.NET (yet another new, but amazing thing I learned). But my passion and focus for PHP was still there at night. With the small salary I got, I decided to invest in buying myself a domain with the keyword PHP. I wanted it to be short, but also meaningful. At that time, the .COM boom was I think around it’s second-half (or something) of its explosion and hence good 3-letter and 4-letter word domains were almost all taken up. But to my great surprise (after a whole night searching like crazy for all combinations), the domain 7PHP and PHP7 were available (w00t!). After much thought, I went for 7php.com because at that time I thought PHP would probably arrive at version 7 (yes I tend to think ahead of time at times). I do not want to create a confusion between ‘what-I-would-do-with-it’ and PHP 7 as a language version (Although if I had enough spare finance, I would have bought both if you asked. And I wished I did because I would have happily put it to the service of the community or donated it for the right purpose since PHP7 finally came this year). Also the number 7 has a key significance in the Football soccer world (I was a Man Utd fan and 7 is emblematic) and was prestigious – which made me go for 7php.com instead of say phpthat.com for example.
But the domain sat there idle in my account with no real purpose. I do not know for what real reason I bought it, but something in me triggered that. And bought it, I simply did.
I Started Micro-Blogging on 7PHP.com
In March 2010, I was already in another job now doing PHP fulltime. I then started blogging on 7PHP mainly as a backlog of all the issues, solutions (and rambling) while I was using PHP – I needed a journal to keep everything in place for future reference. Done deal!
In year 2011, I was going through one of the most difficult moments of my life – my parents got separated and at my (yet new) work place too, things became very bad. I got an evil CTO and a group of new (unfriendly) dishonest
friends colleagues. I was out of job in mid 2012.
Fast-forwarding a couple of months, December was already here. I was sitting down at my (broken) home with my thoughts. It was also time for me to take a decision on whether to renew the 7php domain or to let go.
The December Festivities Time, Is Not For Everyone Unfortunately
In December 2011 when everyone was enjoying, I was not. I sat down, sad, broken but not discouraged with what I can achieve. I asked myself 2 questions:
1) What do I really want NOW (at that moment).
The answer given inside me was: “I want to enjoy being in touch with PHP because that is currently the only thing making me happy in my life. And also I want to reach out to people outside of Mauritius (as I was fed up with the selfish Mauritian mentality)”
2) How can I achieve that?
To reach out to the World I need to step out of what I was currently doing with my blog. I felt I cannot achieve this with tutorials or code scripts because there were too many-many great ones and I’m not a rockstar in PHP programming.
Thinking deeper, I had four things in my possession: ‘writing skills + a blog + a passion for PHP + an urge to mingle with like-minded people’. That night I decided I wanted to interview prominent people in the PHP world.
It was to be a mission of either “the PHP world is made of good people or I quit” and “either I live or I die”. If things were to go negative at that time, that would probably have been an end to my PHP passion, my domain name and my PHP career. Fortunately for me, hope came in!
The PHP World, Is Actually Made of Good People
On that December, I emailed a couple of prominent PHPers. I relied on my personal judgement to contact these people as I was not yet part and parcel of the PHP world (The PHPeople). I was delighted to see responses coming in from people that I contacted. Five of them responded fast (namely Chris Tankersley, Enrico Zimuel, Michelangelo van Dam, Stefan Koopmanschap, Ivo Jansch) and they ALL communicated ONE thing “you are doing a great initiative, welcome to the PHP world”.
That sense of ‘positivity, friendliness and welcoming’ that emanate from those PHPers, is something I NEVER saw when I mingled with the C and JAVA people.
I rushed to my mum crying with happiness: “look! prominent people in the WORLD is responding to ME, we are not a failure.”
The PHP World and it’s people are the Magical “The PHP Community”
As you have noticed I have named the first 5 people because they somehow held my hands on that cliff. This gave rise to a whole new horizon full of hope. Which in turn boosted me in starting to reach out to more and more people instantly. While doing that, I was even more surprised and humbled, 99.9% of all the people I reached out, responded positively. During all my interaction with the PHPeople, they all had the following characteristics:
- friendly and welcoming response
- an amazing dissipation of generosity and sharing
- a true sense of purpose – to serve the community in their best possible way
- to help grow the community irrespective of skills, culture, color, sex, philosophy or age
So in Jan 2012 I started the “real” 7PHP which focuses on interviewing people & entities that are part and parcel of The PHP Community.
The PHP Community Go Beyond Your Imagination – It’s A Family
My communication with so many amazing people, gave me a lot of happiness. I was delighted to keep doing 7PHP and I was also sharing part of my personal life’s happiness with (some of) them. What I did not imagine in my wildest dream, is that The PHP Community is more than a Living entity. It listens carefully. It reaches out to you when you least expect. It cares in the most caring way you can ever imagine. I have found a new family and many sincere friends.
Here are some concrete examples:
1) I have received so many gifts – including 4 amazing unique elePHPants from different people around the globe.
2) In Oct 2014, I was able to attend my FIRST PHP conference, namely PHP North – all fully sponsored.
3) In Feb 2015, I attended my 2nd PHP conference, namely the Sunshine PHP conference. See pics here and here.
This gift was announced on the March 2014 as a surprise by Cal Evans, see this Youtube Video – Community Gives Back.
4) On the 9th July 2014, Joe Watkins was in a tough moment of his life and the WHOLE PHP Community stepped up to “help him get a leg up”, see here.
From Nobody To Someone known as 7PHP Thanks To The PHP Community
I’m really humbled and thankful to ALL of you that forms part of The Magical PHP Community and has played (is playing) a vital part in my life AND in the life of so many other people. I was just a concrete example. But there has been many example in the past and will have more examples in the future.
When I attended the two conferences at those different parts of the world, I was amazed with how many people (unknown to me), reached to say hello just because they knew about about 7PHP. That is a truly unique and amazing thing.
Step Forward Without Expecting Anything In Return
While doing 7PHP, I have done so with the best of my abilities, even if that needed me to spend countless hours even at night and on weekends. But I have never expected anything in return because I was enjoying it. It did not matter how much I have to invest myself in it – what matters is the “feeling of being happy doing it”.
From my personal experience so far, I would advise anyone that has passion for The PHP Community & PHP, to stay true to their passion – just do it, just keep at it if it makes you happy. It’s worth more than you can imagine before you even realise!
Remember this: “The Community Matters”.
Before I End..
Words will never be enough to relate my story (yeah a book may be, I hear you 🙂 ). And words will always fall short in thanking all of you. I cannot mention specific names as this is a team community work – (Community Works!). But know that, I’m eternally so much grateful and thankful in my heart to all of you.
PHP and The PHP Community have really transformed my life!
It has never been an exciting time to be PART of the PHP revolution happening as of this 2015 onwards. So don’t ask yourself too much questions, get onboard THE magical & unique Community that is “The PHP COMMUNITY” Bandwagon. ~ Wasseem Khayrattee