It was a fun week. Of course, the big news on Tuesday was Zend’s new partnership with Microsoft, which promises to make PHP perform better with Windows in general, and IIS and Windows Server 2003 in particular. Zend’s own branch of PHP, Zend Core, will include even more improvements. Both Zend and Microsoft were obviously excited by the announcement, and I’ve got to admit that I was pretty impressed by the ease of configuring PHP in IIS 7. They showed some in-house benchmarks, but I’ll be interested to see some independent tests conducted when the final product ships (sometime next year?).
At some point during the same keynote, MySQL AB CEO Mårten Mickos jumped on stage for about seven seconds just to brag about what we already know—that MySQL is the most-used database with PHP. I wish he had spent a few more seconds, then, and explained why they clearly don’t bother to test their installations with PHP, since the default installation of MySQL prevents PHP from compiling if it also has OpenSSL (a somewhat common package).
In any event, the hot topics for this year were scalability and security, and there were lots of sessions on both. Eli White, the senior developer over at Digg, gave a great talk on scaling techniques (OpenOffice Impress format). George Schlossnagle, lead developer of APC and, frankly, entirely too many other PECL packages, followed up with his own excellent talk on scalability (PDF), which was naturally a bit more focused on caching.
Unit testing also got a deserving nod from Sebastian Bergmann, creator of PHPUnit. His talk hammered home the test-first methodology and also revealed some new functionality in the upcoming PHPUnit 3, including being able to automatically run Selenium tests. That’s hot.
I should also mention that Chris Anderson, author of The Long Tail, gave an excellent keynote on Wednesday. It wasn’t particularly tailored to apply to PHP, though, as one questioner pointed out. Still, I’m just as (if not more) interested in business strategy as I am in software development, so I loved it. Plus, we all got free hardcover copies of his new book, so that was nice (I picked up two—my boss wanted one). Maybe it’s just because he’s been touting the concept for awhile, but I was impressed at how on the ball he was with the Q&A session at the end.
Andrei Zmievski of Yahoo!, though, won the prize for having far and away the most interesting session of the week—”Unicoding with PHP” (PDF). He walked through in great detail the challenges of creating a Unicode-aware PHP 6 that (almost) transparently handles the hellish details of the standard. I’m guessing the Japanese user-base is drooling in anticipation of being able to (among other things) use hiragana, katakana, and kanji to represent variables instead of the Latin alphabet. Andrei promised a PHP 6 Unicode pre-release to get the functionality out there and tested, so keep an eye out for that. I’ll link to it when it’s available. Update: Here it is.
Last but not least, the Zend Framework get-together was one of the highlights of the week. Meeting Gavin, Darby, Bill, Andi, and all the rest of the Zend crew (along with contributors and users like Richard and Keith) in person was great, and I got a t-shirt. BONUS.
Anyway, that’s enough for this post, and I haven’t even covered half of it. Really, if you haven’t been before and you’re interested in PHP, you really should make some time to go next year. Plus, you know… t-shirts!
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