This year I had the chance to participate, along with fellow Steven Bressey from Kaliop, to the PhpSummerCamp/eZSummerCamp event.
It is a 3-days long conference, entirely dedicated to hands-on workshops, which takes place at the end of summer in Croatia, organized by Netgen.
I had participated to the first edition in 2012, which took place on the island of Bol, but missed the other two episodes.
Other participants have also given their recap of the story. Here’s my very opinionated takeaways of this year’s installment:
Croatia is lovely. All conferences should take place there
Even when fully packed with tourists, the small historic city of Rovinj is gorgeously beautiful. Nothing energizes your coding day like a healthy breakfast on sunny a terrace overlooking the sea and a triathlon training, and nothing is as good for team-building with other participants as great dinners and long after-dinners on the harbour. Just watch out for the odd finnish guy who gets into more technical and more philosophical discourse the drunker he is, and can keep you enthralled in crazy conversations from dusk till dawn.
Props to Netgen for the boat trip on the last day as well, flawlessly organized and a much needed distraction after three very intense hands-on-the-keyboard days.
Oh, and did I mention that temperature and average rainfall just blow the London summer out of the water?
Workshops delivery is hard (on both sides of the fence)
Having felt the pain in the past of the ‘walk-through-the-workshop-at breakneck-speed-because-there-is-too-much-to-do’ on both sides of the fence, I would go as far as making 2 hours the minimum acceptable length.
The almost-good things are:
- it is really hard to assess the level of your audience and produce something which is not boring and yet understandable for everybody in the room, especially when the audience is large. In my opinion the workshop on continuous integration was a bit simple, given that most participants had already some experience in the topic. On the contrary, the workshop on eZPublish5 performance went very fast, with the speaker having prepared a lot of code but the audience having barely the time to switch between branches and understanding what was going on. The workshop on eZPlatorm API eschewed those problems altogether by adopting a ‘walk through the documentation’ approach instead of hands-on coding, but was less than ideal imho.
- some speakers had been honing their gits up to the very last minute, with the expected gotchas cropping up during the execution
- some speakers had unfortunately gotten sick at the very last moment, and it was hard to hear their voices. Code projected on the big screen was also sometimes hard to read (can we please have black text on white background at conferences, everybody?)
VM technology is still far from a turnkey solution
At least for the developers running windows (which, I have to admit, are becoming a rarity at php conferences), despite all the effort put in by the organizers, the images prepared for the conference did not work perfectly well.
Vagrant is a fantastic tool, but Virtualbox file shares and symlinks are not friends, and there is no universal network-based-file-sharing-between-host-and-guest which can be automatically configured on Linux, Mac and Windows.
This makes me just sad, thinking how long virtualization has been around.
The php community has come a long way from its humble beginnings, and it still has a lot of momentum
A lot of talks were about ‘software engineering’ practices like oop design, modelling, code refactoring, continuous integration and profiling. I am not sure if this is enough to dispel the myth of “php is the Visual Basic of the Web”, but there is definitely an increasing level of knowledge and complexity being tackled here.
Symfony has the lion share of php frameworks
But Laravel developers compensate for being the minority with a lot of evangelisation.
The eZPublish Community is starting to get to grips with version 5 of the CMS
While it is probably true that the share of eZ developers at the conference versus non-eZ ones is dwindling over time, this year some interesting work and ideas were presented from community members, which all has something to share after presumably using eZ in production for more than a couple projects.
CJW presented an interesting set of bundles to shorten development time by making eZ5 look almost like eZ4, and patch in some functionality still missing in the upstream (information-collector integrated with Symfony forms? Yummy!)
Kuborgh presented a crazy-but-it-works-for-us approach to scaling the CMS data model for extreme performances when there is a lot of data at play and little caching is possible.
Netgen and Locastic presented the smooth integration between eZ and Sylius webshop which has already been made available as an oss package.
Last but not least, Kaliop presented a slim but useful bundle which can be used as basis to keep organized code for eZ sites with good speed of execution for the uncached case.
It is my opinion that what is missing at this moment is probably a revamped version of the projects.ez.no website, where all of these packages can be listed, rated and discussed, giving a good corpus of information to both developers approaching the CMS for the first time and switching from eZPublish 4.
Lots of good workshops, interesting discussions with other developers and a great location. Will definitely come back next time.