Zoe invited me to go down to IBM Hursley yesterday to deliver my talk about building Twittex from PHPNW and to also meet the Project Zero team. I had a great time, and the folks from IBM made for a very engaging and collaborative audience. It was particularly nice to meet Ant in person; he’s currently one of the better bloggers about PHP imho and as a community we sure could use more folks writing to his standard 🙂

If you haven’t heard of it before, Project Zero is a new implementation of PHP running on top of J2SE. It gives you the ability to run PHP in an environment that eventually should out-perform the Zend Engine (which will be very welcome here), plus the ability to pull in and make use of many excellent Java libraries that have no equivalent in the PHP world (like, for example, a SOAP client that isn’t a toy …)

Higher performance is important to ISVs in particular, because as you get away from non-trivial apps and get your caching strategy mature, the bottleneck moves from the database back into the amount of CPU available for the web server. Over here in the UK, servers are expensive, and hosting them even more so. There is real money to be saved by not requiring extra servers.

But my personal interest with Project Zero is evaluating it as a platform for API integration and development. Many of the products I need to integrate with are .NET based, and their APIs make a fairly rich use of SOAP. So the first thing I’m going to try with Project Zero is a little app to merge data between our ERP platform and our project management platform – two platforms that PHP’s SOAP client struggles with at best. I’ll let you know how I get on 🙂

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It’s a bit startling to think that it’s already a fortnight since the hugely successful PHPNW 08 conference happened up in Manchester. Where has the last two weeks gone? (Actually, I know exactly where it’s gone – putting together a shopping list for new iSCSI storage, but that’s a different topic). I thought Jeremy et al ran a great conference (the single best open-source conference I’ve been to in the UK so far, and that includes the Gentoo conferences I used to run in Manchester 🙂 ) and I hope they’re able to put on another conference next year. I really enjoyed myself, and I’d forgotten how much I missed going to conferences.

I was there to talk about our experience at Gradwell with building our Twittex service in just seven days. Videos of all the talks will be available from PHPNW once the editing has been finished, but if you can’t wait, my slides are now available. A big thank you to everyone who provided feedback on the talk. If you haven’t done so yet, I’d love to hear what you thought about the talk.

It takes surgery to separate me from a camera, and the PHPNW 08 weekend was no exception. This was my first weekend with my new Panasonic DMC-LX 3 (which I bought on the journey up to the conference). I had great fun putting the camera through its paces, and you can see the results up on Flickr.

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The PHPNW08 conference is almost here. Things kick off with the social on Friday evening, and the conference proper is on Saturday (Derick’s keynote starts at 10am). There are still tickets available according to the conference website.

As well as being there to talk about how we built Twittex in 7 days, I’m very interested in meeting up with folks in the UK who are freelance web developers. I want to know more about what you want from a web hosting solution, especially what you’d like to see but can’t find anywhere in the UK atm. If that sounds interesting to you, drop me a line before the conference, and we’ll arrange to meet up during the Friday or Saturday evening socials.

And I’m also interested in talking to anyone who’s going to PHPNW08 who’s interested in building apps for VoIP too.

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I’m speaking at the PHPNW ’08 conference in November, and I’ve just been contacted for advice by someone understandably excited at going to her very first conference. Thing is, I’ve never been a conference newbie (I’ve always been either speaking or running a conference) so I’m not the best person to offer advice on this.

What would you add to this list?

  • Arrange with on-line friends to meet up either the night before or before the presentations start on the day.
  • Look for social groups (e.g. PHP Women) you can join before the conference, to see if anyone like-minded is going.
  • If the conference has more than one presentation going on at once (== multiple tracks), work out in advance which presentations you’d like to go and see. You can always change your mind afterwards 🙂
  • Bring a laptop – a lot of the conversation at the conference happens online (such as on Twitter).
  • Bring a mobile broadband card with you too (do you have mobile broadband outside the UK?), as conference wireless systems can be incredibly unreliable.
  • Be yourself, but don’t bullshit – the folks you’re trying to impress could be prospective customers, work colleagues or employers.
  • Stay for the after-conference drinks & food, where you can socialise and network.
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Speaking at PHPNW’08

Posted by Stuart Herbert on September 26th, 2008 in Conferences, News.

I’m really pleased to be speaking at the PHPNW’08 conference in Manchester on 22nd November. I’m going to be giving a behind-the-scenes look at how we built twittex.com in just 7 days from idea to live service at Gradwell dot com, warts and all, and show you what really worked for us, and what we should have done to deliver the service even quicker. I’ll be covering technology, project management, and marketing too.

The last time I spoke at a conference was on Marco’s first php|cruise back in 2004, where we enjoyed a great view from the bar. There wasn’t really a UK PHP scene back then, so I’m looking forward to seeing how that’s changed in the last four years. We built twittex in-house, but we also outsource PHP development, and I’m very interested in meeting up with folks offering PHP and symfony development who are interested in VoIP (we’re the UK’s third largest VoIP provider) and social apps, and also with anyone interested in integrating VoIP into their apps too.

See you in Manchester in November!

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PHP London Conference Is Packed Out

Posted by Stuart Herbert on February 23rd, 2007 in Conferences.

Mmm … the “sold out” sign on the PHP London Conference’s home page doesn’t do it justice. “Packed out” would be a much better description. There isn’t an empty seat in the house, and during the talks there are quite a few folks standing at the back or sitting on the floor.

It’s fantastic to see such a well-supported conference here in the UK. I don’t remember coming across anyone else from the UK at the PHP conferences I’ve been to overseas. Apart from Cal and Yair representing Zend, everyone else I’ve spoken to has been a developer. For all the attention that Rails has grabbed in the last twelve months, it’s great to see that interest in PHP if anything is stronger than it was a year ago.

If anyone’s interested in having a chat about the Why PHP? group, let me know. I’m sat on the back row just to the left of the main doors.


I’ll be making the bleary-eyed trek over from Cardiff on Friday morning (I’m more liking to be heading off to bed at 5am than getting out of one!) to the PHP Conference in London. If you’re going to the conference too, and you’d like to meet up afterwards (or over lunch) to talk about the Why PHP effort, please head on over to the group and let us know.

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