Wednesday, November 07, 2007

At PHP Conference in Washington, DC

Here I am in Washington, DC at the PHP developer's conference.

It is a very small conference compared to say JavaOne and OSCON, but that makes it quite cozy and friendly. There are maybe 200 folks here. It's quite surprising, given how many PHP developers there are, and this appears to be the only conference in the USA besides the Zend conference that just happened.

I took the red-eye last night (first time on Jet Blue, very nice!), rented a car, and got immediately stuck in nasty stop-and-go traffic coming out of the Dulles airport. I had rented a GPS navigator, so I found the closest Metro station, parked, and did public transit into the city. I am not a car driver (I take BART to Menlo Park twice a week into Menlo Park and love it). I'll pick up my car this evening and take it to my hotel in Alexandria ($100 a night, thanks Priceline! Sun Travel couldn't find anything below $400 a night).

What, might you ask, is a Java programmer like me doing at a PHP conference in DC?

Well, I want to find out more about the PHP community, and start learning what we might be able to do in the database tooling area of NetBeans to make NetBeans useful/attractive to PHP developers.

It's not my area to build a good PHP editor, but one thing we could do is make it very easy to work with databases in PHP. But I need to find out what PHP developers care about around databases. In some ways I suspect it's what all developers care about: schema management, querying and data management. But there are subtleties, like how important is a visual query tool versus text-based query tools. How important are ORM APIs like PDO and frameworks? What kind of caching is done, if any, with things like memcached (good results from coming to this conference, already, I just found out about Facebook's open-source PHP caching technology called APC). Maybe it would be really cool to do in-place query editing, where you get code completion and syntax highlighting for SQL right inside the PHP editor, but would anyone care?

I did a survey around these kinds of things, but so far only 12 PHP developers have responded. So I'm also trying to recruit more PHP developers to fill in this very short survey. If you're a PHP hacker, please fill in the survey, it takes 10 minutes maximum.

In the meantime, as the conference moves along, I'll report back to you anything I find interesting.

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