Last week, I attended the PHP Benelux Conference 2016. It was the 7th edition of the conference but the first time for me to attend it. The conference took 2 days and started with a tutorial.
I decided to book a hotel and use the shuttle bus service to travel between my hotel and the conference. Although this service was excellent, I noticed that the bus was rather empty. I wonder if many people actually used the service? Or maybe I was just too early or too late?
I started the first day with a tutorial in ElasticSearch. I was expecting the tutorial to be more hands on, but the tutorial was more of a thorough explanation. Not what I was expecting, but I managed to learn some cool new stuff about ElasticSearch.
Cal Evans opened the conference with a great keynote. People amaze me when they start a talk with a completely different subject. Yet half way they can tie this into the actual conference subject. He did a great talk about PHP user groups and it was really an eye opener.
Afterwards I went to a talk by Rafael Dohms about writing better code. It's really pleasant to listen to Rafael. The object calisthenics he talked about were great. In fact, they are now hanging on our wall in our office as a reminder!
Also I was impressed by the talk about caching by Samantha Quinones. I love PHP but I have a second love with servers and server management. It was really nice to see how some real systems in this world are set up rather than a foobar example.
I went to two talks by Jordi Boggiano. Especially his regex talk was really interesting. I have a love-hate relationship with regexes so it was great to get some new information about those. I still believe regex is a language on its own.
Another great speaker was Enrico Zimuel. He gave me some real nice insides on a security level. He had a great talk about encrypting an decrypting data. He gave some nice examples of implementing public-private keypairs and encrypting data with the openSSL extension.
The final speaker I wanted to write about is Matthias Noback. He gave a great talk about hexagonal architecture. I already saw his package design talk back at the Dutch PHP Conference. Matthias also has a real pleasant voice and story to listen to. And again he delivered a stunning presentation!
Of course there were more great speakers and talks I loved. The ones mentioned above where my all time favorites though.
Between all those talks, we had a lunch and dinner break. The lunch was well-arranged. There was enough variety in choices of food and the queues were of an okay length. The dinners were also great. Especially the fries were perfect! The downside however was the enormous waiting queue.
Of course there was also room for some beers at the end of each day. These socials were great and the atmosphere between people was awesome. I think the bumper cars were the highlight of those socials. So much pain, yet so much fun!
There were some things that could be improved in my eyes. For example I think the raffle was a long wait. Why don't print a number on each badge and then raffle on-screen? Also I think the signs in which room which tutorial was taking placing could be improved.
Lastly I think it would be nice to have some kind of aftermath. I noticed that I have to search online for the slides of the speakers. Some just place it on speakerdeck, others place it on their own website or post a link on their twitter. Maybe links to all slides could be added to the conference website at the end for quick and easy access? Someone just has to collect them.
All in all, I had an awesome weekend and would recommend everyone to go to PHP Benelux 2017!