PHP Asia Conference 2018 Is Back

Hey all!

I’m excited to tell all of you something! PHP Asia Conference is back for this year! I’ve attended it in 2016 as a speaker and it was amazing. If you’ve not read my 2016 blog post, you should! It detailed my motivation and experience as a speaker.

As all of you know, I’m a PHP developer and have been involved in community events. PHP has been my main language since several years ago. PHP is used by a wide variety of frameworks and software around the world. Well known ones would be WordPress, Magneto, Laravel and even Facebook.

Ever Evolving

PHP is a language that has been improved over time with added language features and design. Despite its flaws, PHP communities strived and even formed PHP FIG to improve standardisation of frameworks. With harsh public criticism, the language was force to be improved significantly. On top that, the release of PHP 7 marked a new high for the language with its incredible performance improvements and rewritten underlying architecture.

Favourite Language & Framework

One of my favourite thing about PHP is that its very accessible and easy to use. You can open up any text editor and start writing PHP code without compiling it on your computer. Laravel’s great framework design, structure and friendly community has earned my heart as my favourite framework. Laravel has enabled me to write great applications that effectively and efficiently solve many business problems. Of course, PHP’s flexibility comes with its own disadvantages. There have been times which I’ve seen badly written code. We all make mistakes which is important that we have conferences like these where we can openly discuss and exchange ideas, and also share our mistakes and journey.

My Journey & Mistakes

I’ve learnt a lot from my mentors along my journey. These mentors have left a mark on me and I’ve always continued contributing and giving back to the community. It started with my first mentor, Smooth Porcupine. He was a Ruby programmer and taught me lots of things about PHP. Whenever I faced trouble or have a question, he would be there to help. He also taught me about philosophies and principles. He was just someone I met online that showed so much care and mentorship. Till date, I still don’t know his name. Without him, I would never have progressed till here and would have never been developed into who I am today. Through him, I’ve become westernised since young – very open and more tolerant of different views.

Learning never stops and I’m always excited about what’s there in PHP to come. This year, I’ll be helping to organize PHP Asia conference. Of course its not a one man show; its done together as a team with Michael, Zion and Robert. These folks are senior developers that are well respected in the Singapore tech community. I certainly hope that I can learn from them through helping to organize this event.

Ideals Of A Young Person

There are some ideals that I’m focused on and would like to help to make happen at PHP Asia conference. These ideals are:

  • Student Outreach
  • Accessibility
  • Transparency

Student Outreach

Firstly, I feel that student outreach is an important aspect in any tech communities. Onboarding and invitation of new members into the community relies heavily on this part. As a Ngee Ann Polytechnic alumni, I’ve always felt that outreach from the technical community to students is weak. Teachers in my school have no idea about these community meetup and conferences. Even if a student was to stumble upon these conferences, they would be scared away by the prices or fear the idea that they’ll be there alone. These are signs that we’re aren’t communicating sufficiently with students. This might result in a disconnect between what skills the working world require and the skills they learn at school.

Disconnect Between Worlds

Some students get a shock when they enter the working world with their school knowledge. As the technology moves rapidly and change quickly, the syllabus taught might have been outdated. In my opinion, the best way to keep up with these changes is to be part of the tech community – attend talks, make friends and share your experiences and knowledge.

Fear

We were taught about stranger danger when we were young. The world just seems like a scary place where a nice stranger would offer you a ride home. But then you’ll end up kidnapped and have your organs digged out; sold on the black market later on. We tend to avoid new places, afraid to explore, afraid to speak to strangers. Initially, I’ve had this fear too.

Meetups? Isn’t it dangerous to physically meet with a group of strangers?

Overcoming Fear

The only thing that made me overcome this fear was when my teacher brought a few of us for this event called, “Walkabout”. That was the first time which I interacted and met with warm and kind folks like Alex Smith. He was working with AWS at that time and I met him at the office visit to AWS with some of my schoolmates. Alas, these schoolmates never continued to go for meetups.

Teachers are the greatest catalyst for this exchange to happen and for the tech community to grow.

The first step would be attending the conference, another leap would be to be a speaker. I strongly encourage everyone, even students, to speak at this conference. A lot of students face imposter syndrome, thinking that their opinions and skill don’t matter. But honestly, I learnt from communicating with them and I think we all can benefit from sharing our own knowledge and experience. Because our journey and experiences are relatively unique and benefit others as well.

Prices

Quite a number of conferences have an exorbitant ticket fee. This high entry bar makes it difficult for students to learn from such conferences. Most of the time, the prices are high because its related to “enterprise” or it is to give a certain impression. Kudos to community conferences that offer a discounted price to students. Community conferences are suppose to benefit the community and people; not just solely profit aimed.

This is why we’ve discussed and decided that the ticket prices for PHP conference should be affordable. For students, it costs only $45 for 2 days of exciting line up, with the founder of PHP, Rasmus, being the opening keynote speaker.

Accessibility

We want to make it as accessible as possible. We try our best to accommodate to everyone’s needs, including diet! (vegan/vegetarian/halal)

This means that it is friendly towards anyone that have any forms of disabilities. Event location and needs are catered, and if you think we’ve missed out something, please let us know!

If you’re not able to attend the conference, the talks and workshops will be recorded and uploaded onto Engineers SG. Engineers SG is a voluntary team of community folks who help to document the tech scene through recording talks.

Transparency

I want to be transparent to all of you about our organizing team and how we selected the talks.

Our organizing community consists of Michael Cheng, Zion Ng, Robert Sim, Aryn Choong, Pasindu and me. Some of us use PHP on a frequent basis – Zion, Robert, Pasindu and me.

Zion actively uses PHP and Zend framework whereas Robert has involvement in WordPress communities. Pasindu is a contributor to PHP, the language itself. And then there’s me, a “not-so-frequent” contributor to a few opensource libraries – mainly documentation.

This year, all of us has agreed that our theme and focus for this year is ‘PHP’. DevOps, machine learning, etc is appreciated but would not be accepted if it is the main topic without extensive use of PHP. There were also proposals that were quite skimpy and too brief; which were rejected. Impressions of past speakers of our conference played a part in our speaker selection. We generally went for talk proposals that were more detailed and contained better depth.

If you feel that your topic is very focused on PHP and yet did not get accepted, feel free to contact me and I’ll be happy to explain to you the rationale.

Concluding Thoughts

I hope that every developer, including those who don’t use PHP, spend their time on self growth and community contributions. And I certainly hope that you will grow yourself by attending conferences (hopefully PHPConfAsia?). If you wanna grow even more, you should also try to take up involvement in the conference, for example – being a speaker, volunteer or organizer. These things have helped me a lot in my personal development and growth.

Thank you for reading and I hope to see you at PHPConfAsia 2018!

Author: Woo Huiren

Howdy, I'm a IT student who is currently serving my full time national service. I do lots of things related to IT but I have an exceptionally great love for the web and opensource, so expect me to blog a lot about it! :)

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