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    September 17, 2007

PHP|Works Atlanta 2007 Friday Wrap Up

Christopher Jones
Senior Principal Product Manager

Another cloudy day in Atlanta.  Late in the afternoon a heavy thunderstorm hit and water leaked through windows.  It cleared quickly.  But that was all outside.  Except for a couple of people daring to dash across the courtyard during the heaviest shower, everyone was concentrating on what was happening inside.

In the morning I bypassed the table with the Facebook and Tagged folk working on their presentations, and headed to Joe Stagner's keynote about what is happening at Microsoft.  His talk was nicely relaxed as he told the small audience how he got into his current role, how Microsoft now have full time employees working on open source software, and he gave a bunch of demos including showing Phalanger.  He and I share a common goal of trying to get our companies to reduce the barriers to entry.

After that, I saw Paul Reinheimer talk again.  This time he gave an intro to SPL, the Standard PHP Library.  SPL is much underused functionality which has a bunch of useful things e.g. directory iterators.

Next was Maggie "If you're not using constraints, see me afterwards" Nelson giving her second talk of the conference. In How to Optimize a Database Query she showed the positive effects of things like bind variables, and what happens to performance when you add indexes to tables (and how not to over index).  She was relying on the wifi so she could connect to a remote Oracle database.  When the net dropped for a few seconds she filled in the time by telling us about the project mosh.nokia.com she's been working on for Nokia using PHP and Oracle.  At the end of her talk she showed her secret "trick the user" technique, about how to use a fast lookup table that is refreshed frequently. Earlier I'd been given a demo of the debug console popup on each page when Maggie and the fine folk she works with develop the site.  The console automatically profiles all the SQL statements used to construct the page, or shows whether the data had been pulled from the cache.  This is great stuff I hope they talk about or even share in future.

After lunch was yet another "I want to see all three of these talks, how do I choose?" moment.  I'd heard Paul M. Jones (no relation) does a great job presenting (he does) so I went to his Framework and Application Benchmarking talk.  Paul is BDFL for the Solar framework but he  worked hard to show his testing methodology transparently.  (A quick survey showed the audience was using Zend Framework, Solar and CakePHP).  I'd been involved in some OCI8 benchmarking recently so I was interested to see how he approached the more complex problem of trying to compare multiple systems.  One take away point was that speed should not be the only consideration when choosing a framework.

The last talk I attended was Terry Chay's Finding Art in the Software Architecture which was, for some reason, the very first time I'd seen him talk.  Very much continuing in his passionate style which we love, he is not a talker to miss - unless some minor cussing brings on vapors. Much of the talk was basically an entertaining rant, covering the new floor plan at Tagged, their system architecture (they use a JDBC broker to handle their connections to the Oracle DB), and a discussion of why rapidly growing web sites need to monitor viral growth so they can predict how much hardware to buy.  He also spoke about why federated data architectures used by many high traffic sites with a large number of users don't make Active Record (e.g. Ruby on Rails) particularly usable.

[Update - missed this paragraph] My second talk, came next.  It went well.  I
gave a quick overview of the DB features that the OCI8 extension for PHP uses now, tried to give an insight into two of the many Oracle DB features out
there that PHP applications might make use of, and talked about the
Database Resident Connection Pooling that is available with Oracle Database 11g (and will be supported in a future version of the OCI8 extension).

At that high point, I then departed to the airport, successfully avoiding lengthy queues and in good time for my flight.

All in all a great little conference.  Well done php|architect crew and thanks to Oracle Technology Network for being a sponsor.

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Comments ( 3 )
  • Brian DeShong Tuesday, September 18, 2007
    Chris, nice mention on the debug console that Maggie and I demoed for you! I'll be presenting on it a bit at the Zend PHP Conference in October, so...more to come! Was a pleasure meeting you and attending your talks, too.
  • Christopher Jones Tuesday, September 18, 2007
    Thanks Brian. It was a pleasure to meet too. See you at Zend Con.
  • Cornelia Camacho Friday, May 30, 2008
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