A report from the trenches

International PHP Conference Spring 2012
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Web & PHP editor Louis Goddard flew over to Berlin at the beginning of May for the last two days of IPC Spring. Here’s his account of what he saw, where he went and who he spoke to.

There are very few things in this world that can reconcile me to getting up at 4 a.m. Even the prospect of two days of stimulating PHP sessions wasn’t enough to put me in a good mood earlier this month, as I sped through suburban London to catch a 6:30 a.m. flight to Berlin. Croydon isn’t a beautiful place at the best of times; in the early hours, it’s an eerie ghost town, half-lit by street lamps and populated by strange, between-times figures – stragglers from the night before or the earliest of early-morning commuters. Still, after a quick breakfast at Gatwick and half an hour’s sleep on the plane, I was feeling a bit more like myself, and by the time I got to the Maritim proArte hotel for IPC Spring, the fog of sleep had well and truly lifted and I was ready for action.

First up was Facebook’s Sara Golemon on HipHop, the company’s revolutionary PHP-to-C++ compiler. She explained how PHP is much ‘safer’ from an engineering perspective than C/C++ and how it offers a significantly larger pool of development talent, a view that I’d first heard expressed by Rasmus Lerdorf back at PHP UK in February. Apparently, the internal shift from standard Apache and interpreted PHP to HipHop had concrete, bottom-line benefits at Facebook, allowing the company to delay an expensive server upgrade. Sara explained the basics of XHP, Facebook’s contextaware combination of PHP and XML, and was remarkably candid about the bureaucracy and ‘paperwork’ that’s keeping some of the newest HipHop features from reaching the public – “we’re bad at communicating”, she admitted.

When Sara’s talk was over, I headed over to the conference floor for a surprisingly vegetarian-friendly lunch. My previous xperience of German cuisine had led me to expect a feast of sausages and ham, but there was plenty of greener items on offer – when I tweeted my surprise, fellow vegetarian Stefan Koopmanschap replied: “that’s good! Shame I’m not there”. Re-energised, it was time to settle down for a chat with Zend Framework’s Chief Architect Matthew Weier O’Phinney in the lobby.


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