We attended the second edition of SymfonyCon in Madrid

von Edi Modrić -

Three weeks ago SensioLabs, the company behind Symfony framework, organized the second edition of SymfonyCon, the official Symfony conference. This year the event was set in Madrid, Spain and was attended by close to 700 people from all around the world.

Same as last year, SymfonyCon spanned five days: the first two days were reserved for training, the conference itself was held over the next two days while the last day was reserved for Symfony hacking, where one had a chance to win a bike. We (Mario and myself) only took part in the conference days.

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Fabien Potencier delivered opening keynote presenting the current state of Symfony community and Symfony itself. The biggest takeaways were the creation of Symfony installer, an intuitive shell command to bootstrap new Symfony projects, the beginning of so-called DX (Developer eXperience) initiative started by Ryan Weaver, as well as (at that time) imminent release of Symfony 2.6.

On the first day of the conference, we listened about Elcodi, which tends to be a drop-in replacement for Sylius, but for those who require something less complicated. Frank de Jonge introduced FlySystem, file system (local or remote) abstraction library for PHP which is, of course, available to Symfony via bundle. eZ Publish is also using this library internally to abstract its file storage, which is cool! After Frank, Ryan Weaver presented the Symfony DX initiative which is trying to do for developers what UX movement does for users. Basically, the point of the DX initiative is to improve the tools (thus, Symfony Installer was born), docs and Symfony itself to make the lives of Symfony developers easier. Pablo Godel showcased various tools and principles on deploying Symfony apps. Alessandro Nadalin presented AngularJS, a JavaScript framework built by Google. The talk was a shift from PHP and Symfony backend development, but it was interesting nevertheless. Carlos Granados talked about improving Symfony performance with Varnish, various Varnish tips and tricks, various use cases on how to effectively cache ESI blocks and logged in user data.

For a finale, Jeremy Mikola held a traditional game of PHP Jeopardy, which was a nice way to relax and have a laugh or two after an intense first day. In the end, SensioLabs organized a get-together for all attendees in a bar in downtown Madrid. It was weird seeing around 200 geeks in a fancy bar atmosphere :)

The second day started lightly: the topic was using Bower and Grunt instead of Assetic to manage front-end dependencies. While the idea itself is worthy of discussion, I'm not sure if it makes much sense in practice. Bojan Živanović presented Commerce Guys' take on implementing or fixing various e-commerce problems. Julien Pauli, a SensioLabs employee and PHP release manager, talked about mysqlnd which is a relatively new MySQL driver that tends to replace good old libmysqlclient. Finally, David Zuelke talked about twelve-factor app concept of developing SAAS applications, and Jeremy Mikola talked about how to improve your code with object calisthenics: a set of 10 or so rules and guidelines for writing object-oriented code. Interesting fact: the rules were actually ported and adopted to PHP from Java.

Both days of the conference featured various lightning talks where people got the chance to present their own projects or talk about anything they wished, all in 7 minutes. Ryan Weaver talked about somewhat controversial topic in Symfony community in the past couple of months: applying Symfony best practices to your app by getting rid of the bundles or merging all of your code into a single bundle, while others talked about community engagement, HTTP caching in Symfony with FOSHttpCacheBundle (to which eZ Publish core developers contributed back).

Apart from the fact that the conference was organized in a hotel near the airport instead of Madrid city center, which was not ideal (and truth be told a little weird choice by SensioLabs), the conference was a great way of getting to know some new players in Symfony community, as well as learning about some cool projects based on Symfony.

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Aside from us, there were also a couple of other fellow eZ Publish developers attending the conference, so we took the opportunity to meet with them. We had a chat with Carlos Revillo and Xavier Serna over some beer.

Next year, SymfonyCon will be held in Paris, France and that event should be a special one: Symfony will be celebrating its 10th birthday. See you all there!

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