ZendCon Day 1 Roundup and Keynote Thoughts

The first day of the Zend/PHP Conference and Expo (the day of tutorials) was great. I sat in on Robert Richards’s Advanced XML and Web Services and Marcus’s and Sara’s Extending PHP tutorials. I multi-tasked as best I could, catching up on some work while finishing my slides and listening to the presentations. Robert went into a great deal of information on DOM, which was all very excellent material – you can definitely tell where his passion lies and that he knows his stuff – but discussion on Web Services was not very prominent. My presentation today, though, while entitled “XML & Web Services with PHP” will be nearly the opposite and discuss Web Services in general, while glossing over XML. So, I think the two properly balance each other. Marcus and Sara covered PHP extensions brilliantly, but, while WiFi here has been excellent, trying to connect to Sara’s ad hoc network for the presentation hosed my wireless connection, and I couldn’t connect for the remainder of the day from the presentation rooms.

For another roundup of the conference tutorial day, I’d suggest reading Aaron Wormus’s take on the day. Unfortunately, Aaron’s server is currently down, so he’s unable to blog on his site (or receive e-mail for that matter), so his roundup post is on PHPDeveloper.org. Be sure to check it out.

This morning, the opening keynote of the conference was led by Mark de Visser, Andi Gutmans, and Zeev Suraski. Mark is Zend’s Chief Marketing Officer, and I’ve had the pleasure of talking with him at OSCON and again last night at the speakers/ZCE dinner. He has a great feel for the PHP and open source community, and he’s sensitive to the appearance and presence of a corporation within this community. I think he brings a wealth of experience to Zend, given his background at RedHat, and he’s doing a great job building Zend’s relationship with the community and presenting them in a manner that is acceptable to the community as a whole.

The keynote covered a range of topics, including the current state of the PHP Collaboration Project, a demo of the new Google Data client library in the Zend Framework, the Eclipse PHP project, Zend Platform and Zend Studio, and the future direction of PHP. Mentioned, also, was the imminent release of PHP 5.2, which might be available this coming Thursday. Overall, the keynote was good, informative, and well-presented, though I felt the introductory part of the keynote, in which some applications, such as Joomla and ZenCart, were showcased, did not show off the strengths of the current state of PHP. These applications are still using PHP 4, for the most part, and I think it would have been good to showcase applications that take advantage of the powerful features of PHP 5 to create a “Web 2.0” application.

In all, it’s been a great conference thus far, and it’s just getting started. I’m heading now to Eli White’s High Volume PHP & MySQL Scaling Techniques, and then, after lunch, I’ll be giving my XML & Web Services with PHP presentation.