Liip supports Delightful User Experiences

©UXLS

UX Lausanne 2014 conference inspired a local and an international audience by offering a variety of perspectives about our nature. 

Our souls, our lives, our day-by-day is more and more widely influenced by the contribute of new ambitions, cross knowledge and the errors we keep solving from past. Contemporary life is easier – he hope for better, but it might not be. Throughout history, we have been living faster due to a forward thinking which allows us to do more in less time. But that time seems also faster, or we are taking more time then what we want to see… Why are things rushing up? Is that good? Is that bad? What if we are designing futuristic visions of an organism that is slowly swallowing us till nature is destroyed? Will we be able to coordinate our expanding skills towards the benefit of a better universe? We all guess so. Human beings are just a small part of it, and till now, we have been effective not only spoiling things but fortunately, also virtuous improving an increasing number of lives too. We can thank that to great minds, experiments and new findings. The will to create useful things that help others, that are accessible, sustainable, delightful, etc… is rescuing us from the increasing data pollution where information becomes obsolete. Production, sharing and wasting speed is showing its cons and among many other professions, designers exist to help solving it. “Will there be a counter-technique to turn data into information, information into knowledge, knowledge into wisdom?”, raised Oliver Reichenstein closing the UXLS’14 conferences. 

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Discussions and Pizza at PHPDay Italy

PHPDay Logo Last week, I was invited to do a Symfony Content Management Framework tutorial at the PHPDay in Verona. I saw great talks, most notably a demo of Docker. I had a good crowd of people for the two hour walkthrough of building a website with the CMF. In this post, i share some experiences from the conference.

Having arrived on wednesday, I went to see the you have ruined javascript rant by Rob Ashton. It was definitely an entertaining and passionate talk. I feel not qualified to decide how much Rob is exaggerating, but he definitely brought forth valid critics and reminded the general rule of not always using a large framework even for small tasks. In the evening I had dinner in downtown Verona.

Thursday started of with an introduction to AngularJS in combination with Symfony2. I liked the examples how even when doing a frontend application, Antonio still manages to use the power of Symfony Forms and other components without doing everything twice. When using Symfony2 and AngularJS you definitely want to look at these slides. In the afternoon I did my Symfony CMF tutorial. I walked the audience through building an application with the CMF. I showed a lot of code and explained both the “how?” and the “why?”. I had decided not to do hands on, as two hours is too short for that. I did hands-on CMF at a workshop at PHP Benelux earlier this year, and the 3 hour slot was just enough. The walkthrough was well received and i had interesting discussions with some participants after the workshop.

The day was wrapped up by an unconference talk about the joys and frustrations of working on composer by Composer himself (yeah Jordi loves it when you call him that :-P ). Jordi showed some really funny and some sad examples of reactions he got. After that, it was off to the speakers dinner, which was awesome italien cuisine (as in, not Pizza but delicious food with good wine).

Saturday started with meeting Simone Fumagalli who is contributing Nginx support to the FOSHttpCache library. We met for the first time in real live, and wrapped up his pull request. Meeting people is just as important to me about conferences as the actual talks. I made it in time to see a mind-blowing presentation on Docker by Alexander Mols. I definitely need to look into this tool. On a modern Linux (which is of course what I work on), its just so insanely faster and easier than running Vagrant to normalize the development setup. And even with other operating systems, it will work at least as good as vagrant. Thanks to dokku it is even possible to use Docker in a Heroku-style deployment process by simply pushing to a git remote. Alexander cautions that both projects do not yet claim to be production ready, however. In the afternoon, I ended up sitting in the sun and talking to a bunch of interesting people most of the afternoon. Discussions ranged from PHPBridge, a project meant to introduce total non-programmers to PHP with a strong social twist, over community building to more personal discussions with people from all over Europa.

It was my second time in Verona and this edition of PHPDay was just as great as I remembered the first time. I saw good presentations and got new inputs, and had many interesting discussions with interesting people. It was great to meet friends from the PHP community and make new friends. I am thankful that Liip supported me going to the conference, and also sponsored the conference.

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For the very first time: Hello UK!

I have been on the conference tour for quite some time now and on top of that I travel about every 2nd weekend to some frisbee tournament around the globe. Yet I have never visited the UK. So far the most I have seen of the UK was transiting via direct bus from one London airport to another. So I was quite thrilled when my talk about the Symfony2 CMF was accepted for PHPNE in Newcastle. I was also quite keen to learn more about the PHP community over there. At any rate I flew in on Monday evening and made my way to the hotel in a light drizzle which perfectly matched my image of UK weather. But even in the dark one could make out the historical feel to the architecture in the city center. I cut the sightseeing short and crashed into bed. Next day I made my way to the conference venue which was set at a movie theatre. There were countless busy bee’s from the organization team and in general this conference was organized top notch. Quite an impressive achievement given that this was the very first PHPNE. The theatre also provided top notch projectors and of course comfy seats.

Rowan kicks off the show

Rowan did an awesome intro keynote talking about how to make better developers, touching both and practical aspects in terms of tech setup and continuing on to useful tips about self education and human interaction.

API Design by Alex

Next talk I listened to was about API design by Alex. It was a combination of general tips and lesson learned from introducing an open API at a university. I pondered raising my hand when the presenter flat out recommended to always go with JSON over XML for REST APIs. Personally JSON is my preferred format when the client is usually a browser as it integrates so naturally there. For server to server interaction I much prefer XML, since its simply a much better format when one needs to evolve data format as one can get away with many changes without requiring a new API version.

Bastian on logging and metrics

After this talk I attended was delivered by Bastian about logging and metrics. This is a topic I find quite important but unfortunately I have found its hard to convince clients to invest into this as they tend to focus more and features end users can see. However to ensure a stable environment which is sort of the basis for ensuring that customers can enjoy your site, logging is key. Furthermore only with metrics it is possible to figure out what features customers actually use, where they might get stuck and what could be easily dropped. It was nice to see that the tools Bastian chose to introduce are exactly the tools I had on my radar already. He specifically mentioned graylog, logstash, statsd and graphite.

Lunch time chat on knowledge exchange

Over lunch I ended up chatting with Rowan about internal knowledge exchange. Rowan works for Invica. Just like Liip they have multiple offices and deliver projects using various frameworks and applications. Interestingly they seem to have several teams that span across offices. At Liip we of course also sometimes collaborate between teams in multiple offices, however project teams for the most part always come together in a single office.

Fabrice showing the path to Symfony2

After lunch the sessions commenced again. I had seen Fabrice’s talk about migrating legacy applications to Symfony2 before. However it has evolved quite a bit since then. I will definitely apply many of his tips next time I have the task to migrate a legacy application and look forward to Theodo release some of their solutions as open source.

Intro to the CMF

Right after Fabrice’s talk I delivered my CMF presentation to a noticeably smaller crowd. I hear the talk that was running in parallel about dealing with failures was very good. At any rate I must admit I have seen this pattern before at other conferences. I tend to have a fair number of people asking questions in my talk and afterwards even more. So I figure that the market for people willing to explore a new content management approach is simply a bit smaller than other topics, yet for those who do have issues with the current solutions its quite an important topic. At the start of my talk I asked what frameworks people are using and it validated a feeling I had gotten in the previous talks: There was no clear goto framework for conference attendees. The preferred frameworks were all over the map.

Theij’s on the cloud

The closing keynote was held by Theijs who did a very energetic delivery to drive home the point that really the cloud is nothing more than .. the internet! Additionally he provided several good hints about what things to consider when using SaaS.

Bar chatting

After the closing ceremony with lots of prizes we then moved on to dinner and finally everybody met back at a local bar where we had free drinks all night. However instead of simply getting drunk there were many lively discussions. I talked quite a lot with people about Symfony2 and the need for RAD development layers on top of the core. I also chatted a bit about e-commerce solutions in the PHP scene, specifically Magento, Oxid, FoxyCart as well as Vespolina and Sylius. At any rate, people were so busy talking that the free drinks money actually only ran out just before the bar was closing anyway.

CMF workshop

For me however the conference wasn’t quite over then as thanks to a late afternoon return flight I had offered to provide a CMF introduction workshop on the next day. Anthony had managed to secure funds to give us a room large enough that I could give 10 people a 4 hour run down of all the details about the CMF with much more depth than my talk at the conference. Some people had already played with the CMF while others had only heard about it in a blog post. I led the attendees decide how to best spend the time. In the end all attendees installed the Symfony2 CMF Standard Edition, I answered several specific questions that some of the people had that already played with the CMF but aside from that I just ended up going through the PHPCR and Routing/Menu slides, showing a bit more about the SonataAdminBundle and various other pieces. After the workshop I grabbed lunch together with Lars and Marc. Lars had been posting various questions about how to implement publishing workflows on the mailing list and is now diving into implementing some missing functionality into the Jackrabbit transport layer of Jackalope, which was just merged.

Wrapping up

Overall I must say it was a great conference and I was especially grateful that I could do the workshop. As we are approaching the first stable release its important to get as many people double checking our concepts as possible. Secretly I am also hoping that the attendees will take what they have learned and spread the word in their cities and organizations. Even with the internet frameworks and applications tend to be strongest in close geographical proximity to the core developers. So having an opportunity to make the Symfony2 CMF known outside of continental Europe will hopefully help grow the user base.

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deSymfony 2012: Back to the Motherland

Last week I went to Spain to speak at the 2012 edition of deSymfony, a Spanish conference on all things Symfony, and more. I was really looking forward to this event since I made many friends there last year. Also the food and weather in Spain are awesome, specially around Barcelona and Castellón –the city where the conference took place. Considering that the conference was in Spanish and the talks I’ll be commenting have slides in Spanish I will continue this blog post in Spanish. ¡Adios Amigos!

La organización de la conferencia fue excelente, no había nada librado al azar. Como asistente a la conferencia hasta llegamos a recibir un PDF que explicaba como ir desde la terminal de Trenes hasta el Hotel de la conferencia e inlcuso como ir desde allí hacia la universidad donde la conferencia se llevó a cabo. El PDF contaba con imágenes aéreas que mostraban claramente como moverse durante los días del evento. La verdad que un fuerte aplauso para los organizadores por trabajar durante un año para lograr un evento sin par. La única crítica que debo hacer es que luego de un año desde la edición anterior los participantes aún no hablaban Español Rio Platense. Con tremenda organización supongo que eso se va a superar para el año que viene ;-).

En cuanto a las ponencias, una palabra: Impresionante. Muy buena calidad de charlas, con ponentes que claramente dominaban el tema. Este año incluso contamos con la presencia de Fabien Potencier, lo que aumentó aún más el nivel del evento.

Luego de la “Keynote” del evento arrancó Javier Eguíluz con su charla titulada “Twig, los mejores trucos y técnicas avanzadas”:

Twig, los mejores trucos y técnicas avanzadas