Monday, January 5, 2009

Looking Back... 2008

After first entering the PHP world in 2006, then getting involved with PEAR via PhpDocumentor in 2007, I'd say 2008 was my big PHP year, though I hope to go farther in 2009.

Big steps
  • I was elected to the 2008-2009 PEAR Group during the summer.
  • I became a technical reviewer for Travis' Git book over the fall. While not technically a "PHP moment", the experience has infected me with a "get published" bug that will most likely only be realized in the PHP arena.
  • I attended the php|appalachia campference in Tennessee in October. Since I didn't stay at The Beast, I missed the serious professional networking that occurred in the evenings. This was my very first face-to-face meeting with anyone in the PHP community, and I came away with my first taste of the community feeling. I highly recommend it.
  • I attended the php|works conference in Atlanta in November. In addition to seeing my new php|appalachia friends again, I met even more folks that I'd only previously known online, particularly in the PEAR world. After becoming vocally involved in both Travis' PHPT tutorial and then Helgi's PEAR2 talk, I realized I felt no significant stage fright talking in such a crowd. I think it was at this point that I first considered that a future talk of my own might be feasible.
Small steps
  • I adopted some orphaned XML packages in PEAR. I've made some level of contributions to them, but at the cost of being distracted from PhpDocumentor. Granted, my initial rationale for involving myself with these packages was because of PhpDocumentor's dependencies on them.
  • I attended Paul Reinheimer's ZCE course from php|architect in September.
  • After my experience at php|works, I entertained the idea of preparing a talk, or even a tutorial, on PhpDocumentor at the upcoming php|tek conference. The CFP deadline was way too early for me to seriously put a plan together, though. Perhaps I'll be able to bring this idea to fruition via the next php|works. I do appreciate the encouragement I received from everyone on #phpc to try this.
  • I started this blog. I'm not a compulsive writer by any means, but I do enjoy talking tech when I have something that someone might be interested in hearing about. I can set my plush penguins and wax elephants on my desk, and pretend they're listening happily (now, if only I could get my hands on a true elePHPant). Unfortunately for me, Mr. Vader never has anything constructive to say, so I tune him out.
  • I didn't make the time to establish the continuous integration box for PEAR that I'd talked about.
  • I didn't find any time to get PhpDocumentor work done over the last half of year. At least I do have my PEAR Group and XML package work to point to as worthy distractions.
  • I haven't yet followed up the ZCE course with self-study or the exam. This is mainly my fault, but in an unexpected way. I had thought the course came with free practice exams, so I waited a good while after the course ended for info about the practice exams to arrive, thinking I'd get deep into it once I had all the pieces (course review, Ben and Davey's book, and practice exams) in hand. Someone then explained to me that I didn't earn those free practice exams, because the course had been a freebie as part my of my php|works registration. I had completely missed that caveat about the free course. It's funny how you don't realize you've fired that bullet into your foot until someone actually points it out to you... makes me think the Bugs Bunny cartoons might be correct about how gravity only acts on you if you realize you're supposed to be falling off that cliff.
Happy moments
  • I keenly enjoyed my one-and-only all-night-hackathon building a full PHPT test suite for the XML_Util package. This was my first foray into PHPT, as well as my learning curve work on understanding XML_Util. I was able to build off this experience by doing more PHPT work with XML_Parser and XML_Serializer. Given that PHPUnit is capable of running PHPTs (thanks to Christian Weiske and Sebastian Bergmann), I can wrap the PHPT suite with a PHPUnit test suite file, and run the suite via either means.
  • I had a very enjoyable contract with SugarCRM over the last half of the year. In truth, this was probably the key factor in limiting my quantity of PEAR work, as it took nearly all of my personal time, but it was a worthwhile trade-off to me personally. It was very refreshing to work purely in the continuous integration area.
Clearly the most enduring accomplishment for me in 2008 will be the new friends I've made in the community, most keenly at the conferences I attended. As much as I gleaned from the talks themselves, the networking of friends seems to me to be the key benefit of attendance. My utmost thanks to the conference organizers for their efforts to bring the community together. My additional thanks to the PHP community itself for accepting me into the fold. For anyone that's considering attending php|tek but not sure of its worth, I can only say "GO GO GO GO GO!!!!!!" Who knows, if enough registrations are received with "The Nazg convinced me to go", they just might come kidnap me to get me there too.

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