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by Kris Vanderwater
I had the privilege of attending Lonestar PHP 2014 in Addison, Texas a couple weekends ago. It was an amazing event full of amazing people and valuable sessions. For those of you who know me, I typically spend a lot of time in the hallways just talking with and meeting new people, however I did attempt to attend some sessions and the calibre of sessions being presented was ridiculously high. The PHP community that attends these events is really obviously close knit. It was a bit like going to a large regional Drupal event. People obviously knew each other, and had old conversations to pick up where they left off and enjoyed hanging out together.
For my part, there was a lot to absorb. The Drupal community has traditionally been pretty insular, and even if we weren’t, PHP projects that lag far behind the rest of the PHP world aren’t appealing to developers working on the bleeding edge. For all our envelope pushing in the last decade, we hadn’t adopted many PHP 5 language features and methodologies. We recognized that this was an area that we needed to address, and Drupal 8 is changing all of that.
It was jarring to walk into one of the bigger PHP events and finding non-Drupalers talking about Drupal, and having an opinion about Drupal. Historically PHPers have had a generally negative opinion of Drupal for many years, but the move to adopt so many current PHP standards and to modernize Drupal’s code has given many of the developers I talked to pause, and a measure of respect for our community. The scale of our effort has been huge, and that has not gone unnoticed.
The highlight of the weekend for me was seeing many Drupal friends and watching our very own Larry Garfield (Crell) give the closing keynote presentation. His presentation was on the pain and profit of moving Drupal from a PHP 4 framework to a modern architecture and the lessons we, as a community, learned along the way. It was a great talk, and I hope he has the opportunity to give it again in the presence of more Drupalers. I witnessed many people come up to Larry afterwards and tell him how great the keynote was.
Beyond the fact that the event was amazing, I want to point out that we have a place in the PHP community. Our collective hard work and effort on Drupal 8 has afforded us that place, and there were only around a dozen Drupalers there this year. Time will tell whether our new found place in the PHP community will translate into any sort of adoption, but the goal is to build a framework any PHP developer would be proud to use.
More importantly, we should be working hard to make sure the PHP community has a place within our community, especially at Drupal events. DrupalCon is one of the largest PHP conferences in the world, and we would do well to engage the greater PHP community and encourage their participation. The PHP community has much they could teach us, and vice versa. Actively encouraging both communities to participate and share advice can only benefit us both. A handful of well known PHPers have already been interfacing with us, including Anthony Ferrara, Lorna Jane Mitchell, Fabien Potencier, Lukas Smith, and this year Keith Casey is actually the track chair of our Coding & Development Track. We’ve begun to engage both communities, but we could do more, and we could start by being at PHP events.
I've included Larry’s Keynote Slides if you're interested.
I’m Kris Vanderwater, Drupal developer and Acquia's Developer Evangelist. My job is to help you – the developer – get the most out of Drupal and Acquia’s products and services. If you ever have questions, comments, or concerns, reach out to me any time. I've included some ways to contact me below.