Last week I had the privilege of attending my first Symfony conference, Symfony Live London. I have not done any Symfony work before (apart from some video training by Knp Labs) but I am very keen to get into it. Commercially, I have been doing mostly Drupal for the last five years, and it is time to expand my horizons. Deciding on which framework to get into next was made easy with the decision to use Symfony components in Drupal 8. Learning Symfony will enhance my ability to offer top Drupal consulting as well as stand alone Symfony. Symfony components are also going to be used may other leading PHP projects, so it is quickly becoming a must have skill.
##Pre-conference Workshop I attended the pre-conference workshop on Thursday, presented by Hugo Hamon. We were first presented with a walk through of the full stack Symfony2 framework architecture. Then we worked on writing a Symfony2 bundle. A bundle is a bit like a Drupal module. We learned about Symfony2 routing, app configuration, forms, validation, controllers, views and Twig. The pace was perfect - fast enough to challenge us, but slow enough to ensure everyone kept up. Hugo presented well, was very clear and easy to understand. In the end, I felt that I knew enough to go away and write by own bundle or Symfony2 app (with help from the docs), so it achieved its goal.
##Conference The next day was the actual conference. The first keynote was by Drupal founder, Dries Buytaert on the topic of building open source communities. The talk included some background to the Drupal project and where it is at today, including its decision to use Symfony2 components in Drupal 8. I was not quite sure how the Symfony community would react to this talk, but Dries was funny and engaging and they seemed to really warm to him. Overall, he did a great job at encouraging the Symfony and Drupal communities to work together.
The rest of the conference (apart from the final keynote) was in two tracks. I went to:
Effective Code Reviews by Sebastian Marek. An entertaining talk on why and how to code reviews and which tools to use to help. One of the most important points to be noted is that a code review is not for the person requesting the review, it is for the reviewer and the rest of the team to learn.
Simple Searching with Elastic Search by Richard Miller and Jeremy Mikola. This talk was aimed at people who have not used Elastic Search before. It was a good introduction to what seemed to be a very powerful but yet easy to use tool. Elastic Search looks like a good alternative to Solr.
Symfony2’s decent into phpDocumentor2 by Mike van Riel . phpDocumentor is one of the projects that is embracing Symfony2 components. In this talk Mike talked about the process he went through to include Symfony. In some cases, he has replaced Zend components with Symfony ones.
Drupal 8 by Alex Pott and Nathaniel Catchpole. This was another talk where I was interested to see the audiences reaction. It served as an introduction to Drupal and its future. Mobile plays a big role in this. Alex and Nathan were pretty honest in explaining Drupal short comings and how things will get better by including Symfony2 components. They talked about the actual components that will be included (http-foundation, class-loader, dependency-injection, routing, http-kernel and yaml) and some code that is being given back to the Symfony project. The audience was invited to help with Drupal.
Full Stack BDD for Symfony2 by Marcello Duarte, and Konstantin Kudryashov. This was one highly entertaining talk! Marcello and Konstantin are brilliant presenters who kept the audience engaged throughout. We were presented with a BDD session with Behat (Konstantin developed Behat). Behat looks like a great tool which I will need to try.
The final keynote was by Symfony founder, Fabian Potencier. I loved his keynote at DrupalCon Munich, so it was good to see another one of his. One of the interesting things to come out of is is desire to move Symfony to a fixed release cycle, with a new release every 6 months.
The venue, The Brewery, was beautiful and the atmosphere was buzzing. I met some really cool, friendly and open people over the course of the two days. I am looking forward to the next Symfony event!