PHPNW09: In Conclusion

Last weekend was the second annual PHP North West Conference, held at Manchester Conference Centre and attended by 200 people. We kicked off our weekend on Friday night, with a pre-conference social in a pub near to the conference venue. There wasn’t really enough space but it contained geeky things and sold actual beer, which seemed appropriate. Saturday morning saw the delegates arriving bright and early, ready for our Keynote from Kevlin Henney “The Uncertainty Principle”. He had a whole room full of developers laughing along with him in the early morning – what a great session :)

Next up it was my turn to speak – speaking at a conference that you’re also organising and doing the paper selection for has been a bit of a strange experience, I’d never say “never again” but both things detracted from the other slightly. My talk was “Passing the Joel Test in the PHP World”, which is a re-take of the Joel Test, adapted for web development – its a nice opportunity for me to get some of my thoughts across on a range of best practices and the slides are available online. Once I began speaking and my nerves got out of the way, I almost enjoyed myself – I got some great questions from people in the bar in the evening as well, hopefully I’ll be giving that talk again some time. We used to allow our attendees to leave feedback – they were great and the comments are still coming in. I was blown away by the feedback on my own talk however – conference organisers please take note!

The rest of the day was a whirl of organisation, chatting with people in the hallway, and catching a few bits and pieces of talks – I did see more talks this year than last year though which I was very pleased about. At the end of the day we had a session with some content from our premier sponsor Microsoft, a whole bunch of giveaways, and I was able to take the microphone once more to thank the organisers, particularly Jeremy and his team from Solution Perspective Media – after which it was time to party. The food was excellent all day, and Sun had put money behind the bar which took us almost all night to drink, they definitely financed some sizeable hangovers!

This year for the first time we also had an informal day on the Sunday, this was something I was deeply involved with organising and I think it went pretty well. Arriving ten minutes before the start time to find speakers, attendees, and a venue with the cafe already open was a welcome surprise before 9am on a Sunday morning! The five speakers that morning were a mix of experienced speakers, new speakers, core PHP topics and a few allied technologies. Plenty of people dropped in to hear a session or two and explore MOSI through the morning, I think it was a nice addition to the schedule.

All that remains is to extend a huge thanks to our speakers, helpers, sponsors and of course the attendees – if you were there I hope you had a great time!

PHPNW09: Weekend of PHP and Fun

Having just put the finishing touches to the schedule for PHPNW09, I’m realising just how excited I am about this event coming up in less than a fortnight. This is the second year we’ve run the event, and its bigger and better than last year – and I know what a great crowd to expect! We kick off in Manchester on Friday 9th October for a pre-conference social, with the main event on Saturday and follow this, naturally, with another party! Since so many people are there for the weekend we’ve also taken some conference space for Sunday morning and begged a few more speakers to hang around and share their knowledge with those people who are staying for the weekend. (The Sunday speakers get no speaker package and they were all very gracious about having their arms twisted … we can’t thank them enough!)

The full schedule is now published with both Saturday and Sunday sessions now published along with timings for each. Although this is a local conference with a budget ticket price and organised by volunteers, the lineup would not look out of place at any other event on the PHP calendar – and we’d like to thank all the speakers that submitted talks to us, regardless of whether we managed to find time in the schedule for them. The submitters, the speakers, the helpers and the attendees are what makes this conference what it is – and I can’t wait! See you in Manchester :)

Speaking at PHPNW09

I have experience of PHP conferences from all possible angles – as an attendee, as a speaker and as an organiser. At PHP North West this year I will be taking this to new heights and combining all three roles into a single one-day conference. I have a speaking slot at the event entitled “Passing the Joel Test in the PHP World”, which I’m very excited about. Its a talk that I think brings together the best ideas from a general software engineering world and puts them into the context of PHP development. If you’re wondering what the Joel Test is, then you can read about it on wikipedia.

Having spoken at a few different events now, some local and some quite high-profile PHP conferences (OK, so php|tek – the event of the year!), I’m really delighted to be bringing my ideas to the local conference that I help to organise and attached to a user group full of bright and interesting people. The experience of launching a call for papers, submitting my own abstracts, and then trying to figure out where it fits in when evaluating the CfP was a bit split-personality but with Jeremy’s input we decided this was a good fit – and I’m looking forward to delivering it!

The event itself is in Manchester, UK on Saturday 10th October and there is only one week remaining on the early bird ticket price!! So all those people who think its ages away and you’ll sort out arrangements nearer the time – you have been warned. The schedule is world-class (quite literally, these speakers do speak right around the world), and the price is pocket money (50 GBP + VAT until 11th September). As well as the technical content you get a fun weekend in Manchester, plenty of social activity, there’s more geekery happening the following day and all attendees get a 12-month subscription to php|architect magazine to keep them learning all year long. Now you’re persuaded – you can buy you tickets here and let me know to expect you!

PHPNW is the highlight of my year – I hope to see you there :)

PHPNW: Schedule and Crowd-Sourcing

Plans for the second annual PHP North West conference (Manchester, 10th October) are coming along rather nicely, so I thought I’d share an update and some headline news. First of all – tickets cost 50 GBP + VAT. This is about 57 euros or 81 dollars. I don’t know where else you can buy conference attendance for that kind of money, we even have concessionary prices for students, OAPs, anyone else who can persuade us they deserve it. So – buy your tickets and come join in the fun!

Since I last posted here we also published the schedule. We were overwhelmed by the quality of the call for papers and there are some cracking sessions, excellent speakers, and lots of overlap between the two! Already grumbling can be heard about good sessions which clash with one another … which is rather a wonderful problem to have :)

Finally, this year PHPNW is expanding and has added an informal schedule on the Sunday morning since we know lots of people will be staying over. This will run from 9 til 1 and we’ve put out a call to ask what people would like to see on the schedule. So far a few regulars have already made themselves heard and we’re looking forward to seeing the outcome of crowd-sourcing a schedule in this way! The Sunday event is at Museum of Science and Industry, which a fun place to go for geeks and, like the morning event, is free entry!

Hoping to see lots of you there at the conference this year – last year’s event was brilliant with an excellent atmosphere, and this year looks to be better again. I can’t wait :)

PHPNW: Site, Tickets and CfP

The date for PHPNW was announced a few weeks ago as Saturday 10th October 2009, and now we’ve got all the official bits and bobs to go with it! In outline:

The website:

Tickets: Early bird pricing until September 11th, student tickets available – look on the website for instructions on getting student tickets.

Call for Papers: Speakers wanted! If you have something to share and you think you can do that coherently – then submit to us please, we’re always looking for new people, new talks, as well as the talks and speakers you’d expect to see at the bigger PHP conferences. If you’re not sure if something fits, feel free to contact us.

This is officially a one-day Saturday event, with a full day with two tracks of talks and an attendance of 200+ people. In reality its a whole weekend of geeking out in Manchester – with a pre-conference social on Friday night, the main event on Saturday, a conference social running on Saturday night and an informal set of sessions on Sunday morning for anyone with the energy to keep on going before everyone makes tracks to their homes.

If you’re going, thinking of going, went last year, or wishing you could be there – add a comment! I’m looking forward to meeting many of you at the event :)

PHPNW09 – PHP Conference in Manchester

Last night at the PHPNW user group we announced this year’s conference – PHPNW09. We don’t have a lot of detail but here is a run-down of all the information I have:

  • Date: Saturday 10th October 2009
  • Location: Manchester Conference Centre. It’s a new venue but just as central and actually easier to get to.
  • Website: which currently points at last year’s conference but feel free to click around to get a feel and we’ll update that soon.
  • Focus: PHP in the team – we’re having a real focus on PHP teams, tools and practices for them.
  • Price: We’re aiming for the Early Bird tickets at 50 GBP + VAT, similar to last year (OK so last year was inc VAT but hey, it’s still excellent value). This price will run until 10th September, a month before the conference, at which point they’ll become more expensive.
  • Speakers: Yes please! Like last year, we’ll be running a call for papers and we’ll be looking for some well-known speakers and some we haven’t heard of yet. Like last year the speaker’s package will include the speaker’s dinner, a conference pass and hotel accommodation, but won’t include travel expenses – if you are interested then look out for a CfP in August
  • Schedule: See previous point ;)

Did I miss anything? If so, drop me a comment.

The timescales (all subject to change for no apparent reason and without warning) are something along the lines of getting the site live in June, the tickets on sale in July, the CfP out in August, closing towards the end of that month, publishing the schedule at the start of September to give people chance to get tickets still on the early bird rates which expire on 10th September – then another month for people who like their tickets more expensive and finally the event itself on 10th October.

A few other things I would like to mention:

  1. We want sponsors, including some quite small ones! If that’s you, please contact us or just leave a comment with your details
  2. We will need some volunteers on the day, all of whom get free entry – again, let us know if you are up for that
  3. We’re considering running a “day 0”, probably a hands-on day on the Friday, currently we don’t have either venues or clear plans for this so if you have any thoughts or ideas, add a comment!