My week at the Zend PHP Conference 2005

My week at PHP-Con.


After a quick stop in Dallas I spent the week in San Francisco at the Zend PHP Conference when I presented on PHP development in the Windows World.


I came to work at Microsoft after seeing a preview of ASP.NET in 2000 and have had a passion for the .NET platform and development tools ever since. Still, I have an affection for the PHP community.


Perhaps it’s because coding in PHP is reminiscent of the fun and success that I had with Classic ASP (Though I think PHP has clearly outgrown what ASP 3.0 was). Classic ASP technology and the DOTCOM era were very good to me and the PHP community has that sort of a feel.


PHP has a “fast and wild” style and is very easy to pick up and so has enjoyed success for reasons similar to those that made Classic ASP so popular.


I’ve done PHP work on Windows for quite a long time (at least for a technology). I started when PHP 3 was released in 1997. Since being at Microsoft I have focused on two areas, Developer Security and Interoperability, mostly with PHP and Java. In doing that work I’ve had occasion to develop relationships with several folks at Zend and particularly Andi Gutmans, co-founder of Zend and co-father of PHP as it is known today.


Last year in casual conversation Andi suggested that I consider submitting a paper to the PHP Conference Committee and I did for this years event.


I considered a bold move when the conference committee accepted my proposal to present “PHP Rocking in the Windows World” at the 2005 event. Microsoft does not have a formal partnership with Zend and PHP inaccurately gets “lumped” into the LAMP (Linux/Apache/MySQL/PHP) technology stack as anti-Microsoft.


It’s a weird formula. PHP is a direct competitor with ASP.NET, Microsoft’s Web Platform, which is available for free on the Windows Platform. So from a commercial perspective its two FREE products competing for market share. I suppose that Zend Studio for PHP competes with Visual Studio .NET and so the platform choice between ASP.NET and PHP does have a more “real” fiscal issue at stake, but I’m not sure about the voracity of that financial argument.


In any event, I was thrilled that they wanted me to come and speak. I was likewise thrilled that the folks at Zend were very, very easy for me to work with in preparation for the conference. With the potential political volatility involved with my speaking at the PHP conference (no one from Microsoft has ever done so), I expected a lot of input about the details of my subject.


There was none. The guys at Zend took the “Open means open” perspective and made no attempt whatsoever to influence my presentation.


It wasn’t until after I had been announced as a speaker that I discovered that Brian Goldfard, Shawn Nandi, and Keri Dunn form the ASP.NET teams had decided to have a booth at the event.


For me the conference began with an unhappy adventure. When flying from Dallas to San Francisco, the TSA agent fumbled my laptop and dropped it during the security inspection. I didn’t find out until the next morning (the day of my presentation) that my hard drive, along with the rest of my laptop, was damaged beyond recovery.


After Brian and I spent the whole morning trying to recover my demo files I retreated to my hotel room to write NEW demos from scratch.


Luckily my session was the last breakout of the day.


The session was a blast. There are LOTS of PHP Developers that are working and deploying on Windows and there was a lot of interest in how to leverage the rich Windows infrastructure and server products from PHP applications.


The audience was not hostile at all and had lots of great technical questions.


In fact, at the beginning of the session I asked how many people were there just to throw stuff at the presenter. A couple of guys raised their hands, and later asked questions and engaged in some great dialog. The only person who actually threw anything at me was Brian Goldfarb from Microsoft. J


In the Linux community I often find that people are hostile when I go to one of their events simply because I work for Microsoft.


The people at the PHP conference were a very friendly and enthusiastic group that seemed far more interested in technical pragmatics than platform theology.


Even members of the PHP Core team, who expected a non-technical marking pitch, blogged kindly about my session.,-Day-2.html

I’m heading up to Redmond, WA for a few days and then home where I will spend a week doing PHP (and Security) Webcasts


You can register for the upcoming PHP focused webcasts at…..


MSDN Webcast: Comparing PHP with ASP.NET


MSDN Webcast: Building and Running PHP Applications on Windows

MSDN Webcast: Extending PHP Applications Using Microsoft Technologies