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Absolute Design
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The elephant in the room: What we learnt at PHP Conference 2015

Posted by: Absolute Design

On the 19th-20th February our Director of Web Development, Liam Wiltshire, joined other like-minded coders for PHP UK Conference 2015 at The Brewery in London. 

Liam was there to speak about how to improve mySQL performance in PHP applications and find out the latest trends from the developer community.

The presentation, entitled PHP’s Biggest Bottleneck - MySQL (which you can find here), focused on simple ways of optimising mySQL without the need for expensive additional hardware or complicated configuration. Drawing on years of experience Liam highlighted some quick wins that any PHP developer could do for fast, measureable gains. His tips were well received by the 200-strong audience, attracting comments like: "‘A very good talk with some useful information. One tip Liam gave me will likely save the company I’'m currently working for thousands of pounds’ and ‘Lots of useful tips and insights on the best ways to approach optimising your databases’."

Liam also took the time to attend other talks to discuss PHP and development with some of the very best in the industry, trading ideas and spending time looking at upcoming web development trends.

One particularly interesting talk focused on the subject of Accessibility. Although accessibility is often thought about in the context of websites for the visually impaired, it’s much more wide-reaching than this. Accessibility should be considered to be about how every person can use your site. So that includes making it accessible for mobile users, or for people who learn in different ways (eg visual learners and verbal learners). It was interesting to hear someone challenge the ‘norm’ which treats accessibility as an afterthought, and instead place it at the core of a site build.

A very productive couple of days has seen Liam come back inspired and with many new ideas. In particular he investigated different development processes, application architecture and application design processes, including Hexagonal Architecture, Domain Driven Development and Test Driven Development. He’'s now looking at how these practices can be included into Absolute’s existing processes and it has already triggered some changes that we’re confident our clients will begin to see the benefit of very soon!

  1. Principles of hexagonal architecture, and how they could be combined into an existing workflow
  2. How to re-look at accessibility and ARIA- features and how to approach building that in from the start of a new site.
  3. PostgreSQL has some awesome NoSQL features that make a great bridge between relational data and non-relational data.
  4. Scary fact - despite support stopping in 2011 (PHP 5.2) and 2014 (PHP 5.3), nearly 70% of the web are still using these unsupported versions (48% PHP 5.3, 20% PHP 5.2)
  5. HHVM (a project first started at Facebook) is making waves in the PHP community, with organisations such as Etsy and Wikimedia turning to it to massively increase website performance (in Etsy’s case, a 5x improvement!)