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One more look at the first 4developers conference

4developers conference aims to become the biggest conference for developers in Poland. That’s why four independent paths where available to choose from: Java, IT Project Management, .NET & C# and last but not least – Dedicated Languages. As I’m a PHP Development Manager at GOYELLO, and I was mainly interested in IT Project Management and Dedicated Languages. The first name is self-explanatory and the later covered topics related to PHP, Ruby, Python and other (f.e. Scala).

Ivo Jansch (CTO of Ibuildings) opened Dedicated Languages track with “Enterprise Development for Dynamic Scripting Languages”. He emphasized that scripting languages, mainly represented by PHP, are most commonly used on high-load, demanding websites. That proves that such solutions ARE enterprise ready and raises the question: why the enterprise is not interested enough in PHP? The fact of the matter is that PHP (and other scripting languages) are not treated seriously at Polish Universities. While talking to Ivo I got the impression that this is also the case in the Netherlands. What can we do about it?

Next, I attended the lecture deveoted to “The Power of Refactoring” by Stefan Koopmanschap (Profesional Services Consultant at Ibuildings, the PHP Guy and symfony advocate). Apart from describing what refactoring is and how it differs from rewriting, Stefan showed how to refactor and why. To start with it you have to know your codebase, API needs to be structured and unit tests must be present. The last one is probably the most important. Without tests you cannot refactor safely. Correctly written tests give you confidence that modified code will not change its behaviour. Refactoring can also be a continuous process while programming with Test Driven Development approach. In most cases, while writing the code to satisfy a chosen unit test, you have to refactor the written code just few seconds before to satisfy your previous tests.

There is one more important thing I realized after Stefan’s presentation. “Once you have to change your documentation block, then you’re rewriting, not refactoring”. Simple but SO true. The presentation is available on slideshare.

Than I switched to IT Project Management track. Bartosz Chrabski presented “Za i przeciw Release Driven Development” (“Advantages and disadvantages of Release Driven Development”). I went there to learn some fresh approach and the topic sounded interesting. It turned out to be devoted mainly to continuous integration, which is in fact nice but the described solution is not really applicable to my team. However, it made me realise that continous integration process should be developed along with the project (not before or after) until it dies.

To catch up with IT Project Management track I decided to attend “SCRUM – niełatwe wdrażanie metodyki w praktyce” (“SCRUM – not an easy way to put the theory into practice”) by Adam Krosny. It was a nice presentation, which refreshed my knowledge about the subject. The audience also seemed to like it.

Next, I went to Advanced DSLs in Ruby by Neal Ford to find out if I have been missing out on anything by not using Ruby. It’s worth mentioning that Neal is a really good speaker. If you ever have an opportunity to listen to his lecture, don’t miss it! This time he showed how to implement Domain Specific Languages in Ruby. The purpose is to solve a problem with a tool dedicated to it. It is possible by extending or changing core language classes. Ruby seems to be very flexible in this matter.

Later Monika Rosińska in “Trudna sztuka motywowania pracowników IT” (“Hard art of motivating IT employees”) talked about how team building games can motivate people and solve team conflicts. She also underlined that money can never be an effective motivator in the long run. It works only for a short period of time.

Finally, the time came for a keynote speaker- Neal Ford with his lecture“Essence & Ceremony”. This was probably the most valuable and fun speech in the conference. I enjoyed it so much that I will not write a word about it… here. It just deserves its own separate post.

I have to admit that the conference was quite well prepared. And since it was the first conference I believe that the organizers will prepare it even better next time. We should definitely include this conference in our schedule for next year and invite more people to join us.

PHP development manager in GOYELLO, focusing on delivering high quality software with clean and easily maintainable code. Follows best programming practices and use the best Open Source solutions. Big fan of symfony framework.