The office environment was replaced with sunshine when our small team flew to Lisbon to attend the SymfonyCon conference arranged between 6 and 8 December. In addition to Jaska and myself, the team comprised two SymfonyCon veterans, Tare and Antti.
Organized for the 6th time, SymfonyCon is an event offered by SensioLabs, a company developing the Symfony PHP application framework. The event brings together developers who use this application framework in their projects, and members of the Open Source community, to network and listen to expert presentations.
The program also includes an Unconference track where visitors can sign up for their presentations and share interesting topics with others. The last day of the event was reserved for Hackday.
A feast for topics
During the two days, there were more than 25 presentations, which meant that it was quite difficult to select between them. We decided to follow presentations according to our personal interests and preferences.
For example, I attended a presentation titled “Using Symfony Forms with Rich Domain Models”. Forms and data validation with its background processes constitute a problem that I have encountered frequently. An unequivocally correct solution model that could be utilized in most situations has not been found yet.
The presentation compared the advantages and disadvantages of different approaches, and I myself have also faced many of the problems mentioned. The speaker also presented the Rich Model Forms Bundle that has been used when trying to solve the problem. For the time being, Bundle is still under development; however, it will be interesting to follow up its future potential.
Another presentation worth mentioning was titled “My first year with event sourcing (in Symfony)”. As I have not yet utilized event sourcing myself, it was interesting to hear experiences of the challenges and benefits of this model.
Immediate use of things learnt
For Tare, a presentation standing out from the crowd was delivered by Symfony’s main developer, Fabien Potencier, in his keynote address “Symfony Local Web Server reloaded”. Symfony CLI is a tool that can remarkably help developers create applications in their own environments. It is a great example of how a single tool can be used to test a bug in a production environment, to fix it and then quickly take the changes to production. Tare has already successfully introduced Symfony CLI in a new project.
Tare has also immediately taken into use the things learnt through the “Microservices gone wrong” presentation. Now, the developers participating in the same project can set up a development environment extremely quickly, virtually with a few commands.
Besides the official speeches, Antti also listened to talks given at the Unconference. Based on the previous SymfonyCon, he was aware that the Unconference would give good tips in terms of techniques and libraries. This year, one of the things Antti adopted was Fogger, a container-based data anonymizer that helps, for example, in matters related to the GDPR.
It was also interesting to hear about experiences of other companies on development and publishing flows using GitHub. Antti did not agree with feature toggle and code copy techniques that are widely used by some companies; the branching model and RCs applied by us aim to manage features one branch at a time without merging and toggling everything.
The community is alive and well
In addition to brilliant presentations, another unforgettable experience during the trip – one with which the whole group can agree – was to meet people behind the application framework. Screen names from IRC and Slack became connected to their faces.
It was great to see with one’s own eyes that the Open Source community does well, developers feel passionate about their work and tools are being actively developed further. The event had a good atmosphere and, for a junior developer, it was impressive to participate in community activities.
If you became interested in the presentations, you can watch the slides here.
Check also Antti’s feelings and views of the previous SymfonyCon!