Scotland PHP Conference 2017

16th November 2017

This year’s Scotland PHP Conference came with high expectations given the huge success of the first iteration at Dynamic Earth last year. Here’s why it ended up being an excellent and very memorable conference weekend.

On arrival I was greeted at the EICC by the organisers Iain Iveson, Danny Wilson and the other volunteers and given a goodie bag courtesy of the conference sponsors. Full credit to the PHP Conference organisers for hosting the conference at the EICC – great venue and first class facilities for the welcome registration and a chance to network with all the attendees!

The introductory keynote speaker Josh Holmes from Microsoft, who had literally just stepped off his flight, brought an inspiring talk about AI (Artificial Intelligence – The Rise of the Machines) and its evolution over time. His presentation was particularly interesting because Josh really knows his stuff and explained the various underlying systems and theories in language anyone could understand. He spoke about the relationship between AI and Machine Learning and how it used to live solely in the realm of Data Scientists but now permeates almost every aspect of software in general including things like Credit Scoring and Spell Checking. I left the opening keynote with a better understanding of AI design patterns and most importantly a hunger for more!

Josh Holmes from Microsoft talking AI Artificial Intelligence

Josh Holmes from Microsoft talking AI – Artificial Intelligence


The conference adopted a 2 track system whereby talks happened in tandem and delegates were invited to choose which talk they would prefer to attend. The first two talks were Seb Heuer – The Myth of Untestable Code and Christian Lück -Pushing the Limits of PHP with ReactPHP. I had seen Christian talking previously so I knew his presentation wasn’t to be missed. I wasn’t disappointed and as expected, Christian delivered an outstanding talk. His passion for ReactPHP is evident in his presentation style which is confident and engaging. He had the audience laughing at various points while still managing to impart very technical concepts without losing anyone’s attention. As someone who hasn’t used the reactPHP framework I was impressed by its ever expanding ecosystem and performance results when compared to similar alternatives. Specifically, Christian showcased the ReactPHP implementation of an HTTP Server which is written in pure PHP which was impressive as it was capable of handling over 5000 requests per second on a single core laptop. Overall another inspiring and thought provoking presentation raising the bar set by both the morning keynote and last year’s talks.

During the coffee break, I got a chance to talk to Terry Ryan – Developer Advocate for the Google Cloud Platform who had come over from The States to present his talk on the Google Cloud Platform with a focus on Kubernetes, a Docker based container ecosystem comparable to the likes of Amazon Web Services’ and Microsoft Azure’s Container Services.

The next talks were more developer focused – probably the most technical of the day – starting with David McKay – What even is “Cloud Native”? and Craig McCreath – Refactoring Large Legacy Applications with Laravel then onto Dave Stokes – MySQL 8 — A New Beginning and Matt Brunt – Content Security Policies: Let’s Break Stuff. Out of those I particularly enjoyed listening to Dave Stokes introduce some new features which will hopefully release along with MySQL 8 some time next year. Specifically the marriage of CRUD style noSQL with the mySQL relational model which has the potential to be disruptive both to traditional SQL and more modern noSQL service providers.

Dave Stokes - MySQL 8 -- A New Beginning

Dave Stokes – MySQL 8 – A New Beginning

During lunch – a great buffet – I was speaking with Rafail, a developer from Greece who works for I explained to him I had only ever been to Crete to which he responded that he was from Crete so we laughed and spoke about what it was like to program in such a hot place. I was amazed to find out he had come to Scotland specifically for the conference and for me that was definitely a worthwhile interaction because it taught me how influential the Scotland PHP Conference is given people traveled from all over the world, some even at their own expense, to be in Edinburgh that weekend.

Next up was Rick Kuipers – the science of code reviews and Thomas Shone – Security Theatre followed by Terrence Ryan – Containing Chaos with Kubernetes and Renato Mendes Figueiredo – GraphQL is right in front of us, let’s do it!

Security Theatre by Thomas Shone was a particularly engaging talk and I’d highly recommend watching it. As the title suggests it was a piece of performance art rather than just a presentation. The topic was Information Security but from a perspective of loss and the stages of grieving. Thomas talked about secure communication and the importance of hashing and encrypting (and why rolling a bespoke solution is never a solution) backing up his claims with detailed statistics and research. It was both funny and thought provoking and for me one of the highlights of the conference.

Edinburgh International conference center

Edinburgh International conference center


The last of the track presentations of the day were Adam Culp talking about Clean Application Development & Ciaran McNulty – Behat Best Practices. Adam’s talk was excellent and his kilt went down well with the audience in Scotland! The main takeaway for me was Adam’s thoughts on comments in code. He suggested that if the code is clean it should be understandable just by reading it and therefore shouldn’t need much in the way of comments which for me is a key concept when it comes to writing maintainable applications.

For the closing keynote Meri Williams, who calls herself a “Geek Manager” and is the CTO and team lead at MOO, talked about creating space to be awesome using agile approaches. It was at times controversial, funny and above all very much concerning real and current issues in the workplace and society as a whole. She spoke in the context of her own life experience – growing up in apartheid South Africa – and this made it an excellent closing speech which I think embodied the drive and passion behind Scotland PHP.

Meri Williams from MOO talks agile approaches

Scotland PHP17


With all that now behind us, the conference invited all delegates to stay for an evening of games and conversation with a buffet, a bar and a tasty selection of Scottish Whisky. With lots to talk about it after so many great speakers, it was easy to strike up conversations. All in all, a conference to be remembered and I look forward to next year. A big thanks to all those involved in organising and sponsoring and especially to those who bought the blind bird tickets because without you, this world class conference would not have been possible at the EICC.

About Waracle

Waracle, part of Exception, are one of the UK’s largest mobile app development, IoT and digital consulting companies. Since 2008 Waracle have created some of the most exciting Mobile and IoT apps on the market. We attend regular industry events like Scotland PHP, ScotlandIS and DroidCon.

With offices in Dundee, Glasgow, Edinburgh and London, Waracle have a rapidly growing team of industry leading UX designers, scrum-masters, iOS, Android and Hybrid developers, QA and App Store Optimisation experts. We’ve proven in-depth experience across many industry sectors including; Fintech, Scientific Research, Digital Health, Energy, Transportation and Luxury Goods and have become a trust partner for many of the UK’s largest brands.

Our experience has resulted in a robust engineering process that has agile at it’s core. We have the flexibility to work with small teams, as part of your own team or scale up for large projects. Waracle’s team have commercially succeeded in creating, developing and launching industry leading software products and bring that knowledge and experience into each customer engagement.

Waracle is regularly cited as an industry leading mobile app and IoT development company from independent research companies including Clutch, AppIndex and Carnival. Waracle are also an IBM Watson IoT Partner.

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