Touring North America

  • Lukas Kahwe Smith

After pretty much exactly a month I have concluded my north american “tour” featuring speaking at Confoo in Montreal, a PHP UG meeting on Boca Raton and last, but definitely not least DrupalCon Denver. In between relaxing at my parents place in Florida. Lets me review the experience in chronological order.

I had previously attended Confoo in 2008 where it was still very much focused on PHP developers. These days Confoo aims to cover all web technologies all the while also including non-developers in some tracks. My first talk was on PHPCR, while everyone back home was celebrating Liip Day. This usually attracts a smaller crowd that have both experienced the pains of todays CMS and are ready to look beyond. I always ask the audience at the end of they think that PHPCR looks relevant to them and pretty much everyone raised their hand. The other talk I gave was a presentation on Symfony2. I came with zero slides, but only my editor, the shell and a browser to show people the guts of Symfony2 in its raw beauty. I did this before at PHP Conference in Mainz and I think I am improving in terms of finding the right pace and order of topics. However a single 60 min slot is just too short, so if I am going to submit this talk in the future I will need to ensure I have 120 min. In general interested in Symfony2 with all around at the conference. It seemed to be the dominant PHP framework discussed which surprised me, since I thought that Symfony2 was struggling in North America, but maybe it isn't or maybe its just struggling in the USA.

My next speaking engagement was at the South Florida PHP UG. Pablo from ServerGrove suggested that I leverage the fact that I will be in Florida to give a talk. I also held my PHPCR talk there to quite a diverse group. Most people were using home grown CMS solutions or heavily customized solutions based on other CMS. Once again I felt like in the end people really saw the value in having a mature and consistent storage API as well as the benefits of collaboration across CMS for implementing this.

My next stop was Denver for DrupalCon. I was quite excited to be going because I had invested quite a bit of my personal time as well as my Liip sponsored weekly “do what you want on OSS” day in supporting the WSCCI initiative for Drupal8. In a way its strange, since I have never done a Drupal project in my life. Furthermore I am one of the lead people behind the Symfony CMF initiative. However it is simply an exciting opportunity for the entire PHP world, heck given that Drupal runs close to 2% of all websites in the world, its should be exciting for quite a large portion of people on this planet! Furthermore I know that collaboration with Drupal will have benefits for Symfony2 as well as the CMF project as the will continue to push the common code pieces.

The first talk I did together with Fabien Potencier. He has submitted a talk on the Symfony2 components, which Dries announced the day before at the keynote would become a key piece in Drupal8's core architecture. Since I was involved in the initial evaluation of Symfony2 for Drupal, Fabien figured it would make sense if I start things off with a little introduction about why this development could be beneficial for the Drupal community. Needless to say the attendance was jaw-dropping: This was easily the biggest presentation on Symfony2 .. ever .. at a DrupalCon no less! During the entire conference people walked up to me expressing their excitement and so I just want to pass along the countless “thank you for Symfony2” I heard to the Symfony2 community. Speaking of which, many people also asked me why the Symfony community cares so much about Drupal? To which I replied, we realize that this will mean we have a lot more users which will lead to more developers, leading to more code contributions. By the way, DrupalCon Denver has over 3000 attendees, I have been to plenty of PHP conference that had less attendees than were present at the hack day on the day following the conference. Of course we also realize that with Drupal8 using the HttpKernel, it will be a breeze to integrate Drupal8 and Symfony2 applications. This is something many of us currently have to deal with already.

My other talk was a core conversation together with Damien Tournoud about defining the next steps towards a documented oriented storage API for Drupal. I think this makes me the first DrupalCon core conversation speaker to never have installed Drupal. I started things off again with a 15 min intro to PHPCR. Then Damien discussed how to refactor the current Entity and Field API's to a unified API that should eventually be replaced with PHPCR. The goal is to get things far along with Drupal8 that it would be possible to provide a contrib module that would already switch things to PHPCR and at the latest with Drupal9 PHPCR would become the native storage API. We would of course have to push the Doctrine DBAL implementation of Jackalope quite a bit to be able to handle larger use cases in order to make this a viable option for Drupal. As this was a core conversation we then had about 30 min of Q&A where to my surprise no tomatoes were thrown. Instead all attendees seemed to be quite excited and so it seems like things are pretty much on track to get PHPCR into Drupal!

I cannot express how huge this is as the only way I could imagine I could would be with a video of me doing a back flip, but I can't do back flips. With Dries emphasis on mobile and content authoring which was also pushed in Luke's mobile first keynote I think that Drupal is well on track to become the first big CMS to adopt the Decoupled CMS vision that Henri and I have been shouting from the roof tops for a while now. I also discussed CMIS briefly during the talk and then later on with a guy from Alfresco (darn forgot the name) and then again at the hack day with several Drupal core people. We might look into providing an implementation that can expose any PHPCR repository via the CMIS protocol, similar to what Apache Chemistry does for JCR. For an introduction to CMIS see this blog post by Jeff.

Needless to day I am thrilled with what is going on with Symfony2, Drupal and of course PHPCR. Really enjoyed each speaking opportunity and I want to especially thank Liip for funding my travel expenses to Denver as core conversation speakers need to pay for travel and hotel on their own.

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