Laracon US: Day One

The Artisans Collaborative team had the privilege of attending Laracon this year in Louisville, KY. We have had a fantastic time and wanted to share our initial thoughts from Day One. Laracon kicked off to a great start with quick and easy registration and great swag from sponsors such as Vehikl and BugSnag. After a brief intro from Taylor Otwell, we enjoyed talks from the likes of Matt Stauffer and Eryn O'Neil leading up to the final keynote and "the next big thing."


Leveraging Laravel

While we often listen to Matt Stauffer's podcast we had never heard him speak at a conference before. His talk on Rapid Application Development (RAD) was right in-line with our engineering approach and agile development strategies. Although his example was simple it made a compelling case for Laravel's easy entry point for any side project or small application. His slides are available to view online.

When It All Hits the Fan

Eryn O'Neil on the other hand, we had previously listened to at Lonestar PHP 2013. Once again she gave the all too real truth about customer engagements. She recommends asking the important "why" questions which steers customer communications towards achievable expectations. Artisans Collaborative has gratefully borrowed many of Clockwork's methodologies and integrated them into our workflow including the highly recommend checklists. You should definitely get and read Clockwork CEO, Nancy Lyons's book Interactive Project Management.

Artisan JeoPHPardy

After the morning talks was a brief interlude with the very fun and amusing game of "JeoPHPardy" including categories like "All Is Well That Is Otwell" on Laravel trivia and "Top of the Class" on PHP standard libraries. Many of the questions proved to be harder than expected but we were happy to play along and get some wrong but most right. Jeremy Mikola made sure to liven it up and keep it entertaining. An enjoyable break between sessions.

Chasing "Perfect"

Following the lunch break were a few more talks leading up to the closing keynote. Adam Wathan demonstrated with some live coding, his methods for refactoring based on Kent Beck's Smalltalk Best Practice Patterns book. While this talk may have have seemed old-hat for advanced programmers familiar with refactoring and a bit too fast-paced for beginners, it was up-close magic for those junior developers transitioning into their senior careers. Regardless of experience level, his time-tested wisdom on writing clean code was well received.

Open-Sourcing Mental Illness

Another important talk given was on "Open-Sourcing Mental Illness" by Ed Finkler. As a public service announcement of sorts, the point of this session was to bring awareness to the reality that many of us suffer from various mental disorders and diseases which like any other medical condition can impair our ability to assimilate and function in the workforce. For employers this talk raised a variety of questions while driving home the point that while we all may primarily interact with computers, at the end of the day we work with people. Each of us has a responsibility to show and share in the personal challenges every person on our team faces.

Navigate Your Git Repository

While the title Gemma Lynn gave the topic may have made it seem like it was geared towards being a primer on managing your Git commands, this talk was anything but that. It delved into the maths and graph theory behind our favorite version control software (VCS). Her talk was an indepth look at how and why Git works so well as a decentralized source control solution rather than how to use it. For those looking for the Git primer we would suggest the excellent Laracasts series on Git.

Introducing Laravel Spark

All of the Day One talks led up to the final keynote by the event organizer and creator of the Laravel framework, Taylor Otwell. He described the purpose behind each component of the Laravel ecosystem and how they fit into the Artisan's toolset. He talked about how Homestead provides a simple developer environment while Forge and Envoyer provide a no-fuss, zero-downtime deployent environment. He then showed how Laravel being constructed of many internal packages and other add-on packages makes development a breeze.

Finally Taylor introduced a new set of fully-functional packages designed for the next great Software-As-A-Service (SaaS) based business. "Spark," as he is calling it, will be available some time after Laracon EU and should make subscription based services even easier to build. His demo of the application showcased some amazing functionality, simplified code wrappers, and great scaffolding for Bootstrap based UI components.

The keynote ended in a roar of applause and the official after-party commenced for Day One. At the after party, I was able to ask Taylor some questions about Spark. While there was so much that it already did in the demo, Taylor said he has even more planned for it. Spark will make for an interesting new tool to put in Artisans Collaborative's solution set and so we are excited for its official release later next month.

Conclusion

Over all the day was a grand success. From registration to after-party every session offered the audience a glimpse at a particular aspect of the industry. We preferred the content and surrounding discussion of the morning talks, however, the keynote and introduction of the next phase of Laravel development and the Artisan flow were still great to hear about. Taylor has done a great job organizing the event and we conclude Day One looking forward to more great talks tomorrow.