16 September 2008

Tuesday at ZendCon

Kind of a slow morning at ZendCon (to me, anyway). Started off with the keynote by Harold Goldberg, Zend Technologies CEO. Mostly business-speak, so not too exciting (I'm a nuts-and-bolts sort, I guess).

Then I went to "Of Haystacks and Needles" by Derrick Rethans. This looked interesting to me because of my php|arch article. One of the people who wrote about my article seemed to advocate storing records as documents, like maybe XML documents. I think that's a pretty interesting idea, because storing it like that sidesteps the whole issue of different records having different sets of fields. And I could just store the XML string in a text column or something. But I didn't know how I'd do searches--if I want to find a record submitted by someone whose last_name is Smith, it seems like I'd have to run a DB query to get the XML string for every record, pull it out of the DB and into application memory, parse each XML string, and look for any that match. So I was hoping that this would give me some ideas of how to do this (although lately I've been thinking about stored procedures). Anyway, the talk gave me several things to look at more closely later:

Lunch was a catered affair again, but no celebrities this time (not that I realized, anyway).

Things picked up after lunch, starting with "PECL Picks..." with Elizabeth Smith. This was a whirlwind survey of some PECL projects that Elizabeth deems "cool." Here are some of the ones that look interesting to me:

Next was "Knight Rider Methodology to Software Develoment" in which Eli White covered a lot of development tools and techniques. The theme was how Michael Knight got lots done on (the 80s TV show) "Knight Rider" by using the tools at his disposal (well, tool: the car, KITT). The talk was punctuated by clips from the show (one of my favorites as a kid, and it's far cheesier than I remembered--wow). Here are some fun quotes from Eli's talk:

  • "hardware is cheaper than people"

  • "use someone else's time as your own" (use libraries rather than re-inventing the wheel)

  • "nothing is right the first time: even 'hello, world!' needs internationalization" (debuggers)

After his talk, I'm looking forward to trying out some subversion GUIs like subcommander and rapidsvn.

Paul Reinheimer gave a great talk about how Web 2.0 breaks the browser's Back button, and he talked about a really interesting solution using the yahoo user interface (YUI). He also talked about how to deal with AJAX responses coming back in an order different from that in which they were sent. I think that'll take a few reads for it to sink in for me, but I'm looking forward to trying it out. Paul does PHP training, and he's a really good speaker.

Finally, Eddo Rotman gave a good presentation about PHP errors and exceptions. His talk has inspired me to write a cron job which knows a list of PHP application error logs and emails me the entries made in the last 24 hours: maybe it'll append a marker to each log file and email the entries written since the previous marker.

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