Welcome To Laracon 2013 – Amsterdam Style

It turns out there is more to Amsterdam than pot, half naked women in windows, canals and what feels like a million bikes. Around 200 developers gathered in historic Amsterdam on the last weekend of August for the first ever Laravel conference in Europe, conveniently called “Laracon“. One and a half day of talks about software engineering in general and in particular the PHP framework Laravel. It was great!

The venue, “Bimhuis”, is conveniently located close to the central station and it was a perfect fit for the conference:

We started of Friday afternoon with Design Patterns, Testing in PHP, Composer and Symphony. My favorites were Jeffrey Way’s talk “Laravel Testing Tips, Techniques and Pitfalls” (“Test enough to make you feel comfortable.”) and Fabien Potencier’s “Standardization, the Symfony Way” (“I still hate PHP”). The social event (with an hour of free drinks) was a good opportunity to chat about the talks and meet new people from the community. It was a great mix of CTOs, CEOs and developers from all over the world.

Saturday there were some more generic PHP/development talks as well as a couple of Laravel specific ones, including one from Laravel creator Taylor Otwell about Artisan commands. I had a few favorites this day, including Matthew Machuga’s “Objects, Testing and Responsibility”, Ben Corlett’s “Bridging the Gap” and Ross Tuck’s very insightful talk “HTTP and Your Angry Dog”. Again we ended with another social hour and then it was time so say goodbye to some new friends. (And yes, there was free beer on Saturday as well.)

One thing I found particularly interesting throughout the conference was the spirit of sharing that was expressed in a lot of the talks. Laravel uses a lot of components from Symfony (Thanks Composer!) without actually contributing to it. Rather than seeing Laravel as competition, Symfony creator Fabien Potencier explained that this was actually his intention. Instead of re-inventing the wheel it would be great to have common PHP packages that are used among different projects. For instance, if a developer has experience with Laravel or Symfony, it would be easier for him/her to understand Drupal 8 because of the underlying components.

Here is an overview of the talks. It’s well worth checking them out. Also there will be videos available in a few weeks so keep an eye out for that (or follow @laraconeu). Update: the edited videos are also online now.

Day 1:

Day 2:

You might also be interested in Ben Rey’s storify (1, 2) of the two days at Laracon.

Concluding, it was a good conference with a lot of great people and inspiring talks. Now I have to do my homework and check out all the new techniques and best practices. Thanks to everybody who made this happen. I’m looking forward to the next Laracon, where ever it may be.

Before and after the conference I also had the chance to explore the city a little bit by foot and by boat. Here are a few impressions: