Matt Trask

Cascadia PHP

September 16, 2018 | 6 Minute Read

The inaugural Cascadia PHP has wrapped and it was a blast. This is gonna serve as my little recap of the conference.

Start by learning how to learn

Before the opening keynote, I woke up at 4am on Thursday to head over to Portland via LAX. Let me just say: LAX sucks. Its terrible. Its a newly remodeled terminal that is more of a hot mess then some APIs we all know about. The one saving grace was that I got to try Shake Shack. Otherwise I spent a few hours working while sitting on the ground trying to not use up all my battery on my laptop. But I digress.

I was picked up at PDX by Alena who is one of the organizers of the conference. It was a nice touch, even though I was ready to get on the TriMet and head to the hotel myself. We made a quick stop at Treehouse, the online learning platform, which was fun because thats where I learned the initial stages of programming. The hotel itself was quiant and dated, but still really nice. It had a good feel to it, and they utilized the spaces well for the conference.

The opening keynote was done by Nicolas Hampton where he dived into the topic of learning and learning how to not be afraid of failing your way upwards. It set a good tone to the conference cause he had a nice little swagger to him as he talked. He opened up about some personal struggles he ahd adding to the relatibility of himself.

After that, I spent the bulk of my time in the hallway track, catching up with friends and working on my own slides and code for my upcoming talk. It was great to catch up with Samantha Quinones, Michael Cullum, Cal Evans, Adam Culp and more.

After lunch I disappeared to the speakers room where I hung out with Tim Lytle as we put on the finishing touches of our talks. We were both talking about APIs, but in different contexts. What is great though is that the organizers paired us together so Tim got everyone started with tools to use to build APIs while I came after him to talk about the OpenAPI Spec and what it can bring to the table. Unfortunately, given that both Tim and I only had 30 minutes each to speak, there was little time for questions so I put myself down on the uncon board for the next day to do a “REST, OpenAPI, HATEOAS AMA” so that if people had questions they could ask them in a relaxed setting.

That evening I dipped out on the opening keynote but I heard and saw wonderful things on twitter about it. We have an office in Portland so a few of the people from there were gracious and gave up their Friday night to hang out with me which made this trip a whole lot more fun. Going back to the hotel just in time to finish up their happy hour I ended up in a fascinating and possibly life changing conversation about some recent political actions with a few attendees. One of the people came up to me the next morning to thank me for opening her eyes to another opinion on the topic, which I thought was both nice and weird that I was able to shape an opinion.

Second Day… Lets help people.

The second day was started off in a similar fashion to the first: with a keynote to set the tone of the day. VM Brasseur, who I have seen on Twitter but never in person, talked about getting involved with the community at any level is a way to help the proejct out which I think really resonated with the attendees. It’s daunting to get involved with open source and a very established community so finding ways in and opening those doors for others it what needs to happen. It was a great call to action.

After that, I spent some time listening to Adam Culp talk refactoring before I was pulled into a talk about GraphQL by Ashley Hutson. While I’m not a fan of GraphhQL it was good to see what it can do, and where the use cases are for it. I followed that up with watching Sammy Kaye Powers talk about how its possible to write the web without frameworks. While frameworks are great and do a lot for us, Sammy made the case that by not using a framework you can make yourself write better code faster in the future for both framework and none framework projects.

Be an ally

The lunch keynote was probably the most needed. It was Craig Dennis who stepped up and told us how we can be better allies to the people in the community who are being underserved or treated poorly. He talked about how having a baby girl opened his eyes to things he never thought of, and from where I sat I could hear women verbally agreeing. I can only hope everyone was as touched as I was by that talk.

For my little AMA, a few people showed up and we had a very loose but productive conversation about APIs, OpenAPI and some good strategies for building APIs. Adam Englander brought some great questions which helped the conversation flow.

Again I hallway tracked it for the last session while we waited for Cal’s keynote. We all know Cal, we love Cal. And again, he knocked it out of the park, even when we sat in the back laughing. Its a sign of love.

Overall, this was a great conference. What struck me most was when Cal asked how many people had seen him keynote, more hands stayed down then go up. This shows me a few things:

  • A conference was needed in Portland.
  • The PHP Community is strong in Portland.
  • This will turn out to be a great conference for years to come.

My personal complaint is that I spent more time with the speakers and friends over making new connections. This is a thing I always want to work on, but the devil you know is better then the devil you dont. It’s a lot easier to be comfortable over not.

I think Alena, Korvin and everyone involved should be proud of the work they did to make this a possible. Hopefully I can make it back next year either as a speaker or just an attendee.

Til next time!

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