PHP and Javascript at OSCON 2009

I took an opportunity to head down to OSCON a week or so ago on a free expo pass. I always wanted to attend OSCON up in Portland, but I never had the opportunity to go. Anyway I invited another developer along and made the morning drive down to San Jose amid unusually light traffic. Reminded me of the times I drove around during the dotcom bust.

As an expo attendee there were a number of free things to do beyond walking around looking at vendors. The bulk of these involved attending OSCamp which initially looked sort of like it might be an Open Space type offering, but ended up being more of a loosely organized mini conference. I listened to three different speakers.

Bill Shupp from gave a talk on the PHP PEAR proposal process works. The key takeaways were that it helped to bring PHP coders into a more formal process where you follow some coding standards, are expected to have unit tests, and go through a code review process. He explained that had really gotten into unit testing and TDD including hiring the author of PHPUnit to help them with the adoption. They are also running a CI server and a nice 52 inch monitor with red or green for each currently running sprint.

I didn’t catch the name of a speaker who explained how he got into open source through the PHPbb bulletin board software, but it was nice to see a high school student who really felt empowered by contributing to software that’s used by thousands of sites.

Marcus Westin from Meebo gave a talk on Javascript best practices which included a mention of HTML 5. It was compelling enough to make me think I should look into it. Meebo is essentially a giant javascript application and Marcus explained that he’s a full time Javascript engineer. I hadn’t really thought of the idea of full time javascript developers, but Meebo is actually hiring even in the bad economy. He talked about how they’d been cleaning up the codebase over time, but there was still some 8000 line Javascript file that was too hairy to refactor. Sounds like a great challenge to get some test harness around.

Overall I enjoyed the free expo day at OSCON, and if I get the chance to be sponsored by my employer in the future I’d put it on my short list of potential conferences.