Ryan Weaver talks about the PHP Community, PHP Conferences, PHP 7 and PAAS

by Ahmed Khan  February 11, 2016

Ryan Weaver, a strong contributor of open source, is the founder of KnpLabs US. He is a Symfony evangelist and the producer of Symfony and PHP video tutorials at KnpLabs.

Moreover, he is the core author of Symfony 2 documentation. He is also an excellent speaker and shares his knowledge through PHP conferences as well. Ryan is a passionate programmer who writes unit tests first.

Ryan Weaver Interview

Ryan is the biggest contributor of Symfony2 official documentation. He is one of the core Symfony team members. I enjoyed taking the interview and I am sure you are going to enjoy reading it as well.

Cloudways: Ryan, it’s an honor for us to have you today for this interview. Let’s tell our audience about you. How did you start your journey? How did you enter the PHP field?

Ryan: Ha! Why does anyone start in PHP or programming? Because I wanted to make some static, boring text on the web change when I refresh! Once upon a time, I had a dream of making a computer parts store online. I only knew about HTML and so went about trying to create a VBscript that would read from a data source and physically write out new HTML files and links to those files. Well guess what: that’s exactly what PHP is famous for doing. Once I could start making a web site dynamic, I was hooked.

Cloudways: You work as US office head and trainer in knplabs. Tell our audience more about your job role. On which projects are you working lately?

Ryan: I teach, and I love it! I was once a terrible programmer…and well, hopefully I’m not so terrible now :). Through the work of great teachers – especially in the Symfony world – I was able to find a rewarding career (and I get to work with my wife, Leanna!). With KnpUniversity, we’re trying to make useful technology accessible to (and fun for) as many people as possible. My trainings involve 100% hands-on coding, and our challenge is to take that interactive experience and transform it for the web.

Cloudways: According to your profile, you have been teaching Symfony framework. How do you see the future of Symfony in the presence of so many frameworks?

Ryan: I joke that I’m a Laravel and Drupal 8 expert…even though I’ve never built a site in either. But it’s true! And it’s a game-changer. The days of being a “Framework X” developer are fading away and being replaced with “PHP” developers. A big part of that is Composer, but another huge part is the fact that a lot of the low-level problems are consistently solved by Symfony and some other libraries (e.g. Monolog).

But the future of Symfony? There are two things I’ll say. First, Symfony just did something amazing from 2.x to 3.0 regarding *not* breaking your project and actually *warning* you of changes you needed to make to be forwards-compatible. I’ve given an entire presentation on this, but the point is this: there’s now a model (and tooling) in PHP where any project can innovate while also giving their users an upgrade path. I really hope that catches on.

Second, now that Symfony is in so many things, our challenge is to continue innovating and stay agile. This is something we talk a lot about in the Symfony core, and while we don’t have it solved yet, there is a tremendous amount of energy that wants to keep pushing forward.

Cloudways: You have been teaching for many years. What would you like to recommend students regarding PHP web development learning?

Ryan: KnpUniversity, of course :). But also, most developers use a framework, and that’s great. But as you’re learning, just remember that any library is a tool. If what you need to accomplish is just too complicated with a tool, feel free to *not* use it. Eventually, you’ll learn more – but be pragmatic and keep your wins going. For example, if you’re writing some super-tough query in Doctrine and can’t figure it out, make a raw SQL query. It’s ok. We have wonderful tools in PHP – don’t let them kill you ;).

Cloudways: You are also the author of Symfony 2 documentation.  Recently, Symfony 3 was released. How do you see this major update?

Ryan: This must be the biggest, most un-cool release ever… and that’s *exactly* how we wanted it :). Symfony 2.8 and 3.0 have the same features – it’s one of the cornerstone pieces of how you’re able to upgrade from Symfony 2.8 to 3.0 without breaking your project. Symfony3 is a major update to *how* releases are done and how releases of a big framework don’t have to cause you to rebuild everything. But with Symfony’s release model, you’ll get new features every release – 3.1, 3.2, 3.3 – you don’t have to wait until 4 for the best stuff.

Cloudways: Conferences and meetups are very important for engaging with the community. Would you like to mention conferences you had been a part of, as a speaker? How do you see the upcoming events of PHP in 2016? In which meetups you will participate in 2016?

Ryan: If you’ve never been to a conference – find one! I paid my own way as an attendee to at least my first two conferences – to Paris and ZendCon in CA. Both were expensive… but totally worth it.

This year, I’ll be attending some of my favorites: Sunshine PHP in Feb, DrupalCon in May (DrupalCon’s are a blast!), PHP SummerCamp in Croatia in Sep and SymfonyCon on Berlin. So, come hang out!

Cloudways: How do you see the PHP 7 release of last year? What would you like to recommend PHP learners about PHP7?

Ryan: Honestly, I’m always about a version behind PHP! That’s not because PHP 7 isn’t great – in fact, they did an amazing job. However, my advice would be to focus on the challenges you need to solve: PHP 7 probably won’t help you do anything that you couldn’t do in PHP 5.6. But, it will run faster – so definitely start pushing whoever you need to at your job to upgrade.

Cloudways: Apart from your job, what are your hobbies and interests? Do you love music, sports or anything else?

Ryan: Open source! Oh, you meant *outside* of programming. Definitely running: I’m an avid distance runner…and if we didn’t stay out so late at conferences, I’d wake up more often to run with people in the community.

Cloudways: You have been a speaker in SunshinePHP.  Would you like to share any experience of SunshinePHP? Would you like to mention someone who has been a great inspiration for you?

Ryan: Yeah, SunshinePHP! This conference is special to us because it’s in February in Miami! Ok, it’s actually special because of its organizer, Adam Culp. This guy has the energy of three people and the generosity and kindness of ten. He makes this conference special and the PHP community.

Cloudways: What would you like to recommend the PHP Community? The PHP Community is constantly  getting bigger. Which personalities do you think are the most inspiring or are pioneers of the community?

Ryan: Be nice and work together. PHP is not in competition with itself, it’s in competition with other languages. One of my favorite people that has the courage to stick their head out is, Phil Sturgeon – follow him on Twitter.

Cloudways: What are your views about cloud hosting? Cloudways is a platform which provides Managed Hosting Services. You can have one-click PHP hosting through Cloudways as well. Have you ever tried Cloudways? If so, what are your views?

Ryan: For the 99% of people, I really think that if you’re not using a Platform as a Service (PAAS), you’re wasting your time. Yes, you often need to learn a few things to get setup, but from personal experience, this is a *massive* investment for the future. I might spend 8 hours today setting up some complex things in a PAAS, and enjoy one-click (one second) deploys for the next 12+ months. That’s a huge time and money saver. If I never have to manually spin up a server on Amazon, I’ll be happy.

I’ve never tried Cloudways specifically, but the space is still wide open. One of the biggest opportunities as a consumer of PAAS is the ability to have a micro-service architecture. If my app is 6 mini-apps, it’s almost a non-starter to try to do this with traditional hosting. But if a ‘git push’ deploys them all and they’re able to talk with each other, now we’re in business. Yitzchok Willroth (@coderrabbi) has a great presentation on micro-service architecture, and automatic deploying is one of his key points.

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About Ahmed Khan

Ahmed was a PHP community expert at Cloudways - A Managed PHP Hosting Cloud Platform. He is a software engineer with extensive knowledge in PHP and SEO. He loves watching Game of Thrones is his free time. Follow Ahmed on Twitter to stay updated with his works. You can email him at ahmed.khan@cloudways.com

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