Today we are honored to have Anna Filina for this interview. She was a vice president at FooLab and an organizer for ConFoo, a world-renowned conference for developers in Montreal and Vancouver area. Additionally, Anna speaks regularly at international PHP conferences, provides training and consultancy to the developers around the world.
Cloudways: Hello Anna and thank you for taking out time for this interview! Could you please describe your career as a PHP developer and what motivated you to choose this line of work?
Anna: I started programming as a hobby when I was 11. I discovered PHP at the age of 16 and that’s when I became a freelance developer. I always had a passion for building things and an inclination for logic and science. This was a natural career path for me.
Cloudways: In addition to development, you also offer training to developers. Please tell us more about your training-related experience. What does a typical training session covers?
Anna: I train on a variety of topics. I teach PHP, RESTful APIs, unit tests and the Symfony framework. My format is usually one or preferably two days. I teach some theory and then let the students do an exercise to apply that theory. I use real world examples and customize every training. The objective is always to leave the developers with enough skill to get started and seek answers in the right direction.
Cloudways: Anna, which is your favorite PHP framework in PHP? What do you think is the future of PHP frameworks?
Anna: My favorite framework is Symfony. I have been using it since version 1. It’s hard to say what the future holds, but I think that there will always be a place for a variety of frameworks. There will be the ones that are easy to pick up for new developers, and there will be the more advanced ones with a steeper learning curve. All I could hope for is for the entry-level frameworks to steer developers towards best practices early on and avoid bad habits.
Cloudways: Do you offer consultancy? What kind of people/businesses come to you for advice?
Anna: I do. I get the full range of clients. I have small entrepreneurs, large enterprises and even intergovernmental organizations. They all get value from my advice.
Cloudways: Do you think that conferences and similar events help PHP community in anyway? Tell us about your conference related experience?
Anna: Yes, I do think that conferences are an important part of the PHP community. I encourage new conferences and user groups. It’s one thing to watch videos on the Internet, but it’s a much more enriching experience to meet like-minded people to discuss ideas. I speak at PHP and other conferences as often as I can to share my expertise and help developers write better software.
Cloudways: What are your expectations from this year’s ConFoo ? How should speakers prepare their talk and what topics should be covered?
Anna: The nearest ConFoo is happening in Vancouver this December. This would be our second event in that city, and I expect a lot more attendees. Speakers should send abstracts via our public call for papers system and subscribe to receive a newsletter for future call for papers. We seek a variety of topics: programming languages, databases, security, devops, architecture, testing, management, career, etc. The full list of themes is on our website.
Cloudways: What kind of talks do you normally give? Do you share your presentations on the web?
Anna: I give talks on APIs, legacy code, performance tuning, unit testing, security, etc. Most of my presentations have a video online and all of them have slides on Speakerdeck. Here is a keynote that I gave recently on data breaches.
Cloudways: You are a regular at attending and organizing events, Who are your closest friends in the community?
Anna: I consider so many people my friends that I wouldn’t know where to start. I would instead use this opportunity to give a shout out to some of my friends who don’t get as much recognition as they deserve:
Juliette Reinders Folmer, for her selfless open source work and for being such a wonderful human being.
Yann Larrivée, who worked tirelessly for 15 years to make PHP Quebec and ConFoo happen.
Stefan Priebsch, who gives really valuable talks about architecture, and is also a very open and nice person.
Cloudways: What do you do to unwind? Do you have any geeky hobbies? What about favorite movies and sports teams?
Anna: I often play video games. I won’t tell you how many hours I clocked on Skyrim. I like going to metal concerts, watching science channels on YouTube, and making cool Halloween costumes (Darth Maul, wraith from Stargate Atlantis, pink Power Ranger, etc). Stargate is my favorite movie and the subsequent series are also my favorite. I’m not much into sports anymore, but I definitely enjoy a good hockey game on occasion.
Cloudways: What are your plans for the future? Would the PHP community see your contributions to new (or existing) platforms and tools?
Anna: I do plan to spend a little more time on open source. I already increased my contributions this year. Although I also see my other work as a valuable contribution: organizing conferences, speaking, teaching and even being there for people during hard times.
Cloudways: To inspire our readers, could you post some pics of your office space and the workstation?
Anna: Ha! My workstation is not very inspiring. It’s a mess, despite my being an organized person when it comes to building projects or organizing conferences. It did remind though that I have a second GeForce card lying on my desk that I should put into my gaming PC some day. Instead, here’s a picture of me at ZendCon in my favorite costume:
Cloudways: Do you think that managed hosting solutions help developers kickstart web projects without worrying about server management issues? What do you think about managed hosting solutions like Cloudways that provide a full-featured and highly optimized PHP stack with Laravel, Symfony, and other applications?
Anna: It makes a lot of sense to offer managed hosting solutions, since not every developer even knows how to manage servers. It took me many years to learn how to do it, then many more years to learn how to do it properly. Even for those who can do it, it can be too much of a hassle. Time is precious.