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Cloudways Interview with Senior PHP Developer Daniel Abernathy

Updated on September 3, 2021

4 Min Read

Daniel Abernathy is from Dripping Springs, Texas. Daniel is working as an engineer at Mio, who has vast experience with Laravel and Vue. He started working with PHP around 10 years ago, and since that time, he’s made a name for himself in the community. We’re excited to have Daniel here with us today as he talks us through his journey, his experience working with PHP and Laravel, setting up PHP events, and so much more.

Shahzeb: Hi Daniel, it’s lovely to have you for this interview! Could you please tell our readers about yourself and your journey?

Daniel: Howdy Shahzeb! Thanks for asking me to participate. I’m a web developer in Dripping Springs, TX, just outside of Austin. My wife Emily and I have two boys, Carson and Caden. I’ve been working with PHP for about a decade now, starting as a self-taught developer. I started out as a WordPress developer and transitioned into app development with Laravel and Vue.js a few years ago.

Shahzeb: You’ve been organizing Longhorn PHP events for a while now. Can you confirm that the Austin Longhorn PHP event is set to happen on-site this year, given how COVID-19 has halted so many events? How do you think PHP developers benefit from these conferences?

Daniel: The 3rd annual Longhorn PHP will happen this October in-person. We’ve had to move the event twice now, but we feel confident that the October date will make sense as the number of vaccinations continue to rise. In-person events are a valuable part of any developer’s education, largely because of the opportunity for personal interactions with peers and with expert developers. We also think in-person conferences help foster a sense of community amongst PHP developers.

Shahzeb: When and how did you start your career with PHP? Any interesting stories you can share with our readers about your journey? What were the challenges or roadblocks you faced in your early days, and how did you tackle them?

Daniel: I started my career in web development right after college, about 10 years ago, despite having little experience with it. I had first been introduced to HTML in middle school by my dad (an aerospace engineer), but my brother and I weren’t very interested. I wish I’d stuck with it back then!

There were fewer free online resources for self-taught web development when I was getting started, so a lot of my learning was simply hands-on trial and error. I was lucky to start my career in a place where I had room to learn as I worked.

Shahzeb: You have extensive knowledge of PHP development. What motivated you to become a PHP web developer? Who were your mentors and inspirations in this journey?

Daniel: I started getting into PHP via WordPress, as that was the major CMS for building websites when I began my career. The resources I really relied on during those early years included Chris Coyier – both for his front end knowledge and for his Digging Into WordPress book written with Jeff Starr. I also learned a lot from Thord Daniel Hedengren, the author of Smashing WordPress.

As I transitioned out of WordPress into application development, my major influences changed. I started learning from more local & offline sources – meetup groups and conferences. I subscribed to Jeffrey Way’s Laracasts for a long time.

Shahzeb: What should readers know about everything you’re doing in PHP these days?

Daniel: My current company’s application is a bit less traditional for PHP because we are in the messaging space. Although some parts of our tech are more traditional web application-y, the majority of our code runs via webhooks, APIs, and queues. PHP has been less favored in this kind of space until recently, and I want people to know that today Laravel offers as good – if not better – tooling for this kind of app as any other framework, PHP or otherwise.

Shahzeb: Would you like to tell our readers about some of the PHP projects you most enjoyed working on?

Daniel: I wish I had more time and energy for working on open source projects. But I don’t really have a great answer for this question right now.

Shahzeb: What do you enjoy doing when you’re away from your laptop?

Daniel: Outside of web development I enjoy board games, traveling, craft beer, and backpacking (when I get the chance). My wife and I both enjoy watching crime thriller shows.

Shahzeb: What do you look for in a PHP host? In your opinion, what are the benefits of using cloud managed hosting over conventional shared hosting?

Daniel: The biggest benefit I see to managed hosting is peace of mind with security and performance issues. Even if something bad does happen – a bottleneck or vulnerability – someone is being paid to help diagnose and fix issues for you.

Shahzeb: What are your thoughts on hosting solutions such as Cloudways? Do you think these solutions add value to PHP-based applications?

Daniel: I think it’s great anytime a developer can focus more attention on their application and less on devops. Every time I hear a scary story about having to delve into esoteric PHP and Nginx configuration to diagnose a performance issue, I’m thankful I don’t have to do that. If I were launching an app on my own that I expected to receive significant traction, I would definitely explore managed hosting options.

Shahzeb: Who do you think we should interview next and why?

Daniel: Anyone who hosts (or used to host) a PHP conference would be a great candidate.

Shahzeb: It can be difficult to balance work and personal life. So what do you enjoy doing in your spare time? Would you like to tell us about your hobbies?

Daniel: This was somewhat covered above. I wish there were more for me to share right now, but with two toddlers at home I don’t get as much spare time as I used to!

Shahzeb: Can you please share some snapshots of your office space or your current workstation in the COVID-19 pandemic situation for our readers?

Daniel Abernathy workstation

Shahzeb: Thank you once again, Daniel!

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Shahzeb Ahmed

Shahzeb is a Digital Marketer with a Software Engineering background, works as a Community Manager — PHP Community at Cloudways. He is growth ambitious and aims to learn & share information about PHP & Laravel Development through practice and experimentation. He loves to travel and explore new ideas whenever he finds time. Get in touch with him at [email protected]


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