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Dayle Rees Gets Nerdy In A Candid Chat About PHP 7, Laravel and His Authored Books

Updated on May 10, 2017

9 Min Read

Dayle Rees is a Laravel Framework contributor and developer. He has vast experience of Web Development using Laravel, Symfony and Codeigniter. He has authored 3 books, from which 2 belong to laravel and one for PHP beginners. Currently, he is writing his 3rd book on Laravel. He is also the admin of the Laravel PHP framework group of LinkedIn and is a Marvel comics geek.

Interview With Dayle Rees

In his interview with Cloudways, he talks about the start of his career, compares different PHP frameworks, compares PHP 7 with Node.js and also talks about which developer to follow in the PHP community. Dayle also shares with our readers how his workplace looks like and his thoughts on a fight between DC’s Batman and Marvel’s Black Panther. 🙂

Cloudways: Dayle, when did you start your career as a PHP developer? What motivated you to become a developer and did you have a mentor that helped you in this journey?

Dayle: It’s difficult to remember an exact time. I received my first computer at the age of six, and began to break it, and subsequently fix it. Each time, learning a little more about how it worked.

My interests span a wide range of IT topics including programming, design, networking, sysadmin and automation. I have spent ‘phases’ focusing on boosting my skills in each of these categories. These skills were either self-taught through trial and error, or thanks to articles and tutorials found online.

After leaving university, I decided to focus on web development and have since taken on devops and management responsibilities as well. I’m rapidly approaching a decade in the industry. Gosh, age is catching up to me!

Cloudways: Laravel was the most used framework in 2015. There must be something going right in there. What do you think it is? Which new functionalities do you think Laravel should have?

Dayle: As one of the first users of the Laravel framework, and certainly the first to educate with it, I’d say that what drove me to the framework was a desire for simplicity, and to do away with the verbosity I had found with other frameworks.

I had previously been working with CodeIgniter and Kohana, and while they were functional frameworks, they weren’t all that exciting to use. When I first took a look at Laravel, I found that the source code read like a novel; I was immediately hooked. I wanted to share this fascination with the world. I think that others have now followed in my footsteps, and I’m glad to see that Laravel has become so widespread.

Cloudways: You have experience with Laravel, Symfony, and Codeigniter. How will you compare them with each other? How are they different?

Dayle: I think they are different animals. I see Symfony as a much larger framework, with more optional components. Unfortunately, I also find it the most verbose of frameworks. It demands large amounts of configuration, where Laravel prefers to rely on convention.

While we try to preach ‘DRY’, much of our trade is repetitive in its nature. I think this is why I opt for convention. I don’t want to write a similar service definition for the umpteenth time.

CodeIgniter was great in its day, mostly thanks to it being simple to learn, but I don’t think it can compare to Laravel and Symfony. Laravel and Symfony are built in such a way to encourage extension, and allow for modular software design, which lends itself to more effective testing. These kinds of activities weren’t possible in CodeIgniter without some severe and ugly hacks.

Cloudways: Since has moved to Node.JS, do you think Laravel will also look towards that option even though PHP 7 is here?

Dayle: For a long time PHP was the butt of many language jokes, but I honestly feel that it’s becoming not only a popular language, but a powerful one. PHP7 is great. The speed boost is one thing, but having optional support for full type hinting is a game changer. We’ve also got modern tools like Laravel and Composer, breathing new life into the language and its supporting community.

With this in mind, I think it’s unlikely that Laravel will move from PHP. I think it’s more likely to gain further integration with front-end tools to provide a complete application building platform. That’s where I see it heading in terms of future expansion.

Cloudways: What are your thoughts about PHP 7? Did it generate enough attention to drive developers back from HHVM and Node .JS?  

Dayle: It’s hard to have bad thoughts about PHP7! Given, we’ve received a massive speed boost, and a bunch of grown up language features, it’s opened a few new paths for PHP developers. I think it probably had an impact on HHVM. It’s not all that common that a fork will gain a large following. There are some exceptions of course, I mean, we had Kohana from CodeIgniter back in the day. I just feel that the PHP7 features are all I need right now, and some of the extra features found in Hack just aren’t worth it to me.

I don’t really see it having much of an impact on Node. I think that PHP still has a much lower entry barrier due to its more forgiving syntax. I’m sure Node will continue to excel when dealing with microservices and threaded applications. However, I get the feeling that the likes of Golang and Elixir (maybe even Swift!) will be chomping at its heels. Watch this space!

Cloudways: Dayle, you are author of 2 books for Laravel framework and 1 for PHP namely PHP Panda. Are your penning down any new ones?

Dayle: There are actually three books! ‘Code Happy’ was the first book for the Laravel framework, back in version three times. ‘Code Bright’ was its successor for Laravel four, and then I decided to take a different route and attempt a PHP book. It was an attempt to bring more beginners to the language. It’s the resources that I had wanted when I was starting web development.

Right now I’m working on ‘Code Smart’. It will be my third Laravel book, and will target version 5 of the framework. There’s been a delay with this title as I’ve switched jobs a couple of times and had some personal things to focus on, but I feel like I’m finally finding momentum with it. I’m aiming for a first release later this month.

Cloudways: One of your Git repository has an interesting name: Scientist. What’s the story behind it? What type of project is present in this repo?

Dayle: Scientist is actually a PHP port of a Ruby project that was created by the Github team. It essentially allows you to run two or more versions of code in parallel, and examine whether the results of the code are equivalent. This means we can try some new, refactored, and perhaps more performant code in a production environment without risk, because only the original code will be executed.

It’s a really nifty idea, but the concept can be quite hard to explain. I found Scientist on the Github blog, and having worked on a bunch of legacy projects, I thought to myself “I need this in PHP!.”

Cloudways: Dayle, you are Marvel fan. So, which Marvel character you like most? In your view, who will win a fight Marvel Black Panther or DC Batman?

Dayle: You’ve been spying on me! Great research! Actually, you’ve pretty much hit the nail on the head there. Black Panther is my favourite marvel character, and I’m super excited to see him join the cinematic universe lineup in Captain America: Civil War this year.

The early clips of T’Challa in action are looking fantastic! I’m really glad that Marvel have chosen to bring him to the big screen.

Batman Vs Black Panther

For those who aren’t big Marvel fans, it’s been a really exciting time for the comics as well. Post secret-wars they’ve restarted all of the story arcs, and a number of characters have changed. I’ve done my best to catch up with the new comics, and so far I’m really into the all-new (lady) wolverine! She’s a brutal and enigmatic character!

So T’Challa (Black Panther) and Batmen, eh? There’s no competition. I’ve got a lot of love for Batman. DC may not be my favourite publisher, but they’ve done some great stuff. Still, Batman’s just a little rich kid. T’Challa has the spirits of Wakanda guiding him, superhuman reflexes and senses, a number of awesome skills, and a vibranium threaded suit! Simply put, he’d tear Batman apart!

Thanks for indulging my nerd side!

Cloudways: Who are some people that you would like to recommend to follow in the PHP community, or the people who have influenced you during your journey in the PHP world?

Dayle: I have to thank Taylor Otwell for his impact on my career. Not only did I earn my place in the PHP community through contribution to his framework, but I have also learned a number of new skills and techniques from him directly over the past years. I’d highly recommend following him so that you too can learn a thing or two along the way!

If you’re looking to beef up your Laravel skills, then I wholeheartedly recommend following the likes of Jeffrey Way and Matt Stauffer. Those guys have some fantastic learning resources.

Apart from that, I’d recommend following a bunch of framework and library authors, even if they aren’t known for using the language in which you specialise. You’ll often learn about important concepts from them, valuable opinions, and perhaps even some tools that you can port to your own language!

Twitter is a great resource. I follow every developer I can because it’s a wonderful place to share new tools, articles, and learning resources.

Oh, and why don’t you follow me? I have been known to throw a few entertaining tweets out there! You’ll find me @daylerees.

Cloudways: How do you spend your time when you are not working at all? Every PHP developer has an elephant. Do you have one? Can you show us?

Dayle: Every PHP developer has an Elephant? Where do they keep them? I have a two bedroom apartment in the city. I think I’d struggle. Oh, I see. You mean the ElePHPants? 😉

I’ve actually only got one ElePHPant. It was the original Laravel ElePHPant that went up on Kickstarter. He sits proudly on my desk between a few red pandas.


As far as spare time, well I’m reading comics of course!

Actually, I do a lot of different and mostly nerdy things. I play a lot of video games, ranging from MMORPGs to action games. I play tabletop RPG games with a group of friends. I love to listen to music, mostly metal and indie rock. I watch cult TV shows, and a few anime series. I’ve also got a bunch of rodents that I enjoy playing with. I’ve got two shaw’s jirds (giant exotic gerbils) called Sasuke and Naruto, two gerbils called Hanabi and Kushina, two rats called Tsunade and TenTen, and two hamsters called Fury and Remus. Fury was named after Nick Fury, as he only has one eye.

I’m fortunate enough to have a really nerd-friendly girlfriend (love you Emma!) who’s into similar nerdy activities, so I get away with spending too much time on them!

I also spends a lot of time coding, writing, and learning. Somewhere in all this, I’m trying to find the time to exercise, because I’m rapidly turning into a human marshmallow.

Cloudways: Just to humor our readers, can you please send us an image, What does your desk or workspace look like? 🙂

Dayle: I’ll show you my work desk at Crowdcube, and my gaming rig from home. Will that keep you folks happy? 🙂 My work location at home isn’t all that exciting, as I tend to just use my Macbook on the sofa. Yes, I know it’s bad for your back!

Dayle Rees Workstation

Cloudways: What advice would like to give to the beginners who started their career as Developer?

Dayle: Take every opportunity to learn, but to do so at your own pace. Don’t be put off by more experienced developers preaching of perfectionist techniques. That time will come. Instead, focus on the problems you have now. Engage your curiosity and find ways to solve them. In doing so you’ll learn something new, and you’ll be one step closer to catching up with those more experienced developers.

There’s a lot of skills out there for us to learn. It’s easy to become overwhelmed by it all. Just remember that we’re all creatives, and we’re all trying to build things. Find your own definition of perfection in your projects, but focus on making them functional.

Cloudways: We at Cloudways are providing one-click installation for Laravel. I would like you to check it yourself and share your opinion about the platform. What can we do further to improve the outlook and performance of the platform?

Dayle: The Cloudways platform looks great, and I’m always excited by tools that allow people to bring their ideas to life a little faster.

I’d say focus on making that process fast, and keeping up with the latest versions of the frameworks and applications you provide one click installs for. That’s what’s going to keep developers happy!

It would also be great if you’d advertise (and provide) free services for open source projects! 😉

Thanks for allowing me to get nerdy!

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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.


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