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Joe P Ferguson, MemphisPHP Organizer, Talks About OpenSource and Community Involvement

Updated on May 10, 2017

5 Min Read

Joe P Ferguson is a very active and experienced personality in PHP community. He has vast experience of working in PHP and is currently working at vector media group as a backend developer. He is also the organizer of MemphisPHP. Joe has been working in development field since many years and is an avid fan of community building, PHP development and open source. Besides development, Joe loves reading about space and is also a frequent contributor to the open source community. Read what he had to say in this exciting interview.

Joe P Ferguson Interview

Q1: Joe, you have been working since many years now. Share with our audience how you started your career? What was the source of inspiration behind entering in this field?

Joe: My first “professional” tech job was in 2005, working for a small company that sold hair care projects online. I had been working with various programming languages since 1996 and always knew I wanted to be a professional programmer. The inspiration was, being able to write code that ran something on the Internet, a shop, a content management system, or anything big and seemed interesting.

Q2: You have worked at many companies? Would you like to mention some of your best working experience(s) with any specific people(s)?

Joe:Some of the best work experiences I’ve had were at RocketFuel in Memphis, TN. Andy McFarland was great to work with and taught me a lot about slow, steady progress changes on large applications where uptime and reliability is paramount.

Working for the past year with Vector Media Group I’ve come to know a lot of talented developers and I’ve been able to learn a lot of about complex systems and solving really interesting problems for our clients.

Q3: Joe, you call yourself a community builder. How do you see the power of PHP community? According to you, what are the advantages that can be achieved by keeping connected with PHP community.

Joe: The power of the PHP community comes from the willingness to share. We share code, successes, and sometimes heartbreak. I have so many friends in the PHP community and we all seem to have this common goal of helping anyone better themselves. The best advantage I’ve seen from being involved in the PHP community (outside of the amazing people) is within your professional career. I found out about my previous and current job through the PHP community. I also like to think my involvement in the PHP community helped my employers know that I was going to be a good hire 😀

Q4. You have been a speaker at SunshinePHP2015. How was the experience? Would you like to share some of your experiences? Are you going to participate in any such conferences this year too?

Joe: SunshinePHP 2015 was incredible, we just finished SunshinePHP 2016 and it was even better. What better time to head to sunny Miami, FL than in early February? I really enjoy SunshinePHP because it’s a diverse schedule each year. There are also many local Southern Florida attendees and it’s awesome to see their local community turn out for the conference.

I’ll also be speaking at php[tek] 2016, I’ll be doing a Laravel training session. I’m also hoping to speak at a few conferences this fall.

Q5: You are the organizer of MemphisPHP. Tell us about your PHP usergroup? Who else is working with you in this usergroup?

Joe: MemphisPHP is a community of PHP developers and open source enthusiasts in the Memphis, TN area founded May 23, 2010 by Jeremy Kendall right after he came back from a php[tek] conference that had a big focus on user groups. I took over the user group in 2013. We have a normal attendance of 15-20 people. We have a diverse group of professionals and hobbyist developers who utilize in Laravel, SlimPHP, ZendFramework, and other PHP Frameworks.

Q6: What is the role of PHP user groups in PHP community? What do you think are the best PHP groups of 2016?

Joe:The role of the local user groups is to provide that conference style sense of community to local / remote areas. You don’t have to have conference level talks at your user group, but you should promote that community feeling, willingness to help out and share. I’m sad to say I haven’t been able to see many other user groups when out traveling for conferences.

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Q7: In PHP, things are changing very fast. Within last 2 months, we had PHP7 major release accompanied by PHP 7.0.1 and then PHP 7.0.2. What do you think PHP has in store in 2016?

Joe:I hope we have the same adoption for PHP 7 than we did for PHP 5 without having to push so hard. The GoPHP5 movement was a lot of time and effort of many people in the community, hopefully that level of effort won’t be required to push developers into the future (of PHP 7!)

Q8: PHP has lots of frameworks now. Which PHP framework would you like to recommend and why?

Joe:I enjoy the Laravel framework because it is quite opinionated so it is easy for developers to pick up and build things very quickly, but still flexible enough to use in large, complex applications while still being easy to manage and work on. When I’m not working in a Laravel code base I’m building applications with SlimPHP.

Q9: How was your experience with Cal evans? He once mentioned you as one of his good friends. He is also contributing a lot in the PHP community. Besides Cal, who are some of your most go to individuals in the PHP community.

Joe: Cal Evans is one of those people you just want to hang around because he’s always pairing you up with someone to help solve a problem you have or he’s telling great stories about conferences past. When Cal needed some help with NomadPHP, I was one of the people who replied (not knowing at all what I was getting into) and he took a chance on me and it has worked out really well for the both of us. That is how NomadPHP Lightning Talks came about. Two years later, we’re still expanding the lightning talks and I’m even hosting the regular NomadPHP sessions when Cal is out travelling.

Some of my other go to people in the PHP community: Chris Cornutt – Great for having in depth security related discussions with. Matt Stauffer – I dare you to have a conversation about building products with Matt and not immediately want to go ship something awesome. Chris Tankersly – great with DevOps and always enjoy discussing frameworks with him.

Q10: From your profile, it seems that you are a pet’s lover, especially cats? How do you manage to have time for pets with such a busy working schedule?

Joe:I’m a dog person, but my wife is a cat person. So naturally I’m now a cat person as well :D. I think cats are the perfect pets for busy people, they don’t require nearly as much attention as dogs and cats seem to have such unique personalities.

Q11: How do you relate a website’s performance with the hosting services? What is your opinion about managed Cloud hosting companies like Cloudways? Cloudways also provides PHP cloud hosting services. What are your reviews about the rising Cloud Platform.

Joe:I am fiercely loyal to hosting services that show they can perform and that they take security seriously. I like Cloudways because of the community involvement they have, and they seem to keep their customers really happy. Not being a Cloudways client, I see the value for people who may not be sure the best way to move their applications into a cloud platform and it seems Cloudways makes that quite easy.

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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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