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Jeremy Lindblom Talks About PHP Conferences, PHP 7, and His Work at McGraw-Hill

October 7, 2016

6 Min Read
Reading Time: 6 minutes

Jeremy Lindblom is a software engineer with more than a decade of experience in web development. He currently works for McGraw-Hill Education as a product architect and engineer. He is a keen supporter of open-source ideology and has contributed to many projects including the AWS SDK for PHP and the Guzzle HTTP library. Jeremy speaks frequently at PHP conferences and is the co-organizer of the Pacific Northwest PHP Conference (@PNWPHP) and the Arizona PHP User Group (@azPHP).
Jeremy Lindblom

Cloudways: You are currently associated with McGraw-Hill Education. Tell us about your responsibilities there.

Jeremy: I am a product architect and platform engineer at McGraw-Hill Education, where I work on educational software and platforms like Engrade, that help students to learn and teachers to teach. Right now I am working on a RESTful API to help third-party educational software and content developers more easily integrate with our platform. I’m also transitioning into a product architect role where I can help influence even more of the projects we are working on in our technology-focused organization within McGraw-Hill Education.

In my opinion, McGraw-Hill Education is a great company. They’ve been around for over 100 years and are well-known by many because the textbooks and educational resources they’ve published. McGraw-Hill Education now has a strong focus on creating digital platforms and applying educational technology (ed-tech) and learning science to improve education for all. They also treat their employees very well and have established a very collaborative working environment.

Cloudways: You have worked for more than four years at AWS as software development engineer. How was your experience? Would you like to share some memorable experiences of working there?

Jeremy: Amazon Web Services was a very cool place to work. I was surrounded by hundreds of really smart engineers building awesome products. I worked on the team that built and maintained the AWS SDKs and the AWS CLI. This was a really interesting and fun polyglot team where I had the chance to work on open source projects and frequently interact with customers and the PHP community.

Cloudways: Would you like to mention some people whose work or any other quality had inspired you at AWS?

Jeremy: The co-worker I spent the majority of my time with was Michael Dowling (@mtdowling). He is a fantastic engineer who is not only an expert in PHP but also has a knack for picking up and using other programming languages. He is the author of the Guzzle HTTP library and many other open source projects.

Another person I admired was Trevor Rowe (@trevorrowe), whose knowledge of Vim and Ruby ran deeper than the deepest ocean fissures. I still relate tall tales of his Vim wizardry to many people that I meet.

AWS was home to many other great engineers that inspired me by their in-depth knowledge and experience and dedication to their craft.

Cloudways: AWS has the highest market share in IaaS. In your opinion, how did AWS managed to capture such a huge piece of the pie?

Jeremy: A lot of this has to do with being the first to market. S3 and EC2 were truly pioneering products that changed the course of the software development industry. For many people, AWS is synonymous with “The Cloud” and initially defined what we refer to as IaaS.

However, they continue to be significant leaders in this market, because of their rapid pace of innovation. Everything about the company’s culture and leadership drive them forward in this way. They will never be content, and they will never stop improving.

One thing I wish they did better with, though, is developer experience and outreach. The amount of products they have and the amount of languages and tools they support is a bit overwhelming. I wish they employed more people to educate developers, build stronger developer communities around their products, and improve their documentation and developer resources. They are slowly improving in this area, but it has always felt to me that they are lagging behind where they need to be, especially as the pace of adding new services and features has increased.

Cloudways: Do you know that Cloudways has collaboration with AWS and provides AWS cloud hosting services? Have you tried out our platform? What are your views on managed hosting services?

Jeremy: I haven’t tried Cloudways yet, but maybe I’ll give it a spin soon. Anything that can bring the benefit of cloud hosting to more people, especially those who do not have a DevOps or networking background, is a win in my book. I also appreciate your efforts in community outreach and customer service.

Cloudways: Being the co-organizer of the Arizona PHP User Group, and formerly the Seattle PHP User Group, how do you see the PHP community activities in these parts of the USA? Which other groups or people in the USA are hyperactive in PHP community over there?

Jeremy: The Seattle PHP User Group (@SeaPHP) is a great and very active group. It was awesome to see that community come together for PNWPHP last year and continue to flourish afterward. At the end of 2015, I moved from Seattle, WA, to Phoenix, AZ. Now Tessa Mero (@tessamero) is the president of SeaPHP, and they are doing great.

Right now, I’m helping to run the Arizona PHP User Group (@azPHP) along with Gordon Forsythe (@baohx2000) and a few others that have recently joined in. I can tell that people in the group are getting more excited about the monthly meetups and the average attendance is starting to grow.

It seems like many of the PHP meetup/user groups in the western cities of the USA are pulling in 20 to 40 people each month. And there are a few conferences (e.g., @SkiPHP, @PNWPHP, and @laphp’s PHP Mini-camp at @ladrupal’s DrupalCamp) that are the result of the recent growth in these communities. When people take time out of their busy schedules to get together and help each other learn and network, it is highly rewarding for everyone involved at both social and professional levels.

Cloudways: You are one of the organizers of the Pacific Northwest PHP conference. Who else is putting in effort for organizing PNWPHP?. In 2016, when is this event going to be held? Who are the speakers in 2016?

Jeremy: Planning events is a full-time job, in my opinion, so I’m glad that I have had a handful of helpers that helped me realize my dream of running a conference. Tessa Mero (@TessaMero), Andrew Woods (@awoods), and Cory Fowler (@cfowlerMSFT) are the main organizers’ crew, but there are others involved outside of us four, who are helping more and more.

PNWPHP is happening this year from September 15-17th in Seattle, Washington, USA. Our updated website is online (http://pnwphp.com/2016/) and has information about the event, buying tickets, and the call for papers (which is currently open). So far we have Taylor Otwell (@taylorotwell), Lorna Mitchell (@lornajane), and Adam Culp (@adamculp) as our featured speakers. The rest of the speakers will be determined through the CFP process.

Cloudways: You said in a podcast interview with Cal Evans that you were among 1 of the ten people who worked on PHP at AWS. Who were the others who contributed in your AWS SDK PHP project?

Jeremy: There were not many PHP developers at Amazon/AWS. The AWS SDK for PHP has had major contributions from a handful of really great people including Ryan Parman (@skyzyx), Michael Dowling (@mtdowling), and Jonathan Eskew (@jreskew).

Cloudways: What do you think PHP has in store for the year 2016? How do you see the future of PHP7?

Jeremy: PHP is a very active language and community at the moment. The PHP Internals crew are planning out new features for PHP 7.1. The PHP-FIG is exploring async, middleware, and other user-land proposals. There are more conferences and user groups for PHP than ever before.

However, PHP sees a lot of competition with Node.js and Go recently. The push to microservice architectures is highlighting strengths in other platforms. PHP needs to continue to adapt. PHP7’s performance improvements were a step in the right direction, but there is more to do. Interesting things are happening with asynchronous programming models in PHP, and I think that it will become more important and normal in the future. HTTP/2 will also start to play a bigger role in what we do. Also, I’d love to see support for PHP on the AWS Lambda platform.

Cloudways: How do you see the competition in PHP frameworks market? Which framework do you like the most and why?

Jeremy: I think we have seen a shift towards components and simpler/smaller frameworks that bind the components together. I think my favorites right now are Slim 3 and Lumen, but I’m also interested in Zend Expressive.

Cloudways: Apart from your professional life, what are your hobbies and interests? What do you think about work-life balance?

Jeremy: Open source PHP software and user group organization and participation have been a part of my hobbies for some time, though as my kids are getting older, I’m finding less time for it. My 6-year-old son is playing in a tee-ball league and has regular homework from school. My 4-year-old daughter is learning ballet. We’re about to move into a new house. So really, my family is becoming my main hobby. Also, I play a lot of Star Wars Galaxy of Heroes on my iPhone.

Work-life balance is always difficult for me. I tend to get sucked into projects, especially when I’m coding, and work longer hours than needed. I’m trying to do better at that. My recent change to working from home has been nice for my commute, though. My commute when I worked at AWS in Seattle was about 2 hours, each way. That was 4 hours of my day! I’m very grateful for being able to work from home now, so at the end of the day, I can shut down the computer, walk out of my office, and give my wife and kids hugs.

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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. You can email him at ahmed.khan@cloudways.com

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