Dries Vints is a Lead Developer at BeatSwitch, a festival management software. He maintains the Laravel.io community portal as well. He has been the publisher of Laravel Weekly. He is the creator of Lock, a popular PHP ACL package. He is living and working in Antwerp, Belgium.
Let’s start his interview without any delay.
Cloudways: First of all, tell us about yourself. How did you start your career? What was the source of motivation behind entering this field?
Dries: I guess my first programming experiences came from when I started hacking on a game called Hearts of Iron when I was fifteen years old. The game came with an extensive mod kit which enabled you to hack the source code and tweak the game any way you wanted. It was quite fun to see how I could tweak the game in various ways. When I got basic programming at college I noticed how similar this was to what I was doing back then and eventually this made me pursue a career in programming and web development.
Cloudways: Tell us about your current job role at BeatSwitch. What is BeatSwitch all about? Would you like to mention people who are contributing significantly with you at BeatSwitch?
Dries: BeatSwitch is a startup based in Antwerp which develops software for the festival industry. We try to help festival and event organizers in organizing their events and help them with artist management, accreditation and various other things they have to cope with.
As lead developer I make sure that our developers have everything they need in order to do their job. This also means helping out with the technical roadmap of our software, making sure that the software architecture stays consistent and up to date and rolling out new releases.
I value all of our developers the same and can’t thank each and everyone enough for their hard work, but I’d like to give a special mention to Gertjan, one of our co-founders, who hired me and whom I work with daily. He’s the one who started it all and still holds the main vision of BeatSwitch as a company.
Cloudways: Tell us about your Github repository Lock, what is it? What is made for? How was the idea generated to make this repository?
Dries: Lock is a library that focuses on permission resolving. I tried to solve an issue which most PHP ACL libraries have no real answer for which is permission resolving but abstracting the persistent logic of it. This will enable developers to integrate the library while still having full control over how they want to persist the permissions while Lock handles the resolving.
I first got the idea when we needed to find a new way to have built-in ACL for BeatSwitch. By extracting this to a package we try to give something back to the community for everything they’ve given us in terms of open-source development.
Lock is on hold now but I hope to eventually pick up where I left off and bring new features to it.
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Cloudways: In an interview, you mentioned that you first discovered Laravel at your first job when you were working with Codeigniter. How do you compare these two frameworks? Which one is better and why?
Dries: Laravel is infinitely better. At the time I was surprised how elegantly Laravel handled certain problems compared to how Codeigniter handled them. Much less boilerplate code, much more readable code and less hassle to do things. Ever since, Laravel has come a long way to improve itself and has left Codeigniter far behind.
Cloudways: Tell us about Laravel Weekly? How did you start this newsletter? How many subscribers of Laravel Weekly do you currently have?
Dries: Laravel weekly currently has about 4000 subscribers. I started the newsletter back in 2013 as a weekly blog where I blogged about everything I saw happening around Laravel. Eventually it made more sense to host it as a newsletter and that’s how Laravel Weekly was born. At the moment Laravel Weekly is on hold because I don’t have the time anymore to maintain it but I do intend to bring it back at some point. It’ll be in a different format though.
Cloudways: In an interview you mentioned that you have used Sublime and PHPStorm as well. What do you think are the best PHP debugging tools?
Dries: I think as far as PHP goes, PhpStorm is the best IDE there is. Jetbrains is also very active in the community which is a big plus for me. PhpStorm has everything you need and more.
Cloudways: How do you see Laravel 5 as compared to Laravel 4? What improvements do you think are still unfulfilled in the current version and will be covered in upcoming versions? Do you think that Laravel is too advanced for newbies in PHP?
Dries: I think Laravel is excellent for beginners. It helps them with starting out with a real PHP framework and makes it a breeze for them to dive deeper into PHP. I think Laravel 5 was a big improvement coming from Laravel 4. We’re so used to things like middleware, form requests, easy testing helpers so I have a hard time imagining how it was back then. It’s getting pretty hard to think how Laravel could become even better but I’m sure Taylor will surprise us like he always does.
Cloudways: How do you see the PHP community, especially the Laravel community in 2016? Who do you think are the most active persons in the Laravel community?
Dries: The Laravel community in 2016 is bigger and more active than ever before. It’s still growing everyday which is wonderful to see. With a continuously growing and active community it’s getting harder for people to stick out. It’s great to see people like Joe Ferguson, Adam Wathan and Matt Stauffer contributing a lot by talking at conferences, writing blog posts or making great open-source libraries. Special shout-out to Freek Murze who has probably built more libraries in the past few months than most people ever did in their entire career.
Cloudways: Tell us about the PHP Antwerp group. How does it contribute to the PHP community? What is the agenda of your meetups? Who else do you think are contributing greatly to the PHP Antwerp group?
Dries: I’m currently running PHP Antwerp together with Frederick Vanbrabant who volunteered to help out a couple of months ago. PHP Antwerp is my way of contributing to the PHP community. I feel like the community has given me a lot over the past few years in terms of knowledge, libraries and also friendship. By hosting these meetups I try to bring people together so they can learn from each other and perhaps start new projects together. We meet up every month or two months depending if we have time and a place to set up a new meetup.
Cloudways: A balanced life gives you motivation to work with efficiency. Apart from your professional life, what are your hobbies and interests?
Dries: This is the part where I admit that my hobbies resemble too much with my work, haha. I’m mostly occupied with PHP Antwerp and Laravel.io, the Laravel community portal. Besides that I love to build new projects and libraries.
I do love watching movies and series. Big soccer fan as well, looking forward to the European championship in June! I love to travel as well although it’s been a while. I’m going to Iceland for a month in the summer which I’m really looking forward to.
Cloudways: Would you like to share what your future goals are?
Dries: Getting the next version of Laravel.io done is my primary goal for the next months. It’s going well and I hope to have something to show in the next few months. Hopefully it’ll be finished by summer.
In longer terms I hope continuing on having fun and building something great at BeatSwitch and starting a few personal side projects of my own. We’ll see what the future holds.
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