Technically Creative PHP Developer Frank de Jonge Talks About His Working Style

by Ahmed Khan  March 16, 2016

Frank de Jonge is a freelance PHP developer. He is a member of “The PHP League” which is a PHP user group of developers sharing common goals. He has been a great PHP speaker at various conferences like PHPBenelux, SymfonyCon and LaraconEU.

Frank de Jonge interview

Frank de Jonge really loves to speak at conferences. All of his development is in accordance with industry standards. He also has a background of working in the designing field. He has been the core contributor of FuelPHP. He is an active member of his local PHP community. Today, we sat down for a discussion with Frank about everything PHP buffs love: the fusion of solving problems using PHP programming and learning through social meet ups.

Cloudways: First of all, tell us how you started your career in the development field? What was the motivation behind entering this field?

I got into this field by accident. When I grew up I played in a band, when you have a band, you need a website. Nobody in the band had any money to pay to have it made, so I thought; “It can’t be that hard, I’ll figure it out.” This turned out to be true. Until that website got hacked (xss attack). At that point I just wanted to make sure that never happened again, and started doing extensive research. This research eventually turned into contributing to the FuelPHP framework. During that time I decided I’d give a life as a programmer a try.

Cloudways: In an interview, you said that you believe in teamwork and circulating knowledge within your team. What do you think should be the optimum level of sharing with the team?

The optimal level of knowledge sharing, for me, would be if no piece of information is owned by a single person. I’m also a huge fan of peer programming sessions, even in a senior/junior couple this is beneficial for both parties.

Cloudways: According to your online profile, you are working on ‘Flysystem’. Tell our audience what it is. What is its actual scope?

Flysystem is a filesystem abstraction package for PHP. In its core Flysystem gives you a standardized interface to work with filesystems of different flavours. You can use the same interface for dealing with files stored locally and their removal (ftp, s3, dropbox, etc). This opens up many possibilities and allows you to defer many filesystem related choices, which I think is great!

Cloudways: You have been a speaker of Laracon in 2013 and 2014. Do you want to share any experiences or personalities who you think are contributing a lot in the PHP community?

To make the list complete, I also gave a talk at the 2015 edition ;). One of the greatest things about speaking (and attending) conferences is meeting people. Instead of interacting with random people on the internet, you’re actually interacting with friends. For me that changed a lot, made the open- source world a much nicer place.

Cloudways: You have even taught PHP, HTML, CSS? Are you still teaching? Would you like to recommend some tips to new teachers who have just started teaching programming?

Oh wow, that’s a while back! How did you even find out about this?! I no longer teach, but I still share as much as I can. Whenever possible I’ll have sessions with fellow developers to teach each other what we’ve researched recently. This forces you to verbalise your newly acquired knowledge, which is a great tool for learning. On the other side you receive information from somebody that just acquired it, so it’s relatively unbiased.

Cloudways: In an interview podcast by @calevans you stated that you first started speaking at conferences from AmesterdamPHP. Also you admired Rafael Dohms being a lead speaker over there. How was your overall experience working with him? Would you like to tell our audience some more good experiences of AmesterdamPHP? Would you like to mention some other inspirational personalities in PHP community?

Ross Tuck, without a doubt. He’s helped me in my career by giving me one of the first opportunities to solve some very interesting problems. This gave me much confidence and allowed me to take on bigger and more complex projects. Besides that his contribution (tactician) to the PHP league is one I’ve used many many times and will continue to do so. He organises DOM code and is an amazing speaker. He’s the real deal.

Cloudways: English is not your first language, you are Dutch. But the way you speak in conferences is awesome. How do you prepare to speak at conferences when there are lots of native audience members in front of you?

Thank you so much! I really appreciate that, I try to be as understandable as possible. One thing that really helps is being part of AmsterdamPHP, our local user group. It’s an English speaking community, so at least once a month I’ll speak English and talk about code. This helps you to build up your vocabulary. Not only does that help me speak better English, it also provides a more welcoming environment for people who don’t speak Dutch. Even when there’s just a single person in the room that doesn’t speak Dutch, I’ll happily switch to English.

Cloudways: What do you think, how significant is it to speak in local PHP user groups? What would you like to recommend to a person who wants to start speaking at PHP conferences?

Speaking at user groups is a great way to bootstrap your speaking career and try out new talks. You can try out new stuff, get feedback and idea’s to improve your talk before going onto a bigger stage. This can make you more confident, which is great for your appearance, and allows you to streamline and remove “bugs”. Speaking for your friends can be intimidating, but speaking for a room with 400 people seriously requires some getting used to.

Cloudways: You once said that writing a few abstracts is important before speaking in conference. You also write everything before speaking. How can one further improve his speaking skills?

I tend to write out everything I’m going to say for any given talk. This is my safety net. Writing an abstract multiple times, preferably in different ways, also ensures your spending some time thinking about your subject. Preparing a talk isn’t done in a day, so you want to make sure you’re got something you’re really passionate about.

Cloudways: You created a composer package flysystem. Tell us how the idea clicked in your mind? What it is it all about? How many people have adopted the Flysystem?

Somewhere in 2014 I was working on a project. I needed to access an FTP server. This server had an IP whitelist, so if I wanted to run my code, I had to be in at my client’s office. As a freelancer, this was a restriction. My solution was to create a standardized interface so I could develop on my local filesystem but in production talk to the FTP server. This allowed me to take back some personal freedom, I could work from home (or the train) again! This eventually turned into the first version of Flysystem. At the time of writing Flysystem is installed over 5 million times.

Cloudways: You are also the member of “The PHP league”. Who are the other persons working with you significantly in this user group? Also tell us more about this user group. How it is different from other user groups?

I’m actually quite happy to tell you we’re not that different from many of the open-source groups anymore. Since we started many more people and groups have popped up providing frameworks.

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About 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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