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Amsterdam Wrap-up: The Directors Cut

A good chunk of this blog post was posted over at DevZone. However, this one contains more personal observations and general nuttiness.

I’ve just returned from my second trip to the Netherlands and, as with the first one, I had a wonderful time. This time, I was honored to speak at the PHP Business Seminar put on as a joint project by my good friends Ibuildings and my new friends Sogeti.


Amsterdam is a beautiful city and I always love when I get to travel there. The weather was beautiful and I was lucky enough to have a couple of hours to myself. Last time I was there I was so jet lagged that I got a whopping 30 minutes in the Van Gogh museum. This time I got there in the morning and spent about 2.5 hours wandering and admiring his art.

Shopping Mall?Obligatory Tourist PhotoHotel Sint Nicholas

Also, there was a street fair happening in one of the city squares (I believe it’s called Waterloosplain but I am probably wrong.) It was really fun, not because it was big or because I paid 3EU to rinde rides, it was fun because all the music was old 70’s tunes that had been re-mixed into techno dance tunes. One part of the fair was this wheel on the long arm of a pendulum that would swing back and forth as the wheel rotated. People sat in the wheel. This thin had to come within 20 feed of the Madam Tussauds building and at it’s apogee lined up with the big glass window on the 4th (?) from of Madam Tussauds.

Dinner With Friends

Monday evening Ivo Jansch, CTO of Ibuildings stopped by the hotel and picked my up for dinner.
Me and my PHP Homies!
Ivo and I joined Stefan Koopmanschap, Michelangelo van Dam and Remi Woler for dinner and drinks (and one fine Cuban Cigar provided by Michelangelo, dude, seriously, you rock!) It was great catching up with old friends and as one would expect from that group, the conversation never strayed far from PHP. We ate and drank way to late. Remi blogged about dinner here and posted a picture that Stefan took.



Tuesday morning, the day of the conference, came way too early after a late night with friends. Lucky for me, the conference was in the afternoon and evening. Ivo Jansch, CTO of Ibuildings, drove me out into the beautiful Holland countryside to a great hotel where the conference was being held. There I met 70+ people, both management and developers, all gathered to talk about PHP.

To be honest, I did not pay attention to any of the sessions; in my defense, they were all in Dutch. I did, however, manage to catch a few of the phrases like “Zend Platform” and “Zend Studio” and eventually figured out that “Pey-Ah-Pey” meant PHP. My cue to start paying attention was when the host for the day started speaking in English. At that point, I was pretty sure it was for my benefit only.

My Presentation

Presenting my session was fun, ok it was fun for me; I hope it was fun for the audience. The slides can be found on SlideShare, it’s my slideshow called Gardeners, Not Gate Keepers but honestly, there are only 14 of them including the vanity slide and if you weren’t there for the conference, they won’t make much sense. I talked about the fact that thanks to things like RIAs, Mashups, APIs and cool tools like IBM’s Mashup Hub (built on “Zend Framework”: and WS02’s Mashup Server, our roles in IT were changing. We no longer need to be the Gate keepers to the infrastructure but we need to be gardeners of the application. We need to provide the tools for our users and let them participate in the building of the application. (In retrospect, Groundskeepers might have been a better analogy) Anyhow, I tortured the analogy for 45 minutes before it was all over. As I told the audience, my presentation wasn’t a “Do this or else” type of presentation but more of an “Here’s an idea I have, see if you can use some of it where you are” presentation.

The audience was great for the session and afterwards I was asked several good questions and had some great discussions about the session and PHP in general while eating dinner.

One question asked in the evening session was:

“Why would I want to allow users to build mashups inside my application? Won’t I just be creating a mess of single use applications that I then have to mantain?”

My answer to this is, yes, of course you will. However, no more so than you are doing now. It’s really a mindset change. By (as someone put it on twitter today) supplying them with the rakes and showing them how to use them, we are encouraging users to help take control and responsibility for the application. You have to see the whole show to really grasp it because I am certinly not advocating allowing anyone and everyone to start tinkering with code.

This is my current presentation and I’m available for Business Seminars, users groups, kids parties and weddings, so drop me a line if you’d like to talk about me coming to your meeting.

Following dinner, we changed audiences and went at it again. At this point I need to say a big thank you to my friends at Ibuildings for bringing me a RedBull. I’m pretty sure I would not have made it through the second session with out it. (As it was, I managed to shave 10 minutes off my best time with it.) The evening’s audience was almost all developers, the majority of them from Sorgeti and Ibuildings but there were a few from other companies that snuck in for the fun. Peter C. Verhage and Robert van der Linde from Ibuildings and Sogeti respectively both reprised their sessions as did I. I’ll have to say, I had a lot more fun in the evening talking only to developers.


All in all, it was a great, but all-too-short conference. With only 1/2 a day and a hand full of breaks, there was no way I could meet everyone. The people I did meet were all great and I hope to run into them online to continue the friendships that were formed. I would like to say a special thanks again to both Ibuildings and Sogeti for putting forth the effort to put on a conference like this. As PHP’s popularity grows, it’s good for managers to know that companies like Ibuildings, Sogeti, and of course Zend, are there to help them.

So, as my tradition, as the sun was slowly making it’s way across the sky, I mounted my mighty steed of steel donned the battered fedora and headed off to the next conference. (Actually headed back home to recuperate before my road trip to php|tek…but that’s another story!)