A legend is born: PHP Unconference Europe, Majorca. Nearly one hundred witnesses exist. The #phpuceu combines the proven concept of an unconference with the beauty of the island of majorca. Within a day after the end of the event, one third had bought a ticket for next years issue (May 9-10, 2015)! We all knew for years, unconferences work. We finally have one at a place that is easy to get and is just about perfect for any kind of visitor. Goal accomplished. Just a detail, PHP (partner happieness program) was missing…
The power of the people
Unconferences give power to the people. Participants gather in the morning to propose sessions and vote on an agenda for the day. Sponsors and participants never know what road will be taken. However, with a solid number of PHP experts and frequent speakers traditionally being around, the worst that can happen is that they are asked to repeat one of their usual talks… I have visited some ten PHP Unconferences in the past years. Usually, heavy-weights sometimes have issues to get enough votes for a slot because the other propsals are so hot! Also, Some of this years sessions…
- Scrum and other project management techniques – what really works (@janosch007)
- PHP-CPP – writing PHP extensions with C++ (@EmielBruijntjes)
- Best practices to get PHP into the Cloud – scaling, sessions, … (@3oris and ?)
- Code review – best practice discussion (@FrankS)
- TDD is bad, and dead ?! (@blafasel42)
- Decentralize all the things? (@koredn and @ThomasWeinert[?])
- Small objects do have business value (@spriebsch)
- PHP 5.6 (@phperror)
What kind of session is again up to the audience! Johannes Schlueters got it right and gathered with followers in the lobby area when no room was available. Kristian Koehntopp tortuered listeners with a spontaneous drawing on a tissue how to get benchmarking right… Long, long breaks for discussions and a need to become active are part of the game.
The soft factor: majorca – it’s not expensive
I must say, I am surprised how well the visitors behaved. The no-show rate on the first day was as little as three percent. This is absolutely amazing. Recall that a flight to Palma can cost you no more than a train trip through your country. Round trip flights to many destinations are around 150-200 Euros. A train ticket from Kiel in the north of Germany, where I live, to Munich in the very south and back is 210-280 Euros. And, #phpuceu sponsor trivago reports 210 euros for a single room over the weekend in Munich, which is an exact match for Palma.
At the same costs of the national PHP Unconference Hamburg, I get a weekend vacation in the sun! Still, people showed up on early Sunday morning with a smile in their face. They knew yummy catering (tapas) was on the agenda for lunch.
If everbody is relaxed, discussion go smoother. And, exchanging ideas, getting connected is all what it is about: whether you wanted to bother us MySQL folks, ask Zend about the green jumbo elePHPant, hack PHP or squeeze out long term project management consultans… all up to you. Or, how about table soccer to break the ice.
The smile factor: food, sun and partying
Compared with a national unconference, say one in Munich, Palma has more party locations and better drinks to offer. The 1 litre beer monster, which goes stale before it reaches you in an huge umpfda-umpfada hall is available. If you really want that… see the photo.
But then, there is also the other world of smaller restaurants too with the usual Twitter or Facebook comment going like: “Relaxing after the #PHPucEU” or “Nachklang zur #phpuceu an klasse Essen und Wein”, or this one http://click-to-read-mo.re/p/7dr8/5321aee8… The fine dining or the simple yet tasty local food, the vacation feeling, the beaches, the old town…
… hiking in the hills, cycling or riding a scooter. Quite some decided it would be a good idea to stay a day longer for some nice time on the island in late spring. This has a very positive effect on the unconference itself. There is less of a rush on sunday. People stay for an additional night and the last session of the day is almost as popular as the first one was.
The trained elePHPant
On the first day the organizers (Judith Andresen, Fabian Blechschmidt, Jonathan Maron, Karl Spies) announced a photo competition. Zend had given them one of the big green elePHPants for the winner. The task was to take a photo of the elePHPant going on safari during the event. The winning photo is…
… and the winner got a hug from one of the organizers, after the latter had stopped biting the elePHPant! Something that obviously has irritated the new shepard of the elePHPant.
My own elePHPants, well prepared and trained for the trip, became friends with him. However, I think, the big one is not quite such a sports gun as the smaller ones are.
PHP – Partner happieness program
This was a wonderful event: work and fun combined! Despite the fun, everybody needs measurable results to justify their investments. Search Twitter, Facebook, Google+ or blog posts for opinions, if you have not participated and want to know if all was green – not just the elePHPant.
Of course, sponsors do the same. For sponsors it is not all about getting a new hire or immediately winning a big customer. These events have a lot to do with learning what really matters to the crowd. It is about reaching out to key people that can act as multiplicators. And, it is about fostering the community. Obviously, many sponsors have been very pleased with this years results. AFAIK, some announced their strong interest to come back in 2015, or even gave firm promises. Let’s shout THANK YOU at:
PHP is missing! Spouses and family welcome !?
For next year, it would be perfect if there was a partner happieness program – short PHP. Ideally, it would be run as an unconference. All spouses gather in the morning to propose something and vote about their plans for the day. I would be fine with that as long as they don’t start stealing sponsors, or do photo contests about the best looking new potential partner or the like….
Again, 200 reasons to go there…