Reflections on Being Part of the PHP Community

Reflections on Being Part of the PHP Community November 26th, 2015, by Matthew Setter

Despite being developing with PHP since a chance encounter in 1999, I’ve only recently gotten myself involved in the community. So here’s a reflection on what’s changed since getting involved.

I’m sitting here in lower Manhattan, feeling rather tired after spending 2 days walking around here, there, and everywhere; right from Battery Park in the South to almost Central Park in mid or upper Manhattan.

So what do you do when you’re sacking out, with time on your hands, and a laptop? Well write of course! Ok, I could code, but writing feels like the better choice. I originally came over this side of the pond to speak, for the first time, at PHP World in Washington DC.

It was a wonderful time, where I found that all my time invested at Toastmasters has paid off, helping me be better focused, better organised, and also keep my nerves in check.

It was also wonderful to meet so many people I’ve only known via Twitter, Facebook, Google Hangouts, IRC, and email.

And these aren’t people I’ve known for only a few months or so. Some of these friendships go back at least 4 - 5 years, some even longer. So on a number of proverbial levels, it was a wonderful opportunity.

We talked, shared drinks, even went exploring together in Washington after the conference was over. And it was during that time that I got to thinking, again, about all of the years where I wasn’t involved in the community, either at all, or to the extent that I am today.

In some ways it’s hard to believe that I lived that way. I can understand it though, or at least the reasons for it. I was a timid, nervous, introvert back then. If you know me today, it might seem hard to believe. But I was. Honestly.

Lack of Involvement = Lack of Growth

I can make a direct correlation between the lack of growth made in those years, and the lack of involvement in the community.

Conversely, I can make a direct correlation between the dramatic growth I’ve made in the years since I’ve been involved, and began actively participating.

Whether that’s participating by blogging at Master Zend Framework, going to conferences, chatting with fellow developers online, or now as a conference speaker.

Without all of this involvement, I’m confident I’d either have moved on to something else, or be whiling away in effective obscurity.

Not that fame really has much to do with tech. But knowing people and being known by them helps a lot when you’re stuck with a technical challenge.

And who isn’t stuck from time to time - despite or in spite of how brilliant and gifted you are.

So What Has Changed?

Well, first there’s been the writing and blogging, whether here, on Master Zend Framework, or for a range of sites, including PHP Architect, SitePoint, Codeship, Parallels, Conetix, as well as a number of other great sites.

There’s been the many great conferences I’ve been to, including PHP World, PHP UK Conference, and PHP South Coast.

I’m not planning to go to PHP UK Conference in 2016, but PHP South Coast just might be on the list. How can you go past Portsmouth? It’s a beautiful city.

Then there’s the conversations online as well. I’ve met so many wonderful people, people who I call friends, people who’ve shown me there’s better, more effective ways to develop, and to handle problems which invariably come.

They’ve shown me that the ecosystem is far, far richer, more diverse, more interesting, than just code. Some may say that’s heresy - but it’s not.

Code, software development, or programming, no matter what you call it, is an amazing craft, one which can pay you back a thousand times over.

But it’s not the only part of the puzzle. There are so many more aspects to it; aspects which can grow you as a person far beyond what you ever expected.

If you’re not, get out there and get involved in the community. No matter how small. No matter how large. You’ll be surprised at just how many people are there, people who will help you grow and become far more than you ever anticipated.

Over To You

Do you agree with me? Yes/No? Share your experience and thoughts in the comments.

CC Image (background of main image) Courtesy of Michael Himbeault on Flickr


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