This year, in addition to being sponsors of the 14th annual PHP UK Conference – held at The Brewery in London and enjoyed by over 700 attendees – Fasthosts sent several members of development team 'Heart of Gold' to find out about new approaches to architectures, pick up useful and inspiring tips, and network with other developers. These were their conference highlights:

Mark O’Hare, Developer, Team HoG:

‘Massively Scaled High Performance Web Services with PHP’ was a great session. This demonstrated where a system was used for a mobile phone app with 1M+ daily users holding over 1 billion designs large numbers! It’s all written in PHP, and they manage to handle 1600 API requests per second with an average response time of under 60ms. The talk focused on some of the techniques they used to achieve this level of scalability and responsiveness.

'Microservices Gone Wrongwas interesting, not only for the dog pictures. It provided a detailed journey through why they had to build a new system and not just fix an existing one. They showed the architecture for the new system (and what they got right and wrong), the challenges faced during development, deployment and subsequent enhancement of the system, along with lessons learnt, the best being "it’s too easy to create a system so complicated that you can't understand it!" I liked the talk because it oozed sound advice gained from real hands-on experience with a sizable system.

'MySQL 8.0 - Not Only Good It's Great & MyHybrid Databases: How De-normalizing Your Data With JSON Can Boost Query Performance': MySQL is one of the most popular open-source databases and it's free. Version 8 is the latest so it was good to hear about new features contained in the database.

JSON (JavaScript Object Notation) is a format used for encoding data values in a string. It’s widely used for holding unstructured data. It's become very popular as the format used to transmit data for APIs, due to the pervasive use of JavaScript in the browser and its simplicity. MySQL previously only supported structured data compatible with SQL. It can be very time-consuming to describe all the variants needed to hold the data for a system in a structured way.

This difficulty has given rise to some alternative databases described as NoSQL (e.g. CouchDB, MongoDB). By adding native JSON support MySQL is allowing a hybrid approach  the ability to use structured data when you need ultimate performance and scalability, plus the option to use unstructured data (JSON) when you need the simplicity and flexibility of storage.

Tom Turton, Developer, Team HoG:

The ‘DDD’ talk (or ‘Domain Driven Design’ to the uninitiated) was the one I was most looking forward to. It's about how to best realise the client's requirements, by asking the right questions and mapping how the requirements link together. This was a two-hour practical tutorial where we were split into teams and had to work together to plan a project based on a spec and written interviews with the clients and users. It was very informative! I found it engaging, and the tutors were excellent.

Francisco Barros, Developer, Team HoG:

The PHP conference this year was really good because they had a mix of topics on the different talks. This not only made the conference really interesting, but also really rewarding, as we were getting knowledge about many different topics during the two days. The food was also good but the highlight, in my opinion, was the ‘mini games’ session after the first day of talks that helped relax and entertain the attendees before dinner.

As a dedicated supporter of PHP, Fasthosts offers cloud hosting that's fully optimised for PHP 7.3. Find out more about the Fasthosts cloud hosting platform.