Back in February, we attended the PHP UK Conference in London. A month on, we’re reflecting on our highlights and spilling the beans on some the interesting topics that grabbed our attention.

With hundreds of delegates, speakers, and sponsors, PHP UK is a fantastic conference for keeping up to date with PHP and related web technologies. Set in the heart of the City of London, the main conference event at The Brewery was spread over two days – split into two tracks.

With a busy schedule, we divided our efforts across the talks, and here are a few of our tops highlights from across the event:

Your software is mission critical

Mike Lehan did a great job as the opening keynote speaker – setting the mood and tempo of the days ahead. Whilst most of us may not be writing code that is literally ‘mission critical,’ when you take a step back, you realise that the code we write can be just as ‘critical’ to people in other ways. Moving fast and breaking things doesn't work if you're dealing with real people's real lives!

What's new in PHP 8.1 and 8.2?

Derick Rethans, as one of the important members of the PHP internals group, gave us an overview of the new features that were introduced in PHP 8.1 and 8.2. We had a look at how the type system is strengthened with Enumerations and “never”, Fibers, a new closure syntax, the First Class Callable Syntax, intersection and disjunctive normal form types, read-only classes, and other smaller features. There are lots of great new aspects for developers, as well as some “syntactic sugar” to make lives easier.

Git legit

Pauline Vos returned for an energetic lesson on Git. She made the case for atomic commits and how to use them while only minimally affecting your workflow. It was a fun talk, full of great examples – and taught us that a little change in habits can go a very long way. It’s certainly one to catch on YouTube.

Continuous integration: tips and tricks

If you’re not using Continuous Integration and Deployment (CI/CD), where have you been? Paul Dragoonis reached into his years of experience in consulting and development to share his tips and tricks from building top-quality CI pipelines for large organisations. If you’ve not used CI/CD before, this is the talk to whet your appetite.

Creating PHP extensions easily with C++

Creating a PHP extension has traditionally been very complex. You need to be very familiar with the PHP innards and follow a system of configurations using many obscure macros with little or no documentation. Carlos Granados shared with delegates the PHP-CPP library, which allows you to easily develop PHP extensions using C++, with this library taking care of all the ugly details. If you’ve been scared of writing extensions previously, take a look at this library to help ease you back in.

We built this city: the geographies of software development

A conference favourite, Naomi Gotts’ parallels between software development and urban geography were fascinating. As developers, we assume the responsibility of the planning, architecting, building, and maintaining our individual patches of cyberspace. Our codebases are the landscape of our virtual cities, and this landscape must be cared for. Naomi, a geography graduate-turned-software engineer, explored the parallels that exist between the built environment we inhabit and the virtual environment we are creating.

There was so much more, too… from the use of Docker in development, through Dependency Injection, to using PHP on hyperscalers. As always, the conference was a great, encouraging, and supportive space for developers (and Product Owners!) of all abilities.