Wrap up of WebDev '07

Author's note: I started writing this the Thursday after the summit and just haven't had a chance to sit down and finish the whole thing yet. I haven't edited it to make the time line be coherent, so that might throw you.

I'm back in Lawrence now. Blogging was light at this summit because I just didn't get into it - the blogging that was. Monday morning was the company wide Q3 meeting that I was attending remotely, so my attention was divided the entire morning. By the time lunch was over and the speakers started back up, my mind was fried, so I decided not to do a blow-by-blow.

In attendance were all of the usual suspects, sort of like a Ramblecast reunion. In retrospect, it was odd that no one from Zend was there though.

A lot of the talks covered some of the same ground that was covered at MTS earlier in the year. IIS7 still looks good, but I'm not ditching my Linux servers for it. The PowerShell presentation was good. I picked up a bit more about it this time and there were a few of the devs available to answer questions about it. The one issue I have with PowerShell is that you can't swap out the scripting language that it uses to get the grammar of Python or Ruby via IronPython/Ruby. At least yet. It's apparently coded in such a way that it would be possible with some tweaking, but that tweaking isn't on the agenda.

There was a lot of talk of Expression and Silverlight. Expression was presented to the wrong PHP crowd at this meeting. Most of the folks there might switch to a Visual Studio if it was up to spec, but Expression would be a step back in terms of functionality. For the casual coder though who's just interested in making their WordPress blog look pretty, Expression would probably fit the bill. Silverlight wasn't of interest to me just because I don't really use Flash (its main competitor). The technology looked cool, but just not something that I'll be reaching for anytime soon as I don't have a need for it.

They did some attendee presentations. I asked the guys at Gallery on a few things, one of which was integration with Amazon S3 for image storing. It's been requested and is in the list of a few hundred feature requests to get implemented. Just another reason to get Domain51_Service_Amazon_S3 wrapped up (I swear, a few days with nothing else to do and its done).

I also asked them for their thoughts on using the PEAR Installer instead of rolling their own remote plug-in system since their current system doesn't allow for plug-in channels. They were open to it, but cautious and for good reason. They would be giving up control of something that's pretty integral to the security of their system. One slip up in the installer and the whole system could be toast. I pointed them to MyBlog, but it's not the most elegant example and only conveys its power to Greg, myself, and maybe a half dozen other people. I'm going to have to write up an example of fully embedding the PEAR Installer within a distributable (as in unzip and go) app to show people.

Also interesting is Liz Smith's work on Win::UI which will make the entire win32api available inside PHP. Why someone would want to do that is beyond me, but it's still cool to see PHP starting to move toward possible use in real apps for rapid prototyping.

Back to the MS presentations, the presentation of John Bocharov - manager of the ext/sqlsrv project - was interesting. Microsoft is creating an SQL Server extension for PHP that will actually be fast. The only problem with it currently is that it runs only on Windows. The implementation is apparently just based on a ODBC connection, so I'm not sure what the hold up to getting it to *nix platforms is, but I and several other people said that the gold standard isn't creating extensions for PHP, it's creating extensions for PHP that work everywhere.

All in all, it was a good summit. The best part was the one on one "sessions" while waiting on another presentation or Monday evening (even though the Tap House was a bit cramped). Those tend to veer off in to more interesting territory. Just the fact that one person is standing behind a podium or wearing a microphone or simply controlling the projector makes the conversation feel one way. That said, all of the presenters were eager to engage anyone with questions, either during the presentation or afterward. They are trying.

Coming away from this summit, my opinion of MS hasn't changed. I had a neutral opinion of them going in and I still have it. I'm personally going to need more incentive to change than a few days of hearing about all the new glittery projects. Although, there was apparently some vodka-flavored kool-aid that I missed out on. Had I got mixed up in that, my opinions might be different. :-)