PHP UK Conference 2014 - Factor 3

PHP UK Conference 2014

  • A photo from the PHP UK Conference 2014

On Saturday I was lucky enough to attend the PHP UK Conference 2014. It is an annual event organized by PHP London and held at an amazing venue known as “The Brewery”. This event boasts two days of amazing talks, great socials and the most up to date information and training on PHP. It’s a great event to learn best practice and to share thoughts with other like minded developers.

“The future of PHP is in the clouds”

By Glen Campbell

It began with keynote speaker Glen Campbell, who introduced us to the conference and provided a summary of PHP’s history.

PHP started out as a simple scripting language for embedding dynamic data in HTML pages. He explained how PHP has changed, becoming (according to some) a general purpose language.

Although the language has matured, the underlying infrastructure has, in large, remained fairly static. For that reason, the growth of cloud computing will be a perfect opportunity to build applications that are distributed, scalable, and capable of handling massive amounts of traffic.

Click to view other developer’s ratings and comments about this talk.

“PHP Under the Hood”

By Davey Shafik

The next talk I attended at the PHP UK Conference was given by Davey Shafik. He spoke about the importance of understanding PHP “Under the hood” in order to improve the performance of our Apps since the introduction of opcodes and C-level variables (zval).

If we can truly understand how the language works, we’ll be able to improve the code that we create.

Click to view other developer’s ratings and comments about this talk.

“Profiling PHP Apps”

By Bastian Hoffmann

The other performance talk at the PHP UK Conference was about profiling PHP Apps.

Bastian spoke about the importance of speed when using a PHP application, he said “Only a few hundred milliseconds may lie between a user leaving your site or staying”. Therefore we must monitor the performance and the different variables that exist. If it works for you it does not mean it will work for others.

Some tools that help you monitor this are Xdebug, XHProf and the Symfony Debug Toolbar.

Finally, he introduced us to some tricks, techniques and patterns to further decrease load times. Some of these tricks and techniques were: Compressions; CDNs; DB Indexes; cache techniques; SPDY; minimize redirects; DNS prefetch; flush content; and Bigpipe.

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“I’ve been hacked, Now what?”

By Beth Tucker Long

I found this one of the most interesting talks at the PHP UK Conference.

She told us what to do when a hacker has penetrated the security of our servers, what the hacker might have left behind (find -ctime, don’t rely on ls -la please!), how to seal up the most common problem areas (unused themes and plugin folders), and how to set up notifications to help you spot a hack more quickly in the future (cronjobs to keywords).

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“Web Security and You”

By Eli White

The next talk was about security too. This time Eli White reviewed the most common attacks to Apps made with PHP beginning with programming errors, such as unchecked permissions, url-hack and low security hashes (don’t use MD5!). And the more common attacks nowadays which are XSS, CSRF, Session Hijacking, SQL Injection and one that is becoming very popular: the clickjacking (a malicious technique of tricking a web user into clicking on something different to what the user perceives they are clicking on, thus potentially revealing confidential information or taking control of their computer while clicking on seemingly innocuous web pages).

View Eli’s presentation here.

“Building Scalable PHP Apps”

By Mandy Waite and Ian Barber from Google

The PHP UK Conference finished off with a talk by Mandy Waite and Ian Barber from Google. They showed us how to use the Google App Engine to program our PHP Apps. The Google App Engine allows you to build web applications on the same, scalable systems that power Google’s applications.

A photo from the "Building Scalable PHP Apps" talk given by Mandy Waite and Ian Barber from Google.

Click to view other developer’s ratings, comments and the slides from this talk.

My summary of the PHP UK Conference 2014

  1. Keep an eye on the performance of your PHP applications. Even if it works properly for you it does not mean that it will work for everyone. Use profiling techniques to control all variables.
  2. Understand how PHP works with its opcodes and variables, this will help improve the performance of your code.
  3. Finally, put enough time and interest into the security of your applications so that a bored kid at school can’t ruin your servers. Make cronjobs to find infected files and keep your servers up to date, as your server could be infected and you may not even know about it.

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