PHPBenelux 2020 Review

31 Jan 2020 4-minute read

Another year, another PHPBenelux. This year, on the 24th and the 25th of January, it was the 11th edition.

The concept remained the same. On Friday morning we have the workshops. Friday afternoon and on Saturday there are 3 tracks, each with their own set of talks. Every evening the conference ends with a great social event with food, drinks, and laughs.


Each year PHPBenelux works with a different theme. This year the theme was the Wild West.

This means that they decorated the expo hall in this theme. Each sponsor went the extra mile and introduced some Wild West elements into their booth.

There were boots were you could shoot guns. A booth to throw horseshoes around iron poles. There was a “Snakes-in-a-hat” toss game. And last but not least a casino to play Blackjack.

Environment photo


Community, one of the keyword in PHP. It’s one of the main building blocks. This was hugely reflected at the conference.

Firstly, there was the sheriff boot. This boot was provided by the PHPBenelux conference to record a podcast. If I’m not mistaken at least 2 different podcasts recorded episodes to release.

Diversity is also a big part of the community. PHPBenelux goes the extra mile. Trying to get both a diverse line of speakers as well as a diverse crowd attending.
This year students and underrepresented groups got a special discount. Making sure everyone has a chance to attend this wonderful conference.
There was also a group photo taken. This photo represents all the female speakers and audience members attending the conference.

Recently we had some diversity issues in other conferences. PHPBenelux went the extra mile to make sure everyone feels part of the community.

Audience photo

My workshop

This year was extra special for me. I got selected to give a workshop at this year’s event. So I brought my User Experience Design 101 workshop.

I did spend quite some time on the format of the workshop, the exercises, and the slides. But I still was not pleased with the result. So I ended up making a little booklet for each participant to take home. This way they had all the info and some extras to review at home.

I also made sure the exercises were completely in the conference theme. The assignment the participants got was to build a wanted poster billboard application. Which gave some very funny results.

Impressive and memorable talks

Of course, with 3 tracks for 1,5 days you will get a lot of content. So I made a little summary of the talks that impressed me the most.

Handling Exceptional Conditions with Grace and Style - Nikola Poša

Error handling is an important part of any application. But it can also be one of the hardest parts to do.

As fate has it, we’re currently reviewing the way we are handling our errors. A lot of what Nikola gave as “bad” examples were methods we were currently using. One of those is the checking of null.

In this talk, Nikola gave some great, clear and practical code examples. At this moment we’re introducing some of those into our application.

Never* use arrays - Larry Garfield

Before this talk, I had no idea how much we use arrays. However, Larry showed us an awesome way to avoid using arrays cleanly.

Not only does it create more clear code. It will also give you a faster, more memory efficient alternative.

We’ll be looking into these cases soon and adjust our code.

Getting started with ReactPHP – Pushing real-time data to the browser - Christian Lück

ReactPHP, the original React as Christian points out, is a low-level library for event-driven programming in PHP.

Christian uses a nice mix of different examples. Showing us different use cases for ReactPHP. Even going as far as having a live chat server with the audience. Bold move!

ReactPHP is completely open-source, as expected. This means you can add to it and help maintain this great library. I’m at least going to give it a test.

A little side note. Christian also delivered a fun uncon talk about OSS development and project management.

Symfony 5, the new bits - Andreas Hucks

As someone who mostly works with the Symfony framework, this was a talk I could not miss. A grasp of all the new functionality coming to Symfony 5.

Well, all the items that are coming out of the experimental phase of course. Some of the more interesting stuff like the notifier component to send notifications. As well as the new String component that will allow for better manipulation of text.

Something to look forward to!

Speaker Photo


PHPBenelux is one of those conferences that go the extra mile. For their sponsors, their speakers and their audience.
I can only applaud this and hope other conferences go the same length.

I’ll be back next year, will I see you there?

PHPBenelux Jacket Photo

All images courtesy of Gabriel Somoza