ZendCon 2016 Recap

Written by: Phillip Jackson, Ecommerce Evangelist

When I saw the ZendCon 2016 speaker lineup, I was excited that my talk was accepted and proud to stand alongside some of the smartest people in the PHP community. There are few places where I can "nerd out" like I can at a PHP conference. I'm a developer at heart and many conferences cover business and merchant strategy and have me spending a good deal of time in the booth. Not to mention who doesn’t love another conference in Las Vegas.

Tuesday offered a rare opportunity for a Magento 2 tutorial session with Ben Marks, followed by MageTalk Episode 105 where I asked hard questions and he responded with frank answers.

My first talk of ZendCon 2016 was the bookend to my year-long series of talks on PCI Compliance. I gave the first version in 2015 at Meet Magento Spain. The topic is always well-received and my talk has evolved over the past 12 months. The audience was attentive including providing one memorable question: "at what point does testing and automation begin to pay for itself versus the compliance burden or audit costs.” Truthfully, I did not have an answer -- and that made my gears turn since it is an important topic both for SI’s and retailers. How can a business calculate the burden of compliance, and at what point does the burden of compliance outweigh the legal obligation?

One highlight of the conference was meeting PHP framework legend Taylor Otwell who spoke opposite me in the morning sessions. He is the creator of Laravel, one of the most popular modern PHP frameworks, and is a very witty and approachable guy.

On Wednesday I debuted my newest talk - Conversational Commerce: Breaking new ground on Magento 2, Alexa, Facebook and Slack. This talk represents how my deepest dive into Magento 2 had me spending many hours scratching my head. I also used a fair bit of Node.js in the process of coding up demos for Amazon Alexa and Facebook Messenger. The feedback was positive, with a few remarking how the technology isn't "there yet" - and I agree. We're probably 12-18 months away from truly intelligent Conversational Commerce. In the meantime smart agencies and retailers will begin dabbling with these products inside innovation labs while the market and consumer demand ramp up.

I caught two keynotes including Andi Gutmans, co-creator of PHP and co-founder of Zend Technologies. He talked about the current and future state of Zend as the keystone in the PHP community and corporate development arm of the open source PHP project. Zend was recently acquired by Rogue Wave software - so this was a pivotal moment to forecast stability and vision.

"Uncle Bob" Martin - a well-regarded author and speaker in programming methodology. Most notable of this session was his thoughts about architecture: the architecture of a system should aim to solve its intent. Meaning, it should solve the problem it was designed to solve. If it should be divorced from UX and UI it should still solve that problem. I think this thought is powerful and hints at the API-driven development that is beginning to be more prevalent in modern Web architecture.

A key takeaway from the conference is that Magento is a vital part of the PHP ecosystem and they plan to be active members in that community. This was the first PHP event sponsored by Magento, Inc. This comes on the heels of Magento addressing a major security vulnerability in the now-unsupported Zend Framework 1, which is integral to Magento 1 and now also Magento 2. Magento is becoming the de-facto agent of support for this unsupported product. According to Magento Community Evangelist Ben Marks we could see a lot more from Magento on this front in 2017.

I'll be submitting to ZendCon 2017. In the meantime you can see me at Sunshine PHP 2017 in Miami in February!

I hope to see you there!