CICONF - Mission Complete

Another trip to the States and another CodeIgniter Conference complete. This is a quick roundup for anyone who didn't make it to the conference this year.

This year the low-to-middle budget CodeIgniter Conference was held in San Francisco in a brilliant co-working space called Citizen Space. I didn’t know at the time but this space is actually a partner of New Work City, the venue for CICON2011, so it was great to “keep it in the family”.

Co-working spaces are generally pretty reliable for conferences as you already know they have some decent network connections, they have all the gadgets you’ll ever need and they don’t put stupid restrictions on being able to bring food into the building unlike CICONF 2012 UK where I ended up paying through the nose for some REALLY crap sandwiches.

This year we had some great speakers:

I kicked things off with a CodeIgniter 3.0 run-down. I had hoped we’d be able to announce the launch of CodeIgniter 3.0 at the event but the PDO DB Forge drivers still need a little work and the new user-guide is still waiting on the design work (I hear its about a week off) so that slipped, and my talk just had to be about what new features were in there. It was fairly short, but I ended up spending the whole preceding week in SF running around like a madman trying to sort out the hotel’s f**k-ups instead of having any time to prepare. Wonderful.

Another problem we suffered was Tyler sadly having a scheduling conflict at the very last minute, meaning he could not make it to the site. I managed to just about get him up on Skype but this was the most difficult part of the whole damn conference as technically stuff just wasn’t working! We ordered people to browse to http://presentations.pagodabox.com/ to use some event-driven slide share system, where the screen would change as Tyler moved through the slides. That sadly didn’t seem to work with 60 people hitting it, so we ditched that and put slides up on the screen with Tyler in a small window. That still didn’t work as video was chewing bandwidth, so we switched to Skype and THAT had some duplexing problems, so in the end I had to sit on the damn floor sliding the microphone volume up to ask questions and back down to let him talk. Mess.

The result was that Tyler was blind and deaf, battling to give a talk to the crowd but it took so long to get through the background and covering what Pagoda Box is, the awesome tech parts were rushed. It was unfortunate because Tyler is a GREAT speaker!

The rest of the day was a fair bit easier. Kenny spoke about how to use Chef to rule the world, Erik covered using Gearman to create Work Queues (I loved this, you really should be using work queues more than you do), and John gave a talk about how everything you’ve ever known about anything to do with performance is wrong, even covering CSS selectors!

We hit a bar called Jillians, stuffed our faces on food and drink (thanks to all our sponsors, especially eecoder and Mindfulware) and played some pool. It was a good night until they kicked us out of the room at 9 oclock for the sake of it, even though nobody else was going in there. Meh.

Day 2 got off to a start with Ben Edmunds covering RESTful API’s using my REST server, and sneaking in a few photographs of my from Facebook where I mistakenly tried growing a mustache. It didn’t work, and I walk in from ordering everyone pizza to see the entire conference laughing at me. THANKS BEN!

Jerel Unruh from the PyroCMS team then hopped up to the stage to show off some cool new PyroCMS features, especially on the PyroCMS Hosting side of things.

The supremely laid-back Calvin Froedge gave his second CICONF talk this year, covering some extremely complicated coding practises and OOP design patterns in a very simple way. He essentially read a LOT of books on the subject, digested it all and gave us back what we needed, along with the required reading list with the time-wasters rejected. This was a great talk and probably gave us all something to think about, especially as we start to move towards writing auto-loaded PSR code and not just single-class CodeIgniter libraries.

Following Calvin was Chris Miller from the Huffington Post - who is an absolute legend. We had a few speakers drop out just before the event, but Chris - an attendee - with about a weeks notice just offered to pull a talk out of thin air and gave one of the best talks, on using Varnish to cache the f**k out of your website. That site is 87th most visited site in the world, and is the 3rd most popular news site, so it was damn good to get a talk on scalability from him.

Finishing up was the slightly nervous Adam Jackett, who was giving his first talk but still nailed it. He was essentially talking about how he increases his productivity when using CodeIgniter, with tools like HMVC, Base Controllers, Migrations, etc - not always showing BEST practises, but showing how to get things done quickly. It was a good talk which ended a little quickly, but we all just went to get beer 30 minutes ahead of time so nobody minded.

It turned out to be a great conference with lots being learned. We had a few less than the last two events, but it meant for a way more casual experience and people still got what they wanted from the conference.

For more coverage please follow the conference on Lanyrd. I’ve got all the slides up and most of the videos are already online. I didn’t manage to get all of the talks recorded (seriously, it was a one-man show and I was running around like a lunatic, so I just plain forgot to record some) but we have Calvin, John, Ben, Adam and Chris recorded who all gave great talks.

This will be the last conference I run for a long time, and it’s definitely the end of CICONF for me. If somebody is looking to take it over they are welcome to get in touch, but with me just starting a new full-time job and no longer requiring CodeIgniter for that my usage of the framework as well as my time for running conferences are all running pretty low. It’s all about priorities and my just changed quite substantially.

I’ve enjoyed the challenges involved with running conferences, and I’m glad I took it over from the previous owners as the Bristol event - which I was only meant to be helping get speakers and sponsors to - sucked. Taking it from a mess to a successful 100+ attendee conference twice (and getting 60ish to SF against all odds and a huge number of problems) has been an awesome road, and the events have always been fun on the day, but I certainly won’t miss the stress.

A massive thank you once again to all of the sponsors, everyone who attended and a massive thank you to everyone who helped in any way. You know who you are!