Six things we learnt at IPC 2013

Last week, we zipped over to Berlin to attend International PHP Conference! Run by our German sibling, PHP Magazin, IPC was full of interesting speakers dispensing useful tidbits. Here’s a rundown of just a few we picked up:

1. LNMP is the new LAMP
All three members of thePHP.cc, who write a monthly column for Web & PHP Mag, were out in full force at IPC, giving multiple talks on a wide range of topics. Arne Blankets gave a brilliant talk on “LAMP for 2013”, explaining how swapping out the traditional Apache server for Nginx can provide massive performance improvements.

2. Japan’s mobile internet is super advanced
Taking place alongside IPC was Webinale, which shared an English-language keynote from Marco Koeder. Marco has spent a decade working on mobile technologies in Japan, where 64% of internet access is done via a mobile device and mobile-optimised games are raking in $500,000 per month. Japan’s “mobile internet” has existed for 12 years, much of it through old feature phones – which Marco said was because of a focus on “simple, but intelligent solutions”.

3. Offline support is still a minefield
Even in 2013, it seems some of HTML5’s most promising features aren’t quite yet ready for prime time. In his talk, Stephan Hochdörfer went through developers’ current options – app cache, web storage, Web SQL Database, IndexedDB, File API and the Hoodie framework – but none are perfect , either containing tricky gotchas or lacking widespread compatibility. Depressing stuff.

4. ‘Humongous’ tests exist
In another thePHP.cc talk, Sebastian Bergmann showed off a pyramid of test sizes – “small”, isolated tests at the bottom, and “large” system-wide tests at the top. The very peak of the pyramid was missing, though: reserved for “humungous” tests that require entire data centers and run for months.

5. XML still has its uses
eXtensible Markup Language may no longer be the new hotness, but David Zuelke isn’t convinced by newer data formats. According to Zuelke, HTML5 has “completely idiotic stuff”, JSON is inflexible and fails as a query language, and YAML should never have been used for anything other than config files. In conclusion? XML ain’t dead yet.

6. Cuddly toys use MySQL
The most unique session of IPC? Ulf Wendel’s packed talk on incorporating ‘NoSQL’ aspects into MySQL. He enlisted the help of several hand puppets to tell the story of MySQL dolphin Sakila, who is driven to the edge by her dwindling popularity. Thankfully, the tale ends happily as Sakila’s friends add a key-value store to MySQL – which, according to Oracle developer Wendel, makes her popular again.

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