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Laracon 2016

Metric Loop is bringing you all of the details and excitement from this year’s Laracon. In this post our Chief Software Engineer, Patrick Guevara, lays out his takeaways from the speakers, the event, and the people.

First Day

First, you had to get the coffee. Last year, Matt Stauffer found a really great local coffee shop called Sunergos and geeked out on it (I know this because I was following along on Twitter). This year, Taylor was able to swing it so that Sunergos served coffee for the first hour of each day.

Adam Wathan - Test Driven Laravel

And what better way is there to kick off a coding conference then by starting with tests? Adam Wathan showed his process for starting a new project from scratch with testing at the helm. The outside-in TDD loop makes it really approachable to get started testing your code from the very beginning. The idea of "programming with wishful thinking" was also a really good takeaway because it allows you to think like your customer and "cut across" your app to start testing.

Evan You - Make Development Great Again

Evan gave us a really great introduction to Vue 2.0 and a look into how the Vue magic actually works. For instance, when Evan started he asked how many people have used Vue. About 80% of the audience raised their hand. When he asked how many people understand the reactivity part, nobody raised their hand. He did a great job at demystifying it so that it's even more approachable.

Chris Fidao - Server Survival

Pretty dense talk about server permissions and security best practices. Chris uncovered some of the under-the-hood magic that goes into securing brand new servers that you might spin up yourself or on Digital Ocean (or some other provider). At every point he mentioned that Forge does the majority of these things when it's provisioning. Even if Forge does it all for us, it was extremely helpful to help remove the "hand-wavy" part of server administration.

Taylor Otwell - Laravel 5.3

The big one. Taylor gives us a deep dive on the newest features in Laravel 5.3. He started simply with folder structure and ended up creating an OAuth 2.0 server right on stage in just a few minutes. In the middle, he also showcased a little thing called Scout which enables Eloquent models to get indexed for full text search in Algolia, Elasticsearch or some other provider. The notable thing about this release is that it feels like OS X Snow Leopard. Sure, there are new features, but most are optional and the bulk of the work is under-the-hood security and performance improvements. With the inclusion of Echo, which Taylor did not get a chance to cover, Laravel 5.3 feels like a truly modern framework to build modern apps.

After Hours

A really cool thing to note about the conference and Laravel in general is the people. The community is seriously one of the best things about this framework. The people involved are genuinely some of the nicest people I've ever met. Everybody gives you the time of day and nobody scoffs at your skill level. There's a great sense of "the greater good" and many focus their efforts on raising the bar of the open source software.

For example, when I left the conference I bumped into a guy, Dave, whom I've never met and we started walking and talking back to the hotel. It was around dinner time and so we decided on a whim to grab a bite to eat and just hang out. Two hours later and we've talked about how we got started in web development, things that we're looking forward to, and even politics (Dave is Canadian so it's mostly entertainment for him but he had similar sentiments and really great insight)!

But that's the thing. This conference just feels like 500 friends got together and decided to spend a few days in Louisville.

Second Day

Again, Sunergos.

Evan You - Vue Router / Vuex

Here, Evan talked about how to build really fantastic single page apps with Vue. He starts off describing how hard it is to build a good SPA because of SEO, deep-linking, and navigating with URLs. And then, like a great salesman, he showed us how vue-router handles most of those things with ease. I am all for the Laravue power couple.

Jack McDade - Wizards, Lawnmowers, Hovercraft

The first (only?) "soft" talk. Jack talked all about Creativity as a resource, Perspective as either a motivator for change or a hindrance that makes one gullible, and how these two things come together to affect People, Process, and Product. In the end, be kind, tell the truth, and look for new perspectives. I found it to be a really intriguing talk that covered a lot of the stuff that informs the culture you might encounter in a 9-5 day job.

Ben Ramsey - Long Live HTTP/2

Ben gave a quick oral history of HTTP/1.1 (lots of RFCs!) and how we got to HTTP/2 (even more RFCs!). He went over the differences in the two specs and how it's going to affect web development in the next 5 years or so. The new spec really brings the protocol into modern territory but only includes small changes for web developers. Most of the changes are how servers talk to clients and vice versa. But there are a few things that we can do to propel our apps forward.

Zeev Suraski - PHP 7

Zeev walked through the history of PHP starting with how he basically rewrote its predecessor so that he could complete a college project. That's crazy town but it was really cool to see the evolution of the language up through PHP 7, the current version.

Amanda Folson - APIs with Lumen

Amanda took on the role of advocating for Lumen in a world of mostly Laravel developers. I was aware of Lumen beforehand, but never really did anything significant with the framework. What she made clear was that for certain use cases, a stripped down Laravel is more than sufficient to accomplish your task. Lumen is that stripped down version of Laravel. As microservices grow and various native apps begin to share backend APIs, I see Lumen taking off in a big way. One thing I would point out is how nicely Lumen and Vue fit together when creating applications. For instance, you can create your entire SPA in Vue and leverage Lumen's lightweight, API-first infrastructure. If Laravue doesn't happen, I'm looking forward to Vuemen.

Matthew Machuga - Tests Should Tell a Story

Matt gave a great talk about testing and its importance when we're crafting our applications. Whether we realize it or not, we write stories every day in our code. The important thing is that we tell a coherent story when we test. Matt takes a behavior-driven approach (BDD) which allows him to write out plot points in plain english and make the tests and their results very approachable and understandable.

Sandi Metz - Get a Whiff of This

I believe Sandi had the best talk of the conference. She's a natural teacher and was able to convey a topic that has, in my experience, has been relegated to purely academic endeavours. Sure, code smells are good to know but fixing them was always just theoretical. Sandi showed not only how to identify code smells but also how to use the curative recipes effectively. She even did it in Ruby! It was one of the most encouraging, practical, funny, and insightful talks I've had the privilege of listening to.

Closing Thoughts

Laracon has been a blast so far. I've met a ton of people and gotten the chance to talk shop and goof off in equal amounts. If you're not plugged into the community, I would suggest you start now. Everybody is incredibly nice and pretty responsive on Twitter. Just strike up a conversation!

Follow me and my company on twitter to find out how we're using Laravel and related tech to support small and medium size business!

Patrick Guevara's Profile Picture

Patrick Guevara

Chief Software Engineer

Patrick cofounded Metric Loop on the dream of building really great software with a clean, transparent approach. He lives in Austin, Texas with his wife Jess and their dog named Moose.