010php Meetup June 8th

Last week I attended the 010PHP Meetup for June 8th, with two talks: Review unknown code with static analysis by Damien Seguy, a talk he will continue to refine and give at the Dutch PHP Conference at the end of this month. The other talk was GraphQL is right in front of us, let’s do it, with Symfony by Renato Mendes Figueiredo.

The meetup was hosted at Youwe in their brand new Rotterdam office in the middle of the city centre. Right off the bat the atmosphere was friendly, groups of devs catching up with each other with a beer in hand.

Notebooks for everyone!

I spent some time socialising with 010PHPers familiar and new. Since I was present at the very first handful of meetups and gave my own talk back in 2013 (called ‘Debugging for Distressed Developers‘), it was natural for me to get back in touch with my peers starting with 010PHP. It’s a friendly welcoming group of developers with good mix of veterans, mediors and students alike.

Coffee, beer, pizza, and talks: the average dev’s fuel

After most of the pizza had made its way to hungry developer stomachs, the first talk began.

Damien is an experienced speaker and he had no trouble getting the audience involved. He explained how static analysis is about reviewing the code with as little bias as possible, starting at the very basic level — what kind of PHP settings does this code use? Which extensions? — and slowly digging further into it, looking at dependencies, filenames, directory structure. The audience was frequently tested on their own analytic ability by being asked if we noticed anything unusual or something that told us more about the application.

Then we were introduced to a large number of PHP inspection and analysis tools, including Damien’s own Exakat software and PHPLint. What especially struck me were the graphs with the PHP version on the x-axis and number of errors on the y-axis that told us how a particular application may be maintained with regards to PHP version compatibility and that enterprise applications will often stay stuck before a major version change out of fear of breaking everything.

The version numbers also reminded me of PHP6 — in the sense that we jumped from 5 to 7 and we don’t talk about 6, much like we went from Windows 95 to XP and don’t talk about ME (even though XP has many of the features first released in ME). But, that aside.

After a short break, Renato continued with his talk on GraphQL. As someone who’s been out of the loop for a while, learning about new technologies has an extra layer of ‘I need to know this! Help!’ so of course I paid the utmost attention. 

“Help! I need to learn this new library right now or I’ll be completely obsolete!”
— Sasha Greif at So what’s this GraphQL thing I keep hearing about

GraphQL immediately struck me as a very elegant solution with clean, understandable syntax. It’s one of those technologies that makes you wonder, ‘where have you been all my life?’ Of course, it’s been around since 2015 and first developed by Facebook in 2012, but it’s quickly gaining even more traction. It sits between your application and all those other APIs out there, so you can just talk to GraphQL — and let your users talk to your GraphQL server — and it does the work for you. (Well, mostly. You have to write resolvers to deal with your input, but then you’re all good to go.) And as a total Star Wars fan, I appreciated the look of Renato’s presentation! He’s also giving this talk at DPC by the end of this month as well as submitting it to several conferences, so you may see it pop up in the future.

It was good to attend a meetup again and soak up some tech knowledge! I’m attending the Joy of Coding 2017 conference in Rotterdam by the end of this month, so be sure to check out my report on it as well.

It’s a blog!

My very own professional WordPress blog is here! As awkward as the first post of any blog is to write, I’ll give it a try.

I am Daniëlle Suurlant. I’ve been a web developer for nearly 15 years, and a computer geek for much longer. In this blog I’m going to talk about what I’m doing, learning and seeing as a developer. The real kicker is that I’ve been out of the loop for 3 years. You might imagine that if you take a long journey of self-discovery, fall into some bad luck along the way, and you finally come back to find your home covered in JavaScript frameworks — it’s a bit of a shock! Thankfully the old giants are still standing — I’m more than familiar with backend PHP, Symfony and .NET.

I’m in the smack dab middle of my job search and of course, this blog is an important part of that. I’m also getting my dev self back on track by attending usergroup meetings such as 010PHP and at the end of the month I’m attending Joy of Coding 2017. You’ll find write-ups of these events right here.

What is it like for a developer to walk back into their field of expertise after a long absence? Technology moves fast, and it’s certainly believed that if you don’t keep up, you get left behind. I plan to prove the contrary, showing that it doesn’t take much to reactivate over a decade of accumulated knowledge and skills. Let me show you the answer to that question and more.