Laracon – impressions, memories, takeaways

In this blog post I will summarize my experience attending Laracon US 2014, the annual conference held for Laravel and PHP web developers in United States. I will share my expectations, most memorable moments, lots of photos and links from the conference.

Expectations

Laracon was my first web development conference. While I never attended a gathering of web developers numbering in a few hundred before, I had a few modest expectations going to the conference. What I wanted the most was to:

  • Meet people and share knowledge, struggles, experience
  • Listen to the experts in their respective areas of expertise (aka “Speakers”)
  • Have time dedicated to bonding with other developers

From my experience at Laracon, all of these expectations were met in abundance. I have yet to attend another group of people where I can relate so easily and find people with great ideas and great characters. Laracon was a great place to meet the vocal heroes in the community and also those who are not as vocal. What I found out is that everyone has something great to say, even those who don’t have thousands of followers on Twitter or books on Leanpub. I have met and talked to a few dozen of great people and enjoyed the conversations thoroughly. If I didn’t get to talk to you – I apologize and really wish you and I will get together one day.

The conference organizers – UserScape  and team – created the best Laracon experience to date. The live feed was definitely a big tool during the conference. The venue was amazing. The food and drinks were plenty. The schedule was close to perfect! While I haven’t attended previous Laracon, from the photos I’ve looked at, the videos I’ve seen, I can tell that this year was better than the previous one. Big props to Ian Landsman for pulling this off the way it went, I was impressed.

Every day of the conference was packed with great time and I couldn’t have asked for more.

Speakers

You can see the lineup of speakers here: conference.laravel.com. Their backgrounds vary a whole lot. From the creator of jQuery (John Resig) to programming veterans like Cal Evans, the conference consisted of 13 speakers having one talk each.

I have taken in the wisdom and the points that the speakers tried to convey. From at least two more ways of organizing large applications to problems and challenges of contributing to open source from the viewpoint of a business, I have learned many new things that will help me in my career as a developer.

Here are some of the photos of the speakers on stage, along with my Twitter annotations:

After the presentations I was able to talk to most of the speakers and of course take some pictures with them, for example:

Dayle Rees:

Taylor Otwell:

The main focus of Laracon in my opinion was Taylor’s keynote speech. He has done a great job bringing the community together, showing the direction that Laravel is going and inspiring web developers to build things faster. Here are some slides that summarized the new revelations or affirmed Laravel’s goals.

Breakdancing

A few months before the conference I promised Ian Landsman that if I attend the conference I WILL breakdance. If you know anything about my background, I used to be a professional breakdancer by night while attending a computer science program at a college. Right before the conference I have practiced my headspin at home:

At one moment during the conference there was a long pause between two presentations and somebody from the audience yelled out “Maks” when Ian was asking what should we do to fill the time. I was prepared and had my special breakdancing hat handy in the backpack. Without second-guessing myself I pulled it out, put it on my head and did a few moves, true to my nature:

And a video is available here:

Summary

The conference was a blast. While Laracon was my first conference of this scale, I think it will be hard to top it because in all aspects it was polished, had a great community and was very enjoyable. I would recommend buying the tickets very early next year and come for the next Laracon to be a part of this great event. By the way, if you live closer to Europe than to United States, there is Laracon EU that is just around the corner, August 28-30 in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Get your tickets here: http://laracon.eu/2014/.

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  • Larabro

    Dude. Your breakdancing was awesome!

  • maxsurguy

    This is a test

  • mlops

    Nice dancing… Maks.

  • maxsurguy

    Thanks! 🙂

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