Revisiting Laracon EU 2023
A few weeks ago I attended the Laracon EU in Lisbon, Portugal, which was a fantastic event on all accounts, especially due to the lack of in-person conferences in the past few years.
The event was very well organized, with a compelling venue and a very high quality speaker lineup. What I love most about conferences was very much present here as well: an open, welcoming community, with lots of mingling and networking. It was a great privilege to get to meet community members that I previously only followed on Twitter and elsewhere on the web.
All of the people I met at the conference were very interesting to talk to. I think I had the most interesting conversation with Povilas from Laravel Daily who creates content for Laravel developers, teaching them best practices and standards and how to do certain things with Laravel.
This is highly aligned with one of Agiledrop’s biggest goals for 2023 (which I wrote about recently here), namely, creating a high-level onboarding/training program for Laravel developers. So, whenever we hire a new PHP developer, whether they know Laravel or not, we can still have them go through this program and get familiar with all of the best practices and standards used in the Laravel community.
We are definitely going to be using his content as well because he really generates a lot of great content there, and I feel that this is going to be a great addition to our company's portfolio of learning resources. Hopefully, at one point, we can collaborate on something with him that can benefit the entire community.
Since I spent so much time in the common area, either working or networking, I didn’t manage to catch that many sessions, but the ones I did catch were excellent. Taylor Otwell’s keynote about Laravel 10 was definitely at the top. His way of presenting was very exciting and made the whole keynote feel like an event from Apple when they release a new iPhone, with the whole audience cheering and clapping. It was just the perfect way to get people even more enthusiastic and excited about the new release as well as boost the whole event up.
If I remember correctly, Taylor even mentioned in the Q&A session that he likes to keep certain features secret and then reveal them at conferences. So, he’s definitely doing it consciously, and I think it’s a great strategy which gives a ton of energy to the events.
In general, a lot of the sessions were heavily technical, with a lot of live coding/demoing; but there was a nice mix of non-technical sessions as well, with topics such as mental health and productivity, which I believe were also very valuable for the almost exclusively developer crowd there as well as for the community at large.
One of my favorite sessions was delivered by Aaron Francis who talked about how to do things that increase your surface area for luck. It should be a no-brainer, but sometimes that’s exactly what we need to hear: basically, if you don't do things, if you don't make your work public, you cannot really expect to have any kind of real result.
He showed this in action by describing the butterfly effect of his career, when he published an article, and then this article eventually led to him speaking on the stage. It was just a fantastic story.
Another very interesting element of the Laracon experience for me was how it compared with another open-source community that I’ve been involved with for a long time – Drupal (I’m pretty sure I annoyed at least a few people at the Laracon with these comparisons and explanations of how the Drupal community does things differently).
Both Drupal and Laravel are very open and welcoming to newcomers. I feel like the Laravel community is more technical, since I didn’t notice any of the business-oriented sessions which are a mainstay at DrupalCons.
Consequently, a lot of attendees of Drupal events are non-developer clients, e.g. marketing or business development people from certain companies who want to get to know the platform which they might use in the future. I don’t think this happens that often in Laravel due to the format and the technology itself.
Probably the biggest difference between Laravel and Drupal is in how they’re led. Drupal is very much run on the level of local communities, and just by the community as a whole. There are a lot more community members involved in contributing to the core platform and to event organization; whereas with Laravel, everything seems to be much more centralized, although both of them are on a very high level.
One potential downside of being very centralized and not having that much community involvement is the lack of connections between the local communities. For example, I missed some kind of announcement and/or promotion of other upcoming Laravel events from local communities, which I’ve gotten used to from DrupalCamps and DrupalCons.
All in all, Laracon EU 2023 was a great experience, and one I very much look forward to repeating as soon as possible and getting to know the community even better. The next stop is Laravel Live in June, which the Agiledrop team will be sponsoring and definitely attending – see you there!