I had to head into the office in the morning, so I arrived at ZendCon right after lunch and in time for Marc Andreessen’s keynote talk. The first half was a review of 50 years of computing in 30 minutes.
For me, the key takeaway is that computers are much faster than before. Seems obvious, but I think lots of programmers still have that mainframe mindset where you need to squeeze out every inch of performance, and they don’t consider that sometimes the correct solution is throwing hardware at the problem instead of developer resources.
The idea that sometimes performance is vital, but not as often as you think is something I’ve been trying to sell for a long time.
The second half of the talk was open session for Q&A and the questions were all over the map. People asked about the early days of Netscape all the way to “what’s the next big thing?”. I think the highlight for me was, during a question about the benefit of standards and the Netscape/Microsoft HTML wars, when Marc said (after a reasonable preable about innovation vs compatibility): “when I added the image tag to HTML, the HTML purists got all mad at me, too.”
When we first started Student.Net in the summer of 1995, I do remember a 30 minute conversation about whether it was acceptible to use HTML tables as part of our design. Not because we were CSS presentation zealots, but because we weren’t sure we could count on all browsers supporting tables! Finally, we decided the layout would degrade (somewhat) gracefully, so it was okay.
I only made it to one afternoon session — the one on PHP and Windows. The speaker from Microsoft was actually quite good and interested in using PHP on Windows. It was a good fit, as unlike lots of other conferences with a PHP track (such as OSCON), the audience was actually using PHP on Windows servers. I remember the debate when we chose this talk. We were afraid it would be a lot of .NET/C# spin, but it was totally the opposite, so chalk one up for Microsoft.
I snuck out early from the talk to set up the eBay / PayPal joint Developers Program booth. Dave, Alan, and myself were staffing the booth, with extra-special guest PB.
We had a good turn out. Lots of people interested in eBay and PayPal. Given the business focus of the conference, I wasn’t too surprised, but I was still happy to see it. In particular, I think PayPal’s recent purchase of Verisign’s Payment Gateway Business will be a boon for their Developer Program.
After the Expo Hall closed for the night, Zend threw a (slightly belated) PHP 10th birthday party. PayPal provided the DJs, who were actual PayPal Developers Program employees.
Today looks to be a fun day. I’m going to congratulate Michael on the birth of his son. Another project successfully launched. And later today is my talk. I’m doing the intro and then Andrew from Terapeak/DataUnison is doing the rest.