SymfonyLive London 2015: Meet the speakers: Marek Matulka

SymfonyLive London begins tomorrow and we’re looking forward to Marek Matulka, PHP/Symfony developer at SensioLabs UK with over a decade of commercial experience, taking the stage later this week for his talk entitled ‘Modernising the Legacy’.

We managed to sit down with the self-proclaimed “usability freak” to ask him about his talk, what he is most looking forward to at the conference, and what he sees as as the biggest trends in PHP/Symfony at the moment.

Could you give us a quick summary of your background?

I started building sites whilst I was still at uni - mainly for fun, but it soon developed into a passion to build web solutions that were helping businesses to deliver better services to their customers. I’ve been working with PHP for almost 15 years now and I must admit PHP has improved a lot since I first started.

How long have you worked with Symfony?

Four or five years ago, I began experimenting with Symfony 2 while it was still in beta. When Symfony 2 came out, I migrated the project I was working on from the proprietary framework onto Symfony.

What do you see as the biggest trends in Symfony/PHP at the moment?

Standardisation is definitely the biggest trend at the moment. The work php-fig is doing to bring PSR is enormous, and I believe it will help the community work better together. I also think the adoption of Composer is amazing - you can find almost every library/bundle on Packagist these days - that’s awesome!

Which talk are you most looking forward to at SymfonyLive London 2015?

There are two particular talks I really want to see: ‘Building a pyramid: Symfony testing strategies’ by Ciaran McNulty and ‘Hexagonal Architecture - message-oriented software design’ by Matthias Noback - these are areas of software engineering which I am really interested in.

Why should people attend your talk?

In an ideal world we would love to get a new project to work on, but usually we get legacy projects, which are inherited from someone else. In my talk I will discuss a couple of simple techniques which will help make those projects better and more enjoyable to work with.  

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Join us at the QEII Conference Centre this Friday to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Symfony framework. If you haven’t already booked your tickets, you’ll have to be quick. We look forward to seeing you there!

eZ Publish CMS and Sylius eCommerce working together on top of Symfony

This post is written by Ivo Lukač, co-founder and board member at Netgen, which has 10 years’ experience working with eZ to build complex websites. Ivo is an eZ Publish CMS specialist and will be at SymfonyLive London 2015 as one of the event’s community partners. Find out more about our community partners and the conference on the SymfonyLive London website.

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Symfony is a powerful framework. This has been proven many times over, but Netgen and Locastic took on the challenge of combining of combining two big Symfony-based projects on top of one Symfony instance.

For those of you who don't know, eZ Publish is an open source PHP-based CMS first version dating back to 1999 and its second big overhaul is nearing completion. Besides refactoring a lot of features, it was also ported to Symfony full stack. The current stable version is 5.4, a hybrid system with new and legacy kernel provided together. At the end of this year, version 6, better known as eZ Platform, will be released with only the new kernel and no legacy code by default.

Sylius eCommerce is a much younger product, but has gained a lot of popularity within the Symfony community over the last two years, and could be claimed as the top Symfony-based eCommerce option available at the moment. It is also shipped as a full stack Symfony app, but most of the features are decoupled into separate bundles and could be used on their own. Locastic became involved with Sylius at its early stage and already has several shops built and in production.

Last year we had our first chance to integrate eZ Publish and Sylius. The project proved to be difficult. Most of the problems were caused by integrating the implementation with an old ERP. Merging eZ and Sylius was not simple, but we managed to do it to a degree that proved enough for the particular project. Later on we cleaned it up and opened the code on GitHub so that others can try it, use it, and contribute in return.

The current version of the integration uses the latest stable eZ Publish community version (2014.11) with all Sylius bundles (from version 0.14) installed via Composer and configured to make it work together with eZ. One additional bundle implements an eZ Publish field type which encapsulates creation, editing, and removing Sylius products inside eZ objects. It's very simple to work with both eZ Publish and Sylius APIs, thanks to the Symfony service container. Twig makes it possible to have Sylius-based pages (like the basket) with the same header and footer as other eZ-based pages and it works like a charm. Even the URLs are synchronised so the Sylius slug is replaced with the eZ generated one when products are shown in the eZ context. The user authentication works and remains separate.

The next logical step is to integrate both systems at the user level as well so that authentication works transparently across both systems. Such integration will provide further possibilities, such as merging the admin interface into one. The recently released 0.15 version of Sylius has some changes in the user management, which will help this integration.

What this project proves is that it is possible to combine two bigger products into one Symfony instance. The basis for this is, of course, Composer, but there is much more to it. The Symfony service container, as well as the Symfony routing and security components, also played a large role in the integration.

We are eager to see if the community will use this integration for their own CMS and eCommerce projects and we would love to hear your feedback. Your first chance is at SymfonyLive London where we will be holding a community stand on eZ and Sylius as one the community partners of the conference. See you there!

SymfonyLive London 2015: Meet the speakers: Seb Lee-Delisle

There’s just two days to go before SymfonyLive London kicks off, but we managed to sneak a quick chat with opening keynote speaker and digital artist, Seb Lee-Delisle.

In his career, Seb has won BAFTAs, launched a record label, worked as an illustrator, and founded his own digital agency. We’re excited to have him onboard to take centre stage to deliver the keynote entitled: ‘Getting artistic with code’, which promises details of his recent laser-fuelled experiments and live demos.

We caught up with Seb to dig into his creative background and ask him about the biggest challenges he’s faced with his experiments yet...

Could you give us a quick summary of your background? When did you first begin programming?

It's really hard to give a quick summary! I started programming in 1983 aged 11 when my father (a physics lecturer) brought home a Sharp pocket computer for me to play with. As I worked with other early computers I started programming little animations and graphics. Ever since then I've just done the same thing - use computers to realise my creative ideas. It's just got a little more complex now.

I dropped out of a computer science degree at Kingston, then got a job with an Amiga development house as an illustrator, then programmer, and then left the industry to concentrate on my music career, starting a band and setting up a record label. When I finally gave up on that I returned to computers and made Flash games, and set up a digital agency, Plug-in Media, which have won several awards for their work, including three BAFTAs. Several years ago I realised that the agency slog was not for me and I left the company to my partners and embarked on my career as a digital artist.  

Tell us more about PixelPyros and lasers - is it really as exciting as it sounds?

PixelPyros is an interactive digital fireworks display. All the effects are computer-generated using massive projectors and high power lasers. The fireworks are triggered by members of the audience that light orbs of light projected along the bottom of the screen. I love working with lasers as they create really bright spots of light, much brighter than a projector.

It's exciting to me because it's so large. The screen is 18m x 12m and 25 people can all interact with the show at once. It's really nice to look at something so huge and know that it all came out of my little brain.  

What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced with your experiments so far?

I work with C++ and openFrameworks which is incredibly difficult to get used to. There's also been a huge learning curve with controlling the lasers. I thought that most of the codebase already existed, but I had to work hard to get the lasers to move and look how I wanted them to.

Why do you think it’s important for developers to also bring out their artistic side?

I think most programmers have wanted to make a game at some point in their programming life. The urge to explore and create fun things is core to our being, and programmers are the most curious type of person. Often, in the drudgery of the professional environment, programmers can get stuck checking items off their list and forgetting why they love programming. Creative experiments can revitalise this. And, even more than that, there is a huge demand for programmers who can work in this way.

What would you say to those who consider themselves more logical than creative?

I think that most programmers have an innate creativity. They have to - they constantly solve problems in imaginative ways. I like to encourage people to explore that outside of their day to day job. Often I find that those extra-curricular experiments feed into their professional life, and can also even create new work opportunities for them. That's essentially what happened to me and now this is my career. 

How do you blur the boundaries between artist and coder?

All the graphics and animations that I make are generated with code. It's much easier to make this sort of work if the creative and technical skills reside inside the same person. The two sides of myself create a feedback loop -  one inspiring the other, and then vice versa. I know other artists that rely on programmers to realise their vision, and it's definitely not nearly as smooth or efficient a process. 

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SymfonyLive London is back at the Queen Elizabeth Conference Centre to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Symfony framework this year. We’ll be celebrating the Symfony birthday in style, with a fantastic speaker line-up, great agenda and exclusive workshops.

Last minute tickets are being snapped up so if you haven’t already booked yours, secure your place now.