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Still in love - PHP Unconference 2011 (Hamburg)

Note: This article was originally published at Planet PHP on 13 September 2011.
Planet PHP

After five years I am still in love with the PHP Unconference Hamburg (Germany), which took place last weekend. On Saturday morning I was as thrilled as if I was going to the first date with a person I had just fallen in love to. Facts: 200 tickets sold in 20 minutes! 350 tickets sold in total, 280 attending. One can't compare this pure madness with any german PHP (un)conference I have presented at during the past 11 years. The continued success of this local german event makes me break my own tradition of german language only reports. What is so special about this event? What makes it my #1 annual PHP event in Germany?

Unbelievable, unbeatable unconference

Secret number one: the popstars. All the german PHP popstars go there since five years! This year, for example, Pierre Joye (PHP core developer, Mr. Windows), Sebastian Bergmann (PHP expert, book author), Johannes Schlueter (PHP 5.3 release manager), Kristian Koehntopp (general purpose guru at booking.com), Jan Lehnardt (CouchDB), Hartmut Holzgraefe (PHP contributor, MySQL guru) came to Hamburg, to name only a few of the internationally known. Plus, a great number of internationally lesser known experts that can easily compete with the superstars.

Secret number two: is it an unconference. At the beginning of every unconference day, all attendees gather around the "bathtube". People propose sessions of any kind - discussion, presentations, workshops - and start voting. This year, there have been about one hundred proposals to choose between. Because the audience does the selection, only relevant and hot topics win. There is no expert jury making more or less educated guesses on what could be of interest. No sponsor slots.

Secret number three: the price. The ticket price of 30 Euro is affordable to all. Prices are kept extremly low by help of many sponsors (Travian Games, Bigpoint, Mayflower, Cloud Control, Microsoft, Amazon Web Services, Mindworks, TEQneers, ICANS, apprupt, Bytemark Hosting, Estivo). The Department of Informatics, Hamburg University, provides the perfect venue with the "bathtube" in the middle and six surrounding lecture rooms. Food is self-service but yummy and, if it comes to important details, such as the coffee, it is stellar. A wide variety of Open Source (biological, fair-trade) coffee was offered! That was real coffee not hot water as served in many conference centers.



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