On June 8, 1995 Rasmus Lerdorf open-sourced the code for his "Personal Homepage" and posted it to the news group comp.infosystems.www.authoring.cgi. Yes, NNTP was hot and famous back in those days! And because Ben Ramsey asked everyone in the PHP community to tell their PHP story, I felt it was time to share mine.
For me, my PHP story begins 6 years after Rasmus published his source code for PHP. In 2001 I started as System Engineer at Telenet, a cable internet provider in Belgium, where they were looking for someone to develop and maintain their website in PHP. I had worked as Perl developer in the past and found the change to PHP relatively easy.
In 2005 I started off as a freelancer working as PHP developer and worked at several positions in big enterprises and government agencies.
In 2006 I was introduced to PHPUnit, thanks to Sebastian Bergmann's PHPUnit Pocket Guide which seemed like a very smart way to test your applications. So that's when I started writing unit tests for the first time and never stopped writing them.
After working with PHP for 5 years, I was doubting if I was doing a good job as there was not much to compare with. So in 2006 I got Zend Certified for PHP 4 which opened up a whole new world to me. As Zend Certified Engineer (ZCE) I received an invite from Zend to join their biggest PHP event of the year:ZendCon 2007. So I saved up all that I could spare and booked my flight, ticket and hotel stay.
At ZendCon I was introduced to "The PHP Community" through the Zend Trading Cards which was a brilliant idea to introduce the "community" to newcomers in the community. And I met Mr. Cal Evans, who in his gentle voice and everlasting smile said "I was the one" to form a community myself in my own region. The last day of ZendCon, I got a phone call from my wife at 2am saying we were expecting a baby! That was probably the wildest night for me at ZendCon.
On June 8, 2008 my wife gave birth to our son Xander. Another sign that PHP would have a major impact on my life.
Together with the help of Felix De Vliegher we started PHPBelgium. Later on we joined forces with the Dutch PHP user group phpGG and formed PHPBenelux.
In 2009 my wife and I founded in2it where I would be doing the same thing as I was already doing: providing professional PHP consulting services to businesses, giving professional training courses and coach development teams to improve the way they develop PHP applications. My wife took over the graphical design part and together we have lifted the company into a known brand for web application development and design.
In that same year I was asked to speak at Dutch PHP Conference about SPL. Since that first talk I've spoken at several conferences in the world and attended even more.
In 2010 our second son Ares was born during Zend Framework bug hunt days on July 18 and our third son Tycho was born just before PHPBenelux Conference 2013. So yes, all our sons have PHP-ness since their births.
Yes, PHP has given me a basis to earn a good living, pay my bills and support my family. But it also has given me the PHP community: A big, welcoming group of people who I call my distant family. And all thanks to Mr. Cal Evans, the Godfather of the PHP Community.