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Looking back to 2008

First I want to wish everyone all the best for 2009 ! 2008 has been a very wonderful year and makes us looking positive to the future. To cope with the challenges we have to face in 2009, it doesn't hurt looking back to the past year and see where we can improve or act differently.

Let me go over a few keywords that had importance in 2008.

2008 was the year both Felix De Vliegher and I founded PHPBelgium, a PHP user group for PHP enthusiasts in Belgium. We had a slow start, but as the months passed by the popularity and importance of PHPBelgium grew. Not only for PHP enthusiasts but also for companies as Microsoft, O'Reilly, Ibuildings and AUSY. In October, Patrick Allaert joined our management team.

Besides providing best practices and presenting advanced programming topics, we also try to do as much as possible for the community by giving away elePHPants, books and tickets to PHP conferences (like ZendCon, php|works and phpnw).

Besides a good start up for PHPBelgium, the Dutch counterpart phpGG had also a very successful re-start in 2008. With more meetings, activities and combining forces with PHPBelgium to organize two very succesful theme-days (PHP Test Fest and BugHuntDay), they now are the most important PHP user group in the Netherlands.

Baby Xander
For me personally, 2008 was the best year ever with the birth of our son Xander. In the past 6 months he has grown into a very curious, enthusiastic and happy baby boy. Both my wife and I enjoy each day we can spend with him, seeing him discovering new things, learning new stuff and becoming very familiar with his surroundings. It's like watching a million years of evolution taking place in only a few months.

2008 is also the year for Ibuildings, becoming Europe's leading PHP professional services company. They first started in 1999 in Flushing, the Netherlands and extended their reach to the UK at the end of 2007. They are internationally credited as being an expert in PHP and related technologies, raising the bar on professional services and quality assurance. To quote the international PHP community: "Ibuildings is the new black", and I have to admit it's true.

Job Changes
I think 2008 is also the year where a lot of people changed jobs, including myself. But I think the most thrilling news was that Cal Evans changed shirts, from Zend to Ibuildings.

PHP 5.3 is about to reach its final stadium, but there was a HOT discussion for it's namespace implementation. I didn't follow the whole discussion, so I'm only reflecting here what the buzz was on almost all PHP channels.

Yes, we can !
2008 is also the year that an African-American won the presidential elections in the US. Although it has nothing to do with PHP, it sure is worth mentioning it here in my 2008 overview.

Obama's quote "Yes, we can !" does not only reflect on his mission in the White House but also for all PHP developers in the world. "Yes, we can !" will also be our default answer in regards to web application development, rich internet applications, social community projects and so much more. Yes, we can !

Zend Framework
I think it's fair to say that 2008 was also the year for Zend Framework, with over 10 million downloads (and counting), becoming the leading framework for enterprise web application development (and also large scale websites).

With the introduction of a certification exam for Zend Framework (ZFCE), Zend has enormously boosted the professional level of this powerful framework and with initiatives like BugHuntDay, the community involvement has increased a lot.

Also books like "PHP|Architect's Guide to programming with Zend Framework" by Cal Evans and "Zend Framework in Action" by Rob Allan, have boosted Zend Framework's popularity. And of course the many blogs and presentations that are too numerous to mention here have added their share to it's popularity.

Credit Crunch
We cannot neglect the fact that we're right in the middle of a financial crisis, refered to as the "credit crunch". I wish I could say it was something of 2008, but it will have effects in 2009 as well.

The credit crunch has effects in many industries, including the IT industry. Many large IT companies are faced with layoffs and this will continue to be a reality in 2009 as well.

But given the nature of PHP, being an open-source programming language, with a non-expensive nature and a rapid deployment history, this financial crisis might become a lucrative moment for PHP development in general. This thought is also shared by Ivo Jansch, CTO of Ibuildings who mentioned it in a blog post reflecting 2008.

Thank you !
Of course, 2008 has been a wonderful year for me, mostly because of you. Giving me constructive comments on my blog posts, meeting me at conferences and congratulating me on presentations that I share on So, thank you for all the love !!!


  1. What a whirlwind of a year - all the best for 2009 :)


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