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Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Singapore PHP User Group meeting - my first time

After missing the first two Singapore PHP User Group meetings (due to unforeseen last minute events), I finally managed to show my face at the third meeting this evening. I must admit that I went in with low expectations, based on the programme, but came away, well, a bit more knowledgeable.

There were two parts to the meeting. The first part was a presentation about "design patterns", i.e. a run-through of three popular methods for structuring a (software) program, regardless of programming language used. It's similar to how you can learn to drive a car, but don't need to know how to specifically drive a Toyota (example taken from the presenters).

The key takeaway was that design patterns simplify development work through a "divide and conquer" method, such that one person's work not only doesn't overlap another person's, but also doesn't overwrite other work. Theoretically, this can be expanded to cover any form of work.

From this first part, I learned a bit about other design patterns besides the familiar model-view-controller one (which I was forced to learn when doing my first program for Mac OS X). However, it was the second part of the programme where I totally tuned out.

The topic was to learn how to connect to a MySQL database with PHP. I didn't follow this session not because I am already familiar with the methods, but I believe in making use of commonly available frameworks. These sets of pre-built code not only simplify the whole process, but also reduce the chances of programming errors.

But I guess that's the problem with a one-size-fits-all meeting. There was a mix of experienced PHP developers and newbies. Like they say, before you can walk, you must learn how to crawl. Frameworks are for developers who know how to walk already. But once they learn walking, they'll be running very soon too. And that's why I personally believe that newbies should be exposed to frameworks as soon as possible.

Anyway, I got to chat with a few people, both familiar and not, so that was pretty fun too.


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