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Intro to PHP talk at LUV Beginners

Linux Users of Victoria (LUV) holds a beginners’ session every month, aimed at people who are interested in Linux, but who might need some additional guidance or direction to get going. I was honoured to be asked to present at this month’s session, providing an introduction to the PHP programming language. You can see the presentation on Slideshare here;

For a presenter, the venue, The Hub at Docklands, is perfect. It comfortably seats around 25 people, has good lighting, a whiteboard and a projector and projector screen. These worked perfectly with my Ubuntu-ised EEEPC, running Open Office Impress. My Logitech wireless presenter generally worked well, but it was sluggish at times.

The feedback from the presentation was generally positive. Introducing PHP is a very large topic, and in condensing it to around 2 hours there was a lot that had to be left out.

On reflection, I think that there are generally two entrypoints to PHP – and the current material and literature is really only appropriate for one of them – something that the community may have to consider in the future.

  • Coders who are already familiar with programming concepts such as variables, flow of execution, conditional processing, data structures etc. For this group of people, PHP is simply another programming language. The specifics that they are interested in are how PHP does object oriented, what specific language features it has, what the appropriate IDE and testing / quality assurance tools are etc.
  • People who have come from a blogging or design (say CSS and HTML with graphics) background, for instance via WordPress or Drupal, appear to approach learning PHP in a different way. The concepts that are important here are how PHP differs from HTML, the static vs dynamic concept, and a solid foundation in the client-server HTTP request response lifecycle.

Perhaps the PHP introductory documentation has to be rejigged to be more appropriate to each audience?