PHP Interview With Francesco Fullone The President Of The Italian PHP User Group GrUSP – Confrontation Is The first Step To Enlightenment

About This Interview

This is the #23rd set of PHP Interview to help aspiring PHP developers and PHP fans alike to get inspired by listening from those PHPeople who are already highly involved into the PHP Ocean and *being there* taming the waves and surfing better than ever to make themselves an Awesome PHP Expert both in their own eyes (for self-accomplishment) and for the PHP Community.

On the other side, this is an opportunity for new PHPers to get to know their “PHP Elders. I hope you will derive as much fun to read my interviews as I’m having by interviewing those awesome PHP people.

A Small Intro..

Francesco Fullone – President Of The Italian PHP User Group GrUSP

In this edition I talked with Francesco Fullone who is the President of the Italian PHP User Group GrUSP which is one of the biggest European PHP families. Francesco is an Open-source lover, an enthusiastic PHP Evangelist and a conference organizer. He has also been a speaker at so many conferences – his latest talk being about “Compromises and not solution“. You can find more about him on his personal blog “NULLA E’ IMPOSSIBILE PER CHI NON LO DEVE FARE!

And Now The Interview…

>> Please tell us a bit about yourself

I always loved the idea to share my passion about technology and since my 1st speech during a linux-day in 2002 I worked as open source and PHP evangelist, that’s one of the main reasons why I’m the GrUSP president, one of the biggest European communities on PHP, and I’m in the steering committee of phpDay and jsDay and other tech conferences.

Since I love working with new technologies and with smart people, after some years as a consultant, I founded my own companies and In the last two years I used most of my time to manage my companies and organize conferences than coding but I always see myself as a PHP developer 🙂

>> How you started with PHP

After a small adventure in assembly, during the first year at the university, I started a little project in Perl (a complete forum suite). I fell in love with internet and everything around it and in late ‘98 I learned PHP. In those years finding good tutorials was quite difficult in Italy so I started to participate to a PHP mailing list, in about 3 years the mailing list evolved into a conference ([phpDay @phpday]) and into the Italian php user group ([GrUSP @GrUSP]). I entered the steering committee of both in 2005 after the 3rd phpDay.

>> Your LAMP stack comprises..

On my laptop Ubuntu 12.04 + Apache + PHP 5.4 + MySQL or MongoDB
On my desktop Windows 8 + IIS (or Apache) + 5.3.x + MongoDB

The servers I use have debian or centos installed.

>> The relationship between You and The PHP Community comprises..

organize (and participate to) conferences, meetings and workshops. Traveling in Europe and Italy and drink a lot of beer.

>> How do you find PHP now as compared to when you first started

It grew a lot, as language and community. Now we (the PUGs) have to help people to grow as good developers. 😉

>> Based on your experience, what are the good and bad parts of PHP

(It’s a very easy language to learn)^2

>> What would be the Top advice to a PHP beginner

Look for a local PUG and join in. If you live in Italy the GrUSP spawned across the whole country. We opened PUGs in Milan, Turin, Rome, Verona, Bologna, etc. If your city doesn’t have one, just ask the GrUSP to help you open one.

>> To someone who wants to become a better PHP developer..?

Participate to conferences (@phpday, @phpbenelux and @phpconference are my preferred), meet-ups, hackdays and whatever you like. Don’t forget to collaborate to at least one open source project. Confrontation is the first step to enlightenment.

>> The best PHP book you’ve read

Pro PHP refactoring – published by Apress, (by @cphp and @jacoporomei)  — is a good book to learn how to improve and refactor your code.

>> A PHP blog or resource you highly recommend

For the italian developers I suggest the mailing list of the GrUSP, it’s an high-level-skill mailing list and all the members have a good attitude. Time by time I read, and follow the guys.

>> The IDE that you use

I used Zend, Netbeans and lately phpStorm. But, as I wrote before, nowadays I’m less coding and more managing… so I rarely open a full stack IDE preferring VIM for coding (even on windows). I’m not a VIM guru, but I really love it.

>> How do you debug your PHP code?

For small script var_dump() and print_r() are still my preferred way. If I’m working in something bigger xdebug or zend server tracing systems are my definitive choice.

>> A PHP framework you use and would recommend

I’m in love with Symfony, I used it since its first public release and never abandoned it. For my personal micro-projects I tried some mini or micro frameworks such as silex or slim.

>> A unit test framework you recommend using?

PHPUnit is the only possible choice. I will never suggest something different.

>> A CMS that you think is worthwhile

It depends on the needs, if you need to manage a blog/pseudo-static site WordPress is the best choice, both for easiness of configuration and management than for the humongous number of themes and plugins. If the need is a CMS, there are many solutions… and there’s no a right answer 🙂

>> An E-Commerce cms you recommend

Build an E-commerce is a really hard task, I manage 3 distinct ecomme rce and for each of them we developed custom solutions because of the restriction of the IT department of our customers. The problem isn’t in the cart or in the checkout but in all the stuff that happens before and after them (warehouse management, shipping, etc).

>> One PHP System/software/library/Project you really appreciate

Have I mentioned symfony? The ecosystem behind symfony is really huge and it helped me a lot in my daily routine.

>> One function that you like (or which you tend to use frequently)

The most used is var_dump(), I don’t “like” a particular functions, simply I use the one I need…

>> One PHP person that you admire and what strikes you about him/her

[Enrico Zimuel @ezimuel] is a great developer and a great person. He has a lot of knowledge in different (tech) disciplines other than PHP and he is always available to share some advice.

Enrico Zimuel Senior Software Enginner At Zend Technologies

>> One PHP Community that you recommend

I’m in touch with different communities, anyone has pro and cons. I think that the best community it the one give the advice you need and help you to grow as person and developer. Nevertheless the project, the library or the language behind that.

In Italy I can cite the, and (not related to php but to all the web development stuff). I participated a little in the symfony community and I enjoyed it.

>> Are you part of any PHP User group? Could you tell a bit about it..

Yup! I’m the current president of the GrUSP. This Italian national-wide PUG organize the, the (an only javascript conference), and a lot of minor events across the whole country. We are very active and since 2010 we open local PUG branches. Actually we have, more or less, 300 active members and 1000 subscribed to our newsletter.

>> A PHP Usergroup that you appreciate and would highly recommend

Emh.. [GrUSP @GrUSP] off course

>> The best conference you attended would be..

phpDay+jsDay 2012. We offered the “earthquake experience”, for the 2013 edition we are working on alien invasion 😉

>> Can you please share the good, and may be not so good moments, of being part of all the conferences you attended

I’m getting old and I’m not more suited to drink with North or Est European speakers and attendees. Guys you are killing me 😉

>> What are the main aspects of conferences that can really help a PHP guy to get better in his progression

Social areas and events. Use the conference to learn about new topics but then use those events to share your point of view with the other attendee

>> Which was the worst programming mistake you did?

I did a lot of mistake, the worst one was not to use an SCM for a big project because the customer convinced me that was not necessary. After I rewrote a lot of code I learned the lesson. 😉

>> Things that you’ve learned from being part of The PHP Community

Always listen to others. I’m (was) a good programmer but I never was a kick-ass ninja developer. Listen and learn from other is a great lesson I learned during the conferences, meetings and chats with other php fellows.

>> If you could change one thing with PHP, that would be…?

Rewrite some function names. Same story you can read everywhere in any rants on php 🙂

>> If you had to go back in time, would you still choose PHP? What would you do different?

I definitely would use again PHP.

>> How do you time manage all the stuffs that you do, coupled with your personal life?

I have a great and tolerant wife, sometimes I use some bed time to do extra work. But I was lucky enough to work in my own company which is php-centric 😉

>> The day you realised “You’ve made it to the A-List PHP arena” ?

I never realised it. Simply I’m enjoying all the contacts the GrUSP and the PHP community were giving me without thinking about A or B list arenas.

>> Why you are successful and why others are not?


Side Note: For those who do not understand this answer of “42”, I asked Fullone and he replied: “42 is the ‘answer about life, the universe, everything’ (Google it) and is a nerd way to say: ‘I don’t know’ 😉 “

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