In February 2015 when I found out Laracon US was going to be in Louisville, Kentucky I dropped everything I was doing and bought tickets. Even if I wasn’t selected to talk I was going to attend a PHP Conference that was easy driving difference from Memphis. Laracon US in previous years was held in New York and Washington, DC. The closest PHP conferences to Memphis are in LoneStarPHP (Dallas) and php[tek] (Chicago). Both conferences are around an eight hour drive. I was really excited for a PHP conference to come so close to home.

It was an easy sell to talk my coworker and fellow MemphisPHP’er Luke Wilkins into joining me for a five and a half hour road trip. Louisville is well known for it’s bourbon, so that is another perk of going to Laracon.

I’ve only been attending conferences for just over a year. My first PHP conference was php[tek] 2014 as an attendee. I was incredibly fortunate to make the jump from attendee to speaker in a short timeframe. My first time attending a conference as a speaker was later that year at php[world] in November 2014. Having attended a handful of conferences as a speaker and attendee I have tremendous respect for the conference organizers. From the small events and conferences I’ve helped organize in Memphis, I have seen first hand what goes into pulling off these big events.

Laracon US 2015 picked a beautiful venue, The Kentucky Center in downtown Louisville. The auditorium / hall the talks were held in was really large and perfect for a conference event. The facilities were great and the staff was always there if you needed anything.

The speaker line up for Laracon was really great. Many names you’ll find at other conferences and a few you won’t. The first talk of the day was from Matt Stauffer talking about leveraging Laravel for rapid application development for side projects. Matt moved really fast through his talk and to cover as much content as he did that was really the only way to accomplish it in the hour time slot. The second talk “when it all hits the fan” from Eryn O’Neil was one I could easily relate to from spending the past 3 years or so working for an agency type company. She offered solid advice on making a plan ahead of time before anything hits the fan.

Before lunch the attendees were treated to a round of JeoPHPardy hosted by Jeremy Mikola. It was really great. The second day was another round and a final round where prizes were awarded. Jeremy was great entertainment.

I missed Adam Wathan’s talk “chasing ‘perfect'” but it had a good reaction from attendees.

Ed Finkler talked about Open Sourcing Mental Illness, it’s a powerful talk and it hits me really hard every time I see it. I always recommend this to anyone who has never seen it before.

Gemma Lynn was up next and gave a great talk about navigating your git repository. I’ve attended a few of Gemma’s talks and I always walk away learning something new and useful, this talk was no exception.

Ending the first day, Taylor Otwell gave a keynote talking about an upcoming Laravel feature called “spark” which allows you to quickly and easily build a Sass based product with minimal bootstrapping. Laravel Spark seems to take advantage of several Laravel packages such as Cashier and builds on what Taylor and others have learned by building software as a service products.

The second day Jeffrey Way gave a talk about “things Laravel made me believe” I missed his talk, but like Adam Wathan’s I saw great things being said on social media.

The talk I had seen before but wanted to see again was Paul M. Jones’ “Same thing happens every time” Paul says this talk is a way for him to get on stage and talk about movies. Paul shows off a lot of things that will make you view movies differently. The first time I saw this talk I really focused on the movies portion of it and the group dynamics that seem to be common among many popular movies. This second time around I really focused more on the last half of the talk which discussed the different group dynamics found among developer teams. This talk should be required for anyone who manages teams of developers.

I was busy trying to scope out the hallway track and missed Brian Webb’s talk. I was so motivated by Matt Stauffer’s “leveraging laravel” talk I was already hard at work on a side project that until Laracon, was still bouncing around my head.

I made it back in time for Samantha Geitz’s talk about “Service oriented Laravel & Lumen”. It was interesting to hear how she solved problems by building microservices instead of building large monoliths.

After Samantha’s talk I was back to work on my side project and completely missed Samantha Quiñones “hacking the human interface” talk. Like the other talks I missed it was very well discussed on twitter and I feel sorry for missing out.

Closing out Laracon was Yitzchok Willroth with his “Talmudic Maxims to maximize your growth as a developer” I’ve seen this talk once before and it is great a second time as well. One of the better conference talks I’ve seen for really engaging with the audience and you see the wheels turning as attendees listen and relate to what Yitz is talking about.