CakeFest 2014 : a look back

Disclaimer:  I’ve written this post a few days after I came back from CakeFest 2014.  Unfortunately, it is unfinished, and by now I have completely lost hope of ever finishing it.  My main excuse is that the first day after CakeFest was my first working day at my new job, which completely and totally consumed me for a few months.  And now, it seems like CakeFest 2014 was a few decades ago.  Mostly I wanted to do two things here: list all the talks with videos and slides, which has probably been done by other people by now, and tell everyone that this was one of the best events I’ve ever attended.  For those who haven’t been to one, I strongly recommend getting a ticket to CakeFest 2015, which will take place end of May in New York, USA.  End of Disclaimer.


It’s been a week since I came from Madrid, where I’ve attended CakeFest 2014, a conference dedicated to CakePHP framework.  Now that I’ve caught up on sleep, calmed down, and cleared out my mailbox, I have a few minutes to look back at the event and share my thoughts and impressions.


For those of you who are too busy to read the whole thing, here’s the executive summary.  I had very high expectations of the conference way before I went.  I knew there will be one or two core developers.  I knew that there were previous events before.  And I do usually expect high quality stuff from the CakePHP community.  But as I high as my expectations were, the event went through the roof!  It was an absolutely amazing couple of days, where I met a lot of cool people, learned a lot, and had plenty of fun!  If you missed this year’s conference and you are involved in any shape or form with CakePHP, make sure you attend the next year one.  Start making your arrangements now.  You can thank me later.

Now for the long story…

This year’s CakeFest was a four day event.  Two first days were dedicated to hands on workshops, and the last two days to talks and sessions on a variety of subjects.  Being a somewhat experienced CakePHP user I decided to skip the workshops and only attend the talks.

While the highlight of this year is the upcoming CakePHP version 3 release, I was genuinely interested in pretty much all topics on the schedule – testing, debugging, API development, new CakePHP 3 features, front-end integration with JavaScript frameworks, etc.  My goal was to attend every single talk and I’m happy to report that I managed to do that, even though that was tough.  Let me explain why.

I’ve landed in Madrid on Friday morning, almost a full day ahead of the conference start.  That gave me time to relax after a few hours of connecting flights, enjoy some tapas and beers, and meet some of the people who were there for the event.   I’ve hanged out chatting for a few hours, and then … we all went drinking in the evening.  Those of you who know me, know that I can handle my pints.  But that was something!  CakeFest kindly sponsored the drinks at the hotel.  The atmosphere was super friendly, and those people who attended the workshops needed a drink.  It all started slow, but almost spinned out of control, with the hotel bar closing too early and the hotel security keeping an eye on us.  Nevertheless, we still managed to “find” a few more drinks, during which crazy stuff started happening.

First, a couple of people got new haircuts.  I’m talking about full fledged Mohawks, trimmed and shaven by Larry Masters (aka @phpnut).  Note to those of you who will attend the next year’s event: you might want to practice saying “no” to the United States Marine Corps veteran of Desert Shield and Desert Storm. Second, the ALS ice bucket challenge was successfully attempted by three people. There is a video of it somewhere on YouTube, but I could find it right now.  The whole thing continued well into the wee hours – not sure until when exactly, as I got pretty wasted and removed myself from any potential possibilities of liabilities…

The morning of Day One wasn’t too bad.  Breakfast, lots of coffee and water leveled me out pretty fast and I was ready to learn.  Here are the session attended, in brief:

  • CakePHP Community Keynote by James Watts (slides).  This was a rather usual start for an event of this type.  A bit about the conference and sponsors, a bit about CakePHP, a bit about the history, and some statistics, showing that CakePHP is growing.
  • The Road to CakePHP 3.0 by Mark Story (slides).  This is a much anticipated introduction into what’s coming with CakePHP 3 by one of the core developers.  While the information is available online (including the source code, of course), Mark put in a way that made sense, focusing mostly not on what was changed, but why it was changed.
  • Advanced Querying With The New CakePHP 3.0 ORM by Jose Rodriguez (slides).  The new ORM without a doubt is the most challenging change.  It is a complete rewrite and review of concepts and approaches.  In this session, Jose demonstrated the new functionality and explained why the rewrite was needed and what has been achieved by it.
  • CakePHP and Auth by Mark Ypes.
  • AJAX and CakePHP by Mark Scherer (slides).
  • Scaling Your MySQL Instances And Keeping Your Sanity by Dave Stokes.  Dave Stokes is the MySQL Community Manager at Oracle and obviously knows a lot about the issues that drive people who use MySQL insane.  In his talk he collected a whole bunch of tools that are aimed at helping people scale MySQL.  Unfortunately, I can’t find the slides of this presentation, and that was all the meat of it – just tonnes and tonnes of tools.
  • Core Team Questions And Answers.  This session was an opportunity to ask core developers any questions.   As they jokingly refer to it – a public humiliation session.  I think this was one of the best sessions of the event.  It’s like when you know someone only online and then you meet them a while later, it’s good to put a face to a name.  Similarly here, but with a whole team.  I’ve been using CakePHP for a few years, and now I saw the core people who developed it, and I could ask them any question I wanted, face to face.  And I did ask plenty…
  • Effective Debugging by Andrew Dawson (slides).
  • Composer And CakePHP : Development Is Better With Package Management by Justin Yost.
  • Bootstrap : Mobile Sites In Minutes by Anna Filina (slides).
  • Frontend Asset Management With Bower and Gulp.js by Fahad Heylaal Renan Gonzalez.
  • Writing Code That Lasts by Rafael Dohms (slides).
  • Testing CakePHP App With Selenium And TravisCI by Yusuke Ando (slides).
  • Lightning Talks.  Git Workflow from CakeDC by Lubomir Stork (slides). Data Generator for Testing by @sizuhiko.

That looks a lot, doesn’t it? Well, because it is.  All the previous conferences that I’ve attended usually schedule the sessions from around 9am until about 6pm, with an hour for lunch break.  CakeFest did way more than that.  Sessions went from 9am to 9pm, with an hour for lunch break and a few shorter breaks during the day.  It was exhausting, but it was probably better than spreading these sessions across three days.  After these sessions were the primary reason for me to attend the event.

After such a productive day, the crowd split into a few groups and each went its way to get some food and drinks.  The crowd  I was in, walked through the city of Madrid for about 20 minutes and ended up in the steak and burger bar.  That place had nice food and plenty of beer.  It took us a while to situate the crowd, as there were plenty of us, and to pay the bill later, but overall, I think, we had good time.

Another 20 minutes of walk back to the hotel and … we realize that the hotel bar is closed.  I guess they thought they’d stop us from drinking.  Not a chance!  We found a small bar right outside the hotel, where we had countless drinks.  In fact, the bar owner complained that we’ve finished both barrels of beer, and most other drinks, and that she is now in the situation where .. she basically couldn’t remember when was the last time this happened.

After that bar we attempted to find another, and another, and .. well, I saw my bed around 5am, and I was up at 8am to have some breakfast and not to miss Day Two.  Now that was tougher than the morning before.

Here are the sessions from Day Two:

  • Microsoft Azure Keynote by Cory Fowler.
  • Profiling And Optimization by Mark Story (slides).
  • Payment Processing : You Are Doing It Wrong by Mariano Iglesias.
  • API Pain Points by Phil Sturgeon.
  • Why You Can’t Test by Chris Hartjes (slides).
  • Hour of Contribution : Introduction to Open Source with GitHub.
  • CakePHP Documentation / Contribution by Bryan Crowe.
  • Enterprise Cake by James Watts (slides).
  • AngualJS Fundamental Tutorial by Rosina Bignall.
  • Asynchronous Data Processing by Andrea Giuliano.
  • A/B Testing On A Variety Of Platforms by Jose Gonzalez (slides).
  • Croogo For Business Applications by Pierre Martin.

More CakeFest things:

One thought on “CakeFest 2014 : a look back”

Leave a Comment