conferences, Locastic Apr 24

DevConMU opens up the Spring Conference Season!

11 min read –
Mauritius DevCon at Le Morne

When I wrote my first line of code I never thought that my path might take me to Africa to speak about programming, not even in my wildest dreams. But, there you have it.

The spring season of conferences started with unreal Mauritius and DevConMU. I delivered two talks, the first one regarding Progressive Web Apps (PWA) and the second about building REST API using API Platform.

A year with Progressive web applications

Antonio  Peric-Mazar is talking about Progressive Web applications
A year with PWA

In my first talk about PWA, the main point was that PWA should not be a fancy word and a marketing buzzword – it’s what web should be. Using very easy techniques and implementation methods, you can achieve a lot of benefits for your users. Sounds interesting? A few hours of additional work and to provide a huge benefit for your customers.

Progressive web apps should not be trendy, it’s what the web should be.

DevConMU organisers used PWA in a very smart way. They implemented a simple offline caching feature, so once you downloaded the schedule and speakers list, you had that information all the time. In this way, they saved hundreds of Euros for foreign attendees and speakers, including myself. Just for the note, 1MB of data costs around 10 Euros for roaming services in Mauritius. Data is expensive and we need to care about it, we can’t get it for granted.

53% of users abandon sites that take longer than 3 seconds to load

Also, we need to have in mind that 60% of mobile connection is still 2G (no, I am not talking about undeveloped countries, most of these users are in the USA), and an average time to load the website on 3G is 19 seconds or 14 seconds on 4G. And you know that 53% of users abandon sites that take longer than 3 seconds to load! Think about that for a while!

Web is doomed
Photo: ID Software

In 2016, the average website was already the same size as Doom installer. Since then, the average size of websites is growing and growing, and that has a huge effect on the usability of websites on mobile devices. Today, the average size of the website is around 3MB.

The average web page is 3MB, a compressed copy of the installer for the shareware version of Doom takes up about 2.39MB of space.

This is just a few facts that are showing us how the mobile web is broken. PWA give us abilities to improve it and with improving mobile we will also improve desktop websites user experience. It must be our duty to build a proper web for our users, and PWA gives us good tools and guidance for it. In the end it is not about PWA it is about users!

Slides are available here.

REST easy with API Platform

Antonio Peric-Mazar is talking about API Platform
REST easy with API platform

My second talk was about building proper and real REST APIs using API Platform. API Platform is a powerful framework built on top of Symfony framework. It allows you to quickly build real REST APIs and it can be used for big and small applications.

Out of the box, it supports GraphQL, MongoDB, ElasticSearch, CRUD, filters and search, validation, sorting, pagination, serialization groups, caching and caching invalidation and everything you need to build modern and powerful APIs.

Starting with API Platform

In my talk, I showed how it is easy to start with API platform and what it is about. I also spoke a lot about using it and about our experiences with API platform, what are possible pitfalls and what are the best practices. Most of my talk was about our best practices with API platform, and some nice tips and tricks that developers usually miss from the documentation. I mentioned pitfalls that we had with tests and how we are handling it today, Paula already wrote about it on our blog.

Even that API platform doesn’t support translations out of the box; we’ve built a bundle for it – here is how you can add it to your project.

More about Mercure

I also mentioned Mercure, as a new supercool thing that is very easy to integrate with Symfony and API platform. Mercure is a protocol allowing to push data updates to web browsers and other HTTP clients in a convenient, fast, reliable and battery-efficient way. It is especially useful to publish real-time updates of resources served through web APIs, to reactive web and mobile apps. Mercure is basically a higher-level replacement for WebSocket. Unlike WebSocket, it is compatible with HTTP/2 and HTTP/3. You can read more about Mercure here.

Mercure Protocol
Mercure Protocol

At the end of my API platform, I mentioned GFNY Ticketing system that we build using API Platform on the backend and React on the frontend side.

GFNY Ticketing System is an online ticketing platform for the world’s largest bicycle marathon with user profiles, administration and a public side. This app is used in 20 different countries, with more than ten currencies, languages and letter types. This web application is supporting more than 60.000 racers each year with different time zones, gamification, custom tickets, different levels of franchise owners, partners, staff members etc. This project is a great example of how you can use API platform for very complex projects.

Slides are available here.

#DevConMU

DevConMU attendees, speakers and organizators
DevConMU People

This was the fifth edition of DevConMU, and in three days it gathered around five hundred attendees. It is a great thing to see that developers community is growing in Mauritius and they have regular meetups and few more conferences during the year.

People at conferences are very keen to ask questions, to learn and to participate in conversation and discussions about technology. This is also an advantage of having smaller rooms and smaller number of attendees at talks. You can get more connected with them, and after the talk usually, you will get a lot of questions and topics to discuss. I had a lot of questions in both of my talks, and some of them were continued after the talk and during evenings.

Don’t get me wrong, it is a special feeling to speak in front of hundreds of people, but you will never get that level of interaction as in this case.

DevConMU Speakers in Mauritius
DevConMU Speakers

During all days of the conference, every evening there were networking events, one even included seggae – traditional Mauritius’ music and dance. As usual, for me, this was the best part of conferences. We had a lot of nice time learning from each other, discussing a lot of things in development, give feedback to each other about talks and also learn a lot about different cultures and people. I met a lot of amazing persons and developers and learn a lot. Thank you, everyone, for each minute we spent together at the conference, it was a pleasure.

Organisers did fantastic work, and everything was on time. They are friendly and they care about speakers and attendees. Thank you for putting this together and to joining so many different communities in the beautiful land of Mauritius.

Mauritius is a hidden gem!

It is hard to write about DevConMU without adding a paragraph about the special ingredient – Mauritius. This was my first conference and my first visit to Africa. So, yeah, I got a new continent added to my travelling list.

Antonio Peric-Mazar at the top of Le Morne, Mauritius. DevConMu.
Le Morne, Mauritius

Mauritius is a wonderful island on the South East of Africa. It was inhabited during the 16th century when Dutch people discovered it. Later was under the French government, and before the independence (1968) it was under British ruling.

Almost around the entire island is a coral reef, and flora and fauna are unique. There is a mixture of many cultures, and all the people I met are quite friendly. I combined this conference with part of my holidays, so I travelled around the island – the only part I didn’t visit was East coast, but I needed to have something as an excuse to go again.

Walking with Lions in Mauritius, DevConMU
Walking with Lions, Mauritius

I did three hikes; Lion Mountain, 7 cascades (The Tamarin falls) and Le Morne of course, I swam with dolphins and on coral reef, I walked with lions – real lions, you can check the video here. Still, haven’t found the Dodo. :'(

View from Lion Mountain Mauritius

Lion Mountain, Mauritius

There is no better thing in the world than combining a job you love with your travelling passion. My impression of this journey was so big that I considered writing a travel blog about it. Maybe I will do that, but meanwhile, you can check how it looks on my Instagram profile.

Where I will be speaking next?

My spring and part of summer are fully booked. My next stop is Čakovec, Croatia where I will speak at Weblica conference. I will talk about PWA and why UI is the most important part of your application.

In Belgrade, at PHP Serbia (25-26.05), I will talk about Symfony4 and new way of developing web applications. The same talk I will deliver at International PHP conference in Berlin (3-7.06.), and at Webinale I will talk about PWA.

The first half of the year will be closed with DutchPHP (6-8.6) in Amsterdam where I will talk about the importance of User experience and why the UI is the application.

So, yes I will travel a lot and will be doing a lot of talks, but I am excited about it. If you are attending some of these conferences, let’s meet and grab a cup of coffee or a beer – my treat. Take care.