Before the proper event begins, we have an interview with Michael Cheng, commonly known as miccheng, who is the organizer of the event.

So, Mike, what prompted you to organize this event?

I see a shortage of PHP developers in Singapore and a growing need by Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to use PHP. So I started the group to help develop and grow the number of developers and also to help match-make the developers with businesses.

But with the shortage of PHP developers in Singapore, how will this help in match making them with businesses?

There are developers, just that they are entry-level. I hope that through this group, we can help to expose these developers to new things and to help them develop new skills – to be on par with the top tiered developers.

It’s not just developers we are targeting, [but] its also companies that deploy PHP solutions. We hope that this community can be an avenue where they can market their services and recruit developers.

That’s a good idea. I understand that this is the second meet up that you have. What’s so different about today’s meet up from the first?

[We have a] different venue for one, [and] this month, we are touching on how PHP can work with other technologies, and we have a speaker from Microsoft, Chris Ismael, to talk to us about how MS tools and server technologies and co-exisit and interoperate in the business environment. We also have Rama Yurinda from Zend Technologies talking abt how Zend Platform can benefit enterprises who use PHP.

[The] crowd [is] pretty much the same… [and] we’ve got food now! Oh, [and the] main difference [is that] we are splitting into 2 tracks now – 1 track for newbies & intermediate level developers (PHP101 Track) and the Professional Track (for seasoned pros and industry folks).

[Also] because in the last session, we had 3 speakers back to back and the meetup ended quite late. Also, splitting the topics will also facilitate better learning experience for everyone – newbies and oldies alike.

In preparation for today’s meetup, we also had a Business Brunch last weekend where we engaged the PHP Business community to hear their needs and to help them find developers that they need. It was an encouraging session where business folks get to network with our team and many developers. Moreover, I’ve formed a core team to help me organise this.

That’s really a lot of work involved. So, do you hope to gain anything from this?

I think everyone joins in with an agenda in mind. My agenda is to help people make the connections – business, professional or personal connections. If we get some monetary benefit along the way, I’m fine with it – cos it is really not cheap to do this, but we run a pretty tight ship here.

Will you eventually charge for organizing an event like this?

We would like to keep this free for as long as we can. As long as sponsors come forward, and people still offer us venues, we will keep organising it. I suspect we will eventually go on a tiered model, because this meet up isn’t the only thing we are organising – we have various special interest groups in the work. We just formed a Facebook SIG (special interest group) [and] they will be working with Garag3 next year to develop and run a FB Developer Garage, and we have other initiatives in the pipeline now… such as a "PHP Bootcamp" for extreme coding. We’ll keep things free for as long as we can [and] if the cost overruns, we will have to charge. Who knows, we may have a PHP Conference at Suntec next year.

Thank you so much for your time. do you have any words for people who are coming to the event today?

My advice would be – don’t wait to be served. Help yourself and take initiative. Your learning and ability to grow is in your own hands. The User Group can only do so much, the rest is up to you. Let the market thrive.

And there you have it, our exclusive interview with Michael Cheng, who is the convener of the Singapore PHP User Group. We’d adjourn for a short while and when we are back, we’ll bring you the highlights of the event. Stay tuned.

— Intermission —

Notice: There will be 2 tracks running concurrently for today’s Singapore PHP User Group meet up. This live blogging will be covering the Professional Track. Nicole will be covering the PHP101 track.



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