Today was an amazing day down at PHPCon in Santa Clara.  I am the one Microsoft guy here and have spent the day learning by talking to PHP developers and many of the core PHP architects like Zeev, Wez, John, Sterling, Thies, George, Shane, and others...  These folks are amazing developers, with great minds who have lots of unique and fun ideas.  It has been a long time since I've been able to truly talk code at this level before and I can't express how thankful I am for the opportunity.

Before I came down I was worried about how I would be accepted by this crowd as a Microsoft representative.  Would it be hostile?  Would it be open?  I was pleasantly surprised by how well I was received.  Everyone has been open, understanding, and engaging.  We've talked about the negatives and positives of Microsoft, we've looked at ways that Microsoft and the PHP Community can work together and form a "symbiotic" relationship.  We've explored avenues for making PHP run better on windows and even discussed the complexities of having dynamic languages compile to IL.  The best part has been that most of the conversation has been relegated to the world of academic thought and I experienced no outright zealouts. 

Some people did not use Windows at all, but most did and I was surprised at how happy they were with it.  Don't get me wrong, they were happy to point out the problems they experienced and discuss their unhappiness with security -- but what surprised me the most was the kudos -- "given how big windows is I'm surprised at how secure the application is" was one quote.  All in all, I think this group of developers could really understand the undertaking that we have in developing software and can relate to the difficulties of building effective software applications.

This is more of rant considering the time, but I am happy with what I've learned.  I'm going to come away from here with a very new perspective on their community and I hope many of the people that I've been fortunate enough to touch will come away with a different perspective on Microsoft.   If you are from PHPCon and we talked, I'd love to hear from you more.  I hope your experience with me was as good as my experience with you. 

I have lots more to share, about the BOF I did on 'working with Microsoft and community,' and lots of interesting conversations with people in general.  Everyone at Microsoft should have an opportunity like this -- to engage a group of people that don't subscribe the mold of customers that we are used to dealing with and build relationships.  Everyone has something useful to say, engaging academic conversation, and great advice.  It has served me a lot of good.

Next up is the PDC -- I'm excited to start talking about ASP.NET "Whidbey" and Visual Studio "Whidbey."  One thing that the PHP folks kept saying was that it was good enough for most things.  I understand that completely -- "if it ain't broke, why fix it."  And it goes farther than that with PHP.  That being said, we've done a lot of work with the new platform and tools that make pain that our developers and potentially their developers face everyday.  I encourage everyone to read up on "Whidbey" once the details go public next week and at the very least, give it try.  You might find a new perspective too, just like I did this week.