May 4, 2017Online

PHP Unicorn

The PHP Conference In The Clouds

Don't have time to travel to a full on conference?

Can't book time off to attend a conference to improve your craft?

Want to improve your skill set without the downsides such as increased workload when you get back?

PHPUnicorn is the conference with none of those downsides by being an online conference. You can watch on a second monitor while you work or download at a later date to watch at your leisure while doing fun things. This one day conference is everything you need from a tech conference without the stale muffins and jet lag.

PHP Unicorn - Online PHP Conference

A PHP Conference in the clouds

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About the Conference

The PHP Unicorn Conference is an online conference dedicated to the programming language PHP. You’ll see talks from some of the world’s more recognizable PHP experts; speaking talent so rare, we call them Unicorns.

It is true there are many great PHP conferences happening around the world and you should go to as many as can, but if you have a hard time getting to one or can’t spare the time, why not let the conference come to you? The PHP Unicorn Conference comes streaming right to your computer, wherever in the world you might be.

So, join us online on May 4, 2017 for an all-day, can’t miss PHP event and hang out with some PHP Unicorns!!!

What to expect

We plan on getting started early in the morning (time to be determined).

There will be 8 - 10 talks, each one hour in length. Each talk will be broadcast online via Crowdcast in high quality video and audio. You may ask questions or participate in chat.

Since this is the first conference of this kind that we are putting on, we don't know how many viewers will attend, but we anticipate a lot.

Watch online
Watch online
Sponsorship info

We are accepting sponsorships for PHP Unicorn. Get in touch with us at if you are interested in sponsoring.


Meet our speakers

Adam Culp


Consultant, Organizer, PHP-Fig Member

Adam Culp, a Zend consultant at Rogue Wave Software, is passionate about developing with PHP and contributes to many open source projects. He organizes the SunshinePHP Developer Conference and the South Florida PHP Users Group (SoFloPHP).

Adam is a Zend Certified PHP engineer, is a voting member of the PHP-Fig, and holds a seat on the Zend Certification Advisory Board. You can also find him on his Run Geek Radio podcast and GeekyBoy technical blog.

Adam Wathan


Developer, Author, Teacher, Podcaster

Adam is a senior developer who has worked with PHP for over 12 years. He's passionate about software design, test-driven development and building great products. He's the author of Refactoring to Collections, the host of the Full Stack Radio podcast, and the creator of Nitpick CI.

When Adam's not writing code, he's winning gold medals at Canadian powerlifting competitions.

Chris Hartjes


Author, Mentor, Testing Guru

Chris Hartjes, aka The Grumpy Programmer has been building web applications of all shapes and sizes since 1998, with a focus on best practices and how to use testing as an effective development tool.

By day he works as a Senior QA Engineer for Mozilla while by night he works on building his online info-product empire through Grumpy Learning. He also was one of the organizers of the now extinct True North PHP conference. Chris is co-host of the popular /dev/hell podcast.

Christopher Pitt


Writer & Coder, Working at IO Digital

Christopher (or assertchris as he is known) is a writer and coder, working at IO Digital. He usually works on application architecture, though sometimes you'll find him building compilers or robots.

Christopher has published several books on topics including MVC, React and Laravel. He blogs regularly on SitePoint and streams about code and IoT topics.

Derick Rethans


PHP Internals, Author of Xdebug

Derick Rethans is a PHP internals expert, author of Xdebug and an OpenStreetMap and mapping enthusiast. He's a frequent lecturer at conferences, the author of php|architect's Guide to Date and Time Programming, and the co-author of PHP 5 Power Programming. He now works for MongoDB to work on the PHP and HHVM drivers for that project.

Ed Finkler


CTO, Podcaster, Driving Awareness for Mental Illness

Ed Finkler, also known as Funkatron, started making web sites before browsers had frames. He does front-end and server-side work in Python, PHP, and JavaScript. He is the CTO at Graph Story. He served as web lead and security researcher at The Center for Education and Research in Information Assurance (CERIAS) at Purdue University for 9 years. Along with Chris Hartjes, Ed is co-host of the Development Hell podcast.

Ed's current passion is raising mental health awareness in the tech community with his Open Sourcing Mental Illness (OSMI) speaking campaign. Ed writes at

Freek Van der Herten


PHP / Laravel Developer, Writer

Freek Van der Herten is a partner and developer at Spatie, an Antwerp based company that specializes in creating web apps. After-hours he writes about modern PHP and Laravel on his blog. When not coding he's probably rehearsing with his kraut-rock band.

Hannes Van de Vreken


Developer, Writer, Meetup Organizer

Hannes is a Software Engineer at madewithlove, open source user and contributor, tech writer, organiser of meetups in Belgium and also a marathon runner.

Hannes is a frequent speaker at PHP conferences around Europe and other parts of the world.

Lorna Jane Mitchell


Engineer, Author, Evangelist

Lorna Jane Mitchell, aka lornajane is based in Leeds, in northern England. She is a Developer Advocate for IBM Cloud Data Services which basically means she gets paid to play with and talk about open source database technologies!

Lorna is the author of PHP Web Services" and PHP Master as well as being a regular conference speaker and writer for a number of outlets.

Tim Lytle


CTO at BeckonCall, Former PHP Freelancer

Tim likes making things, is a lover of well built APIs, and hates the top reply. A former mercenary developer, he's built numerous applications specializing in API consumption and creation. Now he's working on the platform of BeckonCall. He also tweets sporadically from @tjlytle.

Tim formerly hosted the LVTech Radio podcast, talking all things technology in Leigh Valley.


10:00 - 10:15 UTC
Eastern Hemisphere Kickoff

Peter Meth & Mike Classic

Hello World! (well the Eastern Half anyway)

10:15 - 11:15 UTC
Taking care of backups with Laravel

Freek Van der Herten

Thanks to all the excellent resources on server management many developers are now setting up and administrating their own servers. If you are one of them you can’t count on anybody else but yourself to backup the data of your clients.

We’ll cover the backup issues presented when using modern hosting such as Linode and DigitalOcean. Then we’ll review some enterprise grade solutions. Finally we’ll dive deep into implementing a backup system using Laravel 5’s filesystem abstraction.

11:15 - 12:15 UTC
Scaling MongoDB

Derick Rethans

In this presentation I will explain how to scale MongoDB. Besides it’s schema free functionality, a modern database like MongoDB is also a lot easier to scale up than traditional relational databases. I will cover replication, for failover capabilities and increased read performance and “sharding” for dealing with larger sets of data and increased write performance. Each section will consist of theory, followed by instructions on how to set it up and deploy. At the end of the presentation you will have a firm understanding about how and why scaling with MongoDB is so straightforward.

12:15 - 13:15 UTC
Working with Webhooks

Lorna Jane Mitchell

In an increasingly connected world, APIs are key to great tools and effective workflows. What is better than an API? A webhook of course! Webhooks are a key building block of a modern application, allowing systems to exchange data in response to events.

This session gives examples of webhooks currently in use “in the wild”, and examines both when a webhook is useful and the internal design and structuring of webhook payloads. We’ll discuss how to work with webhooks in a scalable way regardless of technology stack; how to recieve and process incoming webhooks from an external system and how to design and publish your own for use by partners or consumers. Recommended for anyone wanting to teach their applications to play nicely with others.

13:15 - 14:15 UTC
Curing the Common Loop

Adam Wathan

Trying to understand a complex function full of nested loops and conditionals is like trying to read a "choose your own adventure" book from front to back.

In this whirlwind tour of programming with collection pipelines, you'll learn how to use functional programming ideas to break down complex code and abstract hidden duplication behind expressive higher order functions.

By leveraging the power of Laravel's Collection class, we'll refactor ugly, complicated spaghetti into a series of simple, elegant transformations, free of loops, complex conditionals, and temporary variables.

Never write another loop again.

14:15 - 14:30 UTC
Western Hemisphere Kickoff

Peter Meth & Mike Classic

Hello World! (for real this time)

14:30 - 15:30 UTC
Code Review Beyond Code Style

Hannes Van de Vreken

Reviewing code can feel like a secondary task. Discussing code can be easy though, if you leave out syntax details. Following a couple of guidelines for pull requests can make code reviewing much easier.

Some code style rules can drastically reduce the mental overhead needed to understand code changes. Furthermore this talk will give some general guidelines on how to give feedback on PRs as a peer developer or coworker. These rules are not to keep for yourself, share them with your peers and your life will get easier.

15:30 - 16:30 UTC
Adventures of a Contract Developer

Tim Lytle

Thinking about quitting that desk job and enjoying the freedom of contract development? Already have?

A contract developer for 10 years, I’ll share my philosophy on contracting, some tips on how be successful, and a look at some of the clients you’ll run into.

While my style of contracting may not work for you, this talk will at least challenge you to consider not just how you’re marketing your product, but what your product really is, how you charge for it, and what that means long term.

Already a contract developer? I’ll give some tips on avoiding the painful parts of the job, setting and negotiating your rate, and one simple way to get great clients and keep them happy.

Considering contracting? Meet some of the clients you’ll certainly come across, a few warning signs and things to watch out for, and what needs to happen in each case before you can have a successful relationship.

16:30 - 17:30 UTC
Zend Expressive Blastoff

Adam Culp

With PHP frameworks being more decoupled than ever, and with the help of package and dependency managers, large and heavy PHP frameworks are a thing of the past. Modern PHP developers now have a wealth of libraries available specializing at certain tasks, and microservices are fast becoming a preferred way to architect applications. But many don’t know how to start, and get thrown in the deep end.

This talk will briefly introduce what microservices are, and how to create them using middleware. Then show how to build using the Zend Expressive microframework leveraging components of Zend Framework, and other libraries, to quickly create awesome things without requiring a full stack framework. Resources for reference and continued learning will also be shared.

17:30 - 18:30 UTC
Lessons Learned After 10 Years of Testing

Chris Hartjes

Back when I was learning about how to test PHP code, I had to walk both ways uphill in the snow to get the information I needed. Over the past 10 years (has it really been that long?!?) I’ve learned a lot about not just testing but about code and people. In this talk I want to share what I wished I knew 10 years ago so you don’t have to suffer like I did.

18:30 - 19:30 UTC
Stronger Than Fear: Mental Health in the Developer Community

Ed Finkler

Mental disorders are the largest contributor to disease burden in North America, but the developer community and those who employ us are afraid to face the problem head-on. In this talk, we'll examine the state of mental health awareness in the developer workplace, why most developers feel it isn't safe to talk about mental health, and what we can do to change the culture and save lives. Attendees will leave with 5 things they can do to make their workplace safer for those dealing with mental health disorders.

19:30 - 20:30 UTC
Building Robots With PHP

Christopher Pitt

Over the last few years, I’ve built all sorts of useful robots (Internet of Things machines); to connect to virtual environments, automate my surroundings, or generally make my life easier.

And I found all of these could be built using little more than the familiar PHP code I was using in my 9-to-5. Join me as I show you some of the cool things you can do, with an Arduino, some useful PHP libraries, and a lot of imagination.


Reserve your spot now!

Regular Ticket
  • Full Access
  • Video Recordings Afterwords
  • Available until May 4
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Our Sponsors


Meet our conference team

Peter Meth


Peter has been a software developer for over 15 years and now spends his days as a Senior PHP and DevOps consultant at Delvia. That's his day job. Peter's real passion is in building teams, communities and software that makes a difference. Peter has been running various meetup groups for more than 12 years and currently organizes the GTA PHP Meetup Group and DevOps Toronto meetup, and helps out with several other meetups in Ontario Canada. Peter was one of the founders and main organizers of TrueNorth PHP and also helped organized DevOpsDays Toronto in 2016 and 2017.

Mike Classic


Mike Classic is a full-stack contract developer with a passion for the PHP community. He is the founder and organizer of the Burlington PHP UG. Mike specializes as a senior level PHP developer and focuses on the Laravel framework, but is proficient in others such as Symfony & Zend Framework. He has extensive experience in refactoring legacy code in lone & team environments.