Here’s a recap of my trip to iMasters PHPExperience 2017 held in São Paul, Brazil where I presented “Leveraging a distributed architecture for your advantage“. A talk that focusses on the real challenges of deploying applications to a distributed platform in the cloud or elsewhere.


iMasters PHPExperience 2017

It was a long flight from Brussels to São Paulo and there was a bit of confusion at my arrival how and where I would meet my driver. But I made it to the hotel safe and sound, exhausted by the long trip. Unfortunately no room was available so I settled myself in the lobby of the hotel. I got to talk to some other guests of the hotel and dozed off for about an hour in the comfortable seats. When I woke up, my room was ready. That shower felt so good, it got me energized and ready to seize the day.

As no one was around, I wondered off down the main street to the nearby park where I sat down to watch the people in the park. It struck me that everyone here in Brazil is looking happy and are excited in all their things. As I watched, it made me realize that the talk I prepared for this conference was not setting the right tone. It didn’t had the vibe I was seeing from the people in the streets and I sure didn’t want to present something dull to such energetic audience. I stood up and made my way back to the hotel. As I walked up the streets I got some groceries in the supermarket of a nearby shopping mall. This too was a wonderful experience as there were so many products new to me, especially in the fruit department.

Back in my room I opened up my laptop and reviewed my slides, a modified version of a talk I co-presented with my good friend Lonny Brown last year in Seattle at PNWPHP. I went through it, modified some slides but I couldn’t find the right beat to it. At 11pm I decided to delete them all.

It’s not the first time I deleted a complete talk in less then 24 hours before my talk, but the moment I deleted the presentation deck I did feel a bit of panic creeping up on me. I wanted to capture the vibe that I noticed was present in the people of Brazil and I had no clue how to do that on a very abstract subject like distributed architectures. So where do I start? How can I make a dry presentation flow on the beat that drums the city of São Paulo?

Luckily for me Spotify was the tool I needed to get into that flow. Listening to the beats of Brazil I started outlining my talk. I knew Marco Pivetta was going to do a talk about Event Sourcing so I could skip the portion of segregating application logic. With the outline following the Brazillian vibe, I could fill in the contents.

Day 1: Show time!

A gigantic room with seats for 1200 people and I was opening keynote. Even I’ve been a speaker at conferences for many years, I started noticing that aweful feeling of anxiety again. All kinds of disaster thoughts rushed through my head, while I sat down waiting until the MC would announce me on stage. Minutes were ticking away.


The announcement came: “…and here’s Michelangelo van Dam”. Show time! I approached the stage and had convinced myself I would do a great job. And I did. I saw the counter showing 0 so my time was up! A perfect timing. The audience excited and energized by my talk and the organization thrilled by my performance. Today was indeed a good day.

Later in the evening I got to see Marco Pivetta talking about CQRS and event sourcing which was a great addition to my talk. And Marco was closing the day really wel as everyone was buzzing about the great knowledge they received. We finished the day with a dinner at the hotel with all iMasters organizers. A moment to reflect on a very successful day.

Day 2: Continuing the conversation!


Day 2 for me was more a day to hang out with the crowd and engage in hallway discussions. I got pulled into really great discussions about frameworks, cloud providers and hosting options for businesses. Even though I wanted to see some of the talks hoping their slides would be in English, I kept constantly engaged in sometimes very heavy debates about SPL, interfaces and abstract classes. I even got to give a small demo on unit testing with PHPUnit to a bunch of developers. Before I actually realized it, day 2 was already over and I wasn’t able to see one talk. But the friendly crowd at PHPExperience invited me over to have ribs at the shopping mall and I accepted.


Day 3: The trip back home.

So here I am, jolting down my experience from this event while waiting for my flight back home at the airport. I had a blast meeting the Brazilian PHP community and I’m looking forward seeing them again. As we say in PHP-land: until next time!

Michelangelo van Dam

Michelangelo van Dam is a senior PHP architect, PHP community leader and international conference speaker with many contributions to PHP projects and community events.