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Community Corner: Interview With Eric Van Johnson

In this episode, Scott talks with Eric Van Johnson of PHP[architect] LLC, about writing for the php[architect] magazine, the talk submissions process for php[tek], and why you should have a subscription to php[architect].

Interview With Eric Van Johnson


Note: this transcript was transcribed and then edited for clarity and to make it easier to read.

Scott Keck-Warren: Hello Developers, and welcome to episode one of the PHP Architect Community Corner, where we have conversations with members of the PHP community and the technology community at large. I’m your host, Scott Keck-Warren.

Today we’re talking with Eric Van Johnson about submitting articles to the php[architect] magazine, the selection process for talks at php[tek] 2024, and the benefits of having a subscription to the php[architect] magazine.

Eric Van Johnson is one of the minds behind php[architect] LLC. Described as loud and passionate about the PHP programming language, he has been known to record a podcast or two, or maybe even three. Powered by scotch and hope, you can follow Eric on Twitter @shocm / Mastdon

Thank you, Eric, for finding time to talk with us today.


Eric Van Johnson: Scott, thanks for taking the time to talk to me, I appreciate it.

Scott Keck-Warren: Absolutely!


Writing for php[architect]


Scott Keck-Warren: I know that the php[architect] magazine is a magazine made by the community for the community, and you’re constantly looking for contributors to help write articles. If I had an idea for an article, what would the process be?

Eric Van Johnson: Right? Great question. I appreciate you asking.

It’s really meant to be as least stressful as we can be. Essentially, there’s just so much good information out there that we as developers, hold onto, and we want to make sure everybody has an outlet to share that because it’s just nonstop. You know, our industry is always changing. There’s always new things emerging, how we do things. There’s no one right way to do things. So everybody has, you know, a thought or an understanding or knowledge of something.


If you’re interested in contributing to php[architect] the magazine. You just simply reach out to us and it can be as casual as, “Hey, I have an idea for an article. Is this something you would be interested in?” We’re pretty straightforward with you. We’ll give you a yes or no. Ideally, we like things focused on PHP. That’s kind of our always our free pass. But even if it’s PHP adjacent where it’s like web technology or web development or something like that, even then we’ll give it a listen and kind of talk through it.


Eric Van Johnson: After that, all we ask is for the article to be ideally between 2500 and 3500 words. That seems like a lot but really, once you start writing, it flies by. Commonly, people contribute well over 3500. And that’s okay as well. That 3500 is not the high bar if you hit it then everything gets cut off. It’s more like that’s the sweet spot for us to get it in one release of a magazine. We’ve had articles, 5000 words, 6000 words, and all we end up doing is breaking those out across a couple of releases.


Once we agree on a topic and you understand what we ask as far as a deliverable, you then tell us when you think you can have it done. Now, this is not a hard deadline you’re setting for yourself. It’s just for us on our end. We add those articles to our pipeline and we can see, oh, Scott says in December he’s going to have a feature article for us. Haven’t heard from Scott, so we’ll assume he’s still targeting that December release. If you do end up having to postpone it and you need more time, you just let us know and say, “I’m going to need another month, I’m going to need another two months.” It’s just so we understand if we need to find another feature article for that month. There is no pressure at all.


And then that’s it. Get your name out there, get feedback and we work with you all the way through the process. We appreciate that you submit the article in markdown that just works best for our pipeline. Even better if you’re familiar with the service Notion( That is actually what we use to manage a lot of the magazine, including the article pipeline. So if you happen to use Notion or you’re comfortable using Notion, you can do your article, right their notion, share it with us and we pull it right into our pipeline.


The cool thing about that is. As our proofreaders and our editors are reading through your article. If they have questions, they can comment right there, in Notion, and you should get a notification that there’s a question about something in the article. We do a pretty thorough Grammarly check to check for spelling and grammar to make sure that is all good. And then we have proofreaders kind of go through and just kind of look at the integrity of the information. The goal here is to make you, the person contributing, look as good as possible like you know what you’re talking about.


Scott Keck-Warren: I’ve contributed a couple of articles in the past, and it really is an easy process. I like to talk about technology anyway, so it’s easy for me to hit that word limit without a problem. It’s shocking how easy it is to just blow right past it, and then have to start cutting back stuff out of it.


php[tek] 2024 Call for Paper


Scott Keck-Warren: I wanted to talk to you about php[tek] 2024. I know that you all have announced that php[tek] 2024 is going to happen from April 23rd through 25th in 2024. Right now you’re in the call for papers phase. How much longer is that going on and what are the details that people need to know about that?


Eric Van Johnson: So John, my business partner, always gets mad at me because I always get this wrong. I always think it should be until the end of October, but it’s actually until the end of November. Call for papers are open.


And again, great way to kind of share knowledge. If you’ve ever been interested in talking at a conference, this is a great thing to have on your resume. By the way. Conference speaker people put it on their resumes all the time. But yeah, you just go to, and there’s a link in there that will take you to the system that allows you to contribute a paper.


Again, much like the article, you don’t have to have the whole thing fleshed out you just have an idea of a topic. We have, much like this year. So 2023, we were able to bring php[tek] back as an in-person conference. Really excited about that. It was our first time organizing php[tek] and it went pretty well. But we have a little bit of a different format.


So there’s your typical hour-long talks, which is what a lot of people are accustomed to. But every day we also have the slot before lunch. We have a half-hour talk, and we found that a lot of times people have talks that they really can’t stretch to a full hour. So they aren’t interested in submitting. But we do have a half-hour talk. We have three tracks. So that’s nine talks that are half an hour long. And then on the first day, instead of holding a whole completely separate day where we have maybe like two tutorial sessions the first day, the second half of the day are three-hour long tracks. So if you’re somebody who likes doing a classroom sort of learning experience and sharing a big interactive sort of talk that might be the solution for you.


Scott Keck-Warren: The half-hour-long tracks were really nice last year because they seemed to hit just as I was getting ready for a break and it allowed for talks that weren’t as tiring. I didn’t want to commit myself to an hour’s worth of stuff when my blood sugar was hitting the lowest point.


Is there something specific you all are looking for as you go through the talk submissions? Or is it just kind of like whatever feels best right now?


Eric Van Johnson: So I come to it from the angle of is this a topic I’d want to hear about? Some of the feedback we got from this year’s conference was that there weren’t enough advanced talks and we are kind of trying to keep an extra eye out for more advanced talks. You can rank what you think your talk is from easy to advanced. We don’t want to bury the conference with advanced talks, because then we’d hear the other thing the people coming and saying, “Oh, this was way over my head. I wasn’t able to get anything.” So we are looking for more advanced talks again. Obviously, PHP-specific topics bubble up pretty quick, but we do soft talks and adjacent web technology talks like JavaScript. We had a few JavaScript talks this year.


Eric Van Johnson: Much like the article, anything that you find interesting that you think others would find interesting. Submit it. You can submit multiple talks. Matter of fact, if you submit multiple talks and more than one gets selected. It’s a much higher probability that you’ll make the final round because if we can get a speaker to give multiple talks, it helps us with planning and coordination because we have less speakers to have to manage.


And so everybody understands the process a little bit. Again, not a fleshed-out talk, just kind of a summary of a topic, a topic you want to write a presentation if you don’t already have one. Our first round is internal to the team at php[architect], about ten of us, the first round is a complete blind review. We don’t see the contributor’s name all. All we do is everybody gets the topic. And if that topic is something that interests them. Then the second round, we see of everybody who got selected are there any speakers who have multiple talks? And those are the ones we look at first and like, okay, do we like. Do we like all these talks or do we like multiple of these talks from this one speaker? And then we using after that round. Well, sometimes we’ll bounce that round to the team internally as well. And then that’s typically it. We try to whittle it down to the people we’re selecting.


Scott Keck-Warren: That sounds simple, right? At least in the face of it.


Eric Van Johnson: Yeah it is. It really is. Promise.


Subscribing to php[architect] Magazine


Scott Keck-Warren: Is there anything else you’d like to talk about before we let you go today?


Eric Van Johnson: I mean, if you’re not a subscriber to php[architect], you should do so. Ideally, get your work to pay for it. We consider it continual education. And that is indeed what it is. So, you know subscribe every month digital. We do have a print version as well. It’s nice. The print version is nice. I have a couple behind me here. I should have had it here, but it’s really high quality. I like to throw them in my in my car or in my backpack and just have them with me. There’s always a digital version.


Subscribe to our YouTube channel. Scott’s been putting out some great videos. If you haven’t been following, he’s been putting out some great videos. So make sure you subscribe and guess you’re supposed to hit the notification button. That seems to be a thing the kids say these days.

Scott Keck-Warren: I get the digital version and I really like it because I can just send it right to my Kindle. And then it’s on my Kindle that night when I’m ready to read. The magazine also itself is really great way to stay up to date on what’s going on in the community.

Eric Van Johnson: I’ve been doing development. For years, I mean. It’s crazy how often I pick up a magazine and learn something new or something that interests me. It’s just there’s just so much information out there. It’s nice. And what’s really cool, kind of the same thing about attending a conference with the magazine. I’ll go through the magazine, and even if I don’t read the full article, I typically pay attention to what they’re talking about. Same thing with going to a conference, even though it might not be something I’m interested in or working with. I’ll go to a talk because I’m just curious about it. I can’t tell you how many times, like days later or weeks later or years later, something will happen and it’s like, oh yeah, we need to do some event sourcing, and like a light will go off in my head. I’m like, oh yeah, I remember reading about that in php[architect] and I’ll go back through my, uh, my architects and try to find it.

One thing that a lot of people don’t realize about php[architect] if you subscribe to the digital version, you get access to our complete back catalog. So you literally get all the releases from the beginning of php[architecture]. And we’re talking since 2002. So that’s a lot of magazines you get when you sign up for php[architect].

Scott Keck-Warren: Yeah, it’s like over 20 years worth, which is a lot.

The other thing I like about it is there are little bits and pieces of information in there that I might not normally come across through my normal web browsing process, and sometimes somebody will throw out a word that I don’t know inside of an article, and that allows me to kind of like search it out further and get more information. And it might not help me now, but it might help me in the future. So it’s really like a helpful part of the community.


Eric Van Johnson: Yeah.

I’m glad you got something out of it. That’s always great to hear. I really don’t get that. Don’t hear that enough. I mean, not that people don’t feel that way. They just don’t think to say, hey, appreciate the magazine. Got some good stuff out of it.

Scott Keck-Warren: Yeah, absolutely.


Scott Keck-Warren: Thank you, Eric, for finding some time with us today and sharing your wisdom with our audience.

Eric Van Johnson: Thanks for having me, Scott. I had a great time.

Scott Keck-Warren: I have to say another heartfelt thank you to Eric for all of his time today, and thank you for listening to our podcast.


If you’re not already a subscriber, make sure you subscribe so you get our episodes when they’re released. Maybe you share this with a coworker so they can learn from it as well. This podcast is available in both audio and text versions on the PHP architect website and a video version on our YouTube channel. This is Scott Keck-Warren for the php[architect] Community Corner. Signing off and reminding you to keep listening, keep coding, and keep reading.

Links: php[architect] – php[architect] – “Write For php[architect]” – Notion –


Air date November 5, 2023
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