Symfony World Winter 2021: the interview with two speakers from SensioLabs

At Symfony World Winter 2021, two experts from SensioLabs were speakers. Following this online conference where more than 1,000 people attended in two days, they shared with us their experience and talked about their topic. A glimpse behind the scenes of the SymfonyWorld!

Speakers Symfony World Winter 2021 Hubert Lenoir Clément Bertillon

What was the topic of your talks at Symfony World Winter 2021?

Hubert Lenoir: The title of my talk was “How to handle dynamic data structure? In my talk, I presented the Entity Attribute Value. It is a data model we call EAV. It is a method to store data, and I tried to illustrate it with real-life situations on Symfony or in projects using Symfony (Magento, Sylius, Drupal, etc.). In fact, many projects based on Symfony have to manage data with diverse structures. For example, in e-commerce. By implementing EAVs, you will try to separate the attributes from the values of a product. In this way, this method makes it easier to search or classify an item.

During my lecture, I also talked about managing the inherent constraints of EAVs. Finally, I mentioned storage issues. After implementing EAVs, the next question is how to store them. It was the opportunity for me to talk again about cache. I already had talked about it at the SymfonyLive Paris 2020. There are also other approaches, and I mentioned them in my talk.

Clément Bertillon: I talked about how to deal with a problem in production in a distributed application environment. I called my presentation: “My prod is down, let’s escape from Service Oriented Architecture Hell.” In a context with large distributed development teams, you often have several sites linked with dependencies. You tend to multiply SPoFs (Single Points of Failure, the topic of Fabien Potencier’s keynote at SymfonyWord Winter 2021, by the way), and you don’t know where a break has occurred. In this case, how to quickly find the SPoF and fix the breach? I wanted to present my experience in this talk.

Where did the inspiration for your subject come from?

CB: I got the idea based on my experience with a client project. This client had many distributed environments, and microservices architectures emphasized this effect. It has been a while since I wanted to contribute to the community with feedback. I also wished to participate in a conference with a high technical level. I decided to submit my topic to the Symfony World Winter 2021 Call for Papers.

At first, I had already delivered a presentation on this topic to my client. The talk didn’t look like this, but it was a good basis to prepare for the conference. I just did a bit of editing to make the content business agnostic and speak to everyone.

HL: I also came up with the idea thanks to a project I worked on. It was for an open-source scientific publications project with a lot of references. We had to store data without knowing what form it took. It was a huge technical challenge for us. We had to organize how to process and store data that did not have the same structure. I wanted to talk about it to start a conversation on this topic within the community.

Symfony World Winter Edition 2021

How was your experience as a speaker at Symfony World Winter 2021?

CB: I didn’t realize how long it takes to prepare a video. You have to carefully set up the recording, edit, review the subtitles, etc. If I had to do it again, I would probably go faster. In the end, I perfected my video production skills with the Symfony World Winter 2021. The platform works well, and I liked that people write questions in advance in the chat. It makes it easier to read the questions: you can prepare them a bit before answering them. Despite a language disability, which makes it hard for me to understand the person I am talking to, it was definitely worth trying.

HL: It wasn’t my first talk at a Symfony conference, but it was the first one in English, so I was a bit worried. Overall, it went very well, especially the questions and answers. Some participants suggested other methods in the questions. I think I will write something about it soon.

I already gave courses in English on Symfony. But since the talk was recorded, I had the impression that it was more difficult. Because if you make a mistake, you want to start again, but in real-life, you fix it instantly, and you continue.

In my opinion, it’s always interesting to give talks because it encourages you to keep an eye on new things, to exchange with other people and to consider new technologies. You see how it worked elsewhere. On my topic, for example, I did not see before how EAVs worked in Drupal. I exchanged with a colleague who had a similar problem, and we found solutions.

Ready to submit a talk to a Symfony conference again?

CB: Of course.

HL: Yes, I just have to find a subject to work on!

Thank you Clément and Hubert ! Find their talks in replay on the Symfony conference website. If you didn’t have a ticket, you can still buy a voucher to see the conference.

Would you like to be a speaker at a next Symfony conference? The SymfonyLive Paris 2022 CFP (in French) is open until January 24th and the SymfonyWorld Summer 2022 CFP (in English) until February 14th. Send your proposals!