Tighten @ Laracon 2018: a Recap

July 25 and 26 were big days for the Laravel community as we came together in Chicago for Laracon US 2018 at the Museum of Science and Industry. We had a lot of fun putting together the Laracon Visitor’s Guide and sponsoring a code challenge.

Tighten 2018 Laracon swag

Code Challenge results

Total numbers for the code challenge: 408 players, 160 of whom were at Laracon; 989 puzzles played, 448 correct solutions.

Congratulations to Matt Stypa, Chris Perko, Jordan Hoff, Andrew Sorenson, Devin Sonar, Daniel Abernathy, and Michael Beck for winning the overall and individual challenges! Overall winners claimed a Tighten swag pack, and individual challenge winners earned a t-shirt.

Team Takeaways

Tighten 2018 team

Tighten Pequod's Pizza

This year, our team got to welcome folks to our home turf of Chicago, hang out, and learn together. I asked everyone a few questions about their experience:

  • How many Laracons have you attended?

  • What were you most looking forward to about this Laracon?

  • What were your top 3 takeaways from the experience?

Jake Bathman

How many Laracons have you attended?

This was my first!

What were you most looking forward to about this Laracon?

I was mostly excited to see everything in person, instead of a little video stream on my laptop. Being surrounded by others watching the same talks really adds to the experience and helps you get excited for the speaker.

What were your top 3 takeaways from the experience?

  • First, Chicago is amazing. I’ve been there a few times before, but I love that city.

  • Second, people in the Laravel community are so dang smart, helpful, and funny. It’s really great to belong to a community steeped in sharing and collaboration and making our tools better. Closing the conference with a hilarious and helpful talk from our own Caleb Porzio was definitely the icing on the cake.

  • Third, Taylor can go a full hour long on his talk and that’s completely fine with everyone. It really speaks to how much everyone’s there to learn and hear from Laravel people directly.

Sara Bine

How many Laracons have you attended?

This was my 5th Laracon.

What were you most looking forward to about this Laracon?

My favorite thing about Laracon is the people; I always look forward to meeting new people with similar interests and catching up with old friends from around the world.

What were your top 3 takeaways from the experience?

My top 3 takeaways were:

  • Patterns and abstractions are just tools to add to your tool bag. Use a tool only when you need it, and you'll avoid unnecessary overhead and complexity down the road.

  • Minimizing distractions at work can be an enormous boon to your productivity. Even small interruptions like checking Slack/email, or attending real-time meetings throughout the day, can severely disrupt focused development time. Arranging your schedule to block off longer stretches of uninterrupted focus periods can go a long way toward avoiding burnout.

  • Putting yourself outside your comfort zone can be really rewarding — I still remember my first Laracon where I didn't know anyone and was too shy to go up and talk to people. I'm an introvert, but every year since then I make it a point to introduce myself to people I don't know. Everyone has an interesting story to tell, and I've made some of my best lasting friendships this way!

John Bonaccorsi

How many Laracons have you attended?

Laracon 2018 was my first ever Laracon! I’ve watched most of the videos from past years that are available, but I’ve never attended one in person.

What were you most looking forward to about this Laracon?

The people. Prior to working at Tighten, I didn’t get to work with Laravel much professionally. So Laracon was the first time I’ve been around a large group of other developers who are passionate about the same tools I am. I was also really excited about getting a bunch of free stickers, and boy did I.

What were your top 3 takeaways from the experience?

It’s hard to distill the entire 2 day experience into just 3 takeaways, but:

  • I was taken aback by how friendly and down to earth the Laravel community is. I met some “big names” and didn’t even realize they were a big name until minutes into the conversation (or after it ended). Nobody was unapproachable.

  • It’s easy to think going in that the speakers are on such another level that their talks might go right over your head. It was quite the contrary — so many of the talks addressed problems I’ve had personally. It’s always nice to be reminded that at the end of the day most of us are in similar boats.

  • Laravel Nova is going to be a game changer. Taylor always surprises the community with something big each year and this time was no exception. As a former CMS developer, Nova has me even more excited for the future of Laravel.

Daniel Coulbourne

How many Laracons have you attended?

Two. Last year and this year.

What were you most looking forward to about this Laracon?

Hearing Sam and Caleb talk. (And Matt, but I've heard him before)

What were your top 3 takeaways from the experience?

  • Nova would have saved me so much time last year
  • CSS Grid Rocks
  • My coworkers are amazing.

Keith Damiani

How many Laracons have you attended?

2018 was my 4th Laracon

What were you most looking forward to about this Laracon?

As with all past Laracons, I was looking forward to hanging with amazing people that I typically interact with digitally—both at Tighten and in the broader Laravel community—in real life. I was also really excited to be in Chicago — it is a fascinating, gorgeous, and tasty city, and it was a bonus to have the Laravel community on Tighten’s home turf.

What were your top 3 takeaways from the experience?

  • We have one hell of a talented crew: I was so proud of Matt, Samantha, and Caleb all crushing their talks, and the team as a whole worked tirelessly to help make Tighten’s presence at Laracon a success

  • The Laravel community just keeps growing! It was wonderful to see so many new faces, which bodes well for the future of the framework

  • You don’t realize how wonderful coffee and good wifi are until they’re gone.

Samantha Geitz

Samantha Geitz 2018 Laracon talk

How many Laracons have you attended?

This is my fourth Laracon, and third with Tighten!

What were you most looking forward to about this Laracon?

I pushed myself pretty far out of my comfort zone this year by giving a live-coding talk, so I was definitely looking forward to walking off that stage and having it behind me!

What were your top 3 takeaways from the experience?

  • Live-coding talks are every bit as difficult and scary as you might think.

  • They're still ridiculously fun and empowering.

  • The Laravel community is consistently super awesome, and hanging out with them is a blast.

Logan Henson

How many Laracons have you attended?

This was my second.

What were you most looking forward to about this Laracon?

Matt's talk - “Patterns That Pay Off.” I love "tip talks", I can almost always get at least 1 awesome thing out of them.

What were your top 3 takeaways from the experience?

  • Caleb is an awesome speaker!

  • Sorry to be negative! Coffee is a requirement to keep attendees there for all talks, I saw so many people (myself included) have to miss huge parts of the talk to go get coffee. Same with wifi + cell reception for at&t network people, they had essentially be completely unreachable for huge parts of the day (scary when away from family).

  • I really need to get up the nerve to submit a talk next year!

Dave Hicking

How many Laracons have you attended?

This was my first Laracon.

What were you most looking forward to about this Laracon?

Putting faces to names — people I've interacted w/ on Twitter, or heard about, or listened to on a podcast.

What were your top 3 takeaways from the experience?

  • Self care is important, it's a marathon not a sprint, etc. You're gonna want to do everything and go everywhere, but pace yourself.

  • The conference isn't just the talks and the sponsors — it's meeting people during lunch, talking between sessions, etc.

  • Come prepared — 850 devs + sponsors hitting wifi means you'll be hard pressed to have reliable wifi. Plan accordingly.

Marje Holmstrom-Sabo

How many Laracons have you attended?

This was my second.

What were you most looking forward to about this Laracon?

Seeing my team in person is always my favorite part of Laracon, followed closely by being done with all the logistics around conference planning for a team of twenty.

What were your top 3 takeaways from the experience?

  • Cookies are a great ice breaker.

  • Good coffee, good shoes, and good wi-fi are critical for conferences.

  • I could use one more day of Laracon, just to socialize and catch up with friends.

Shawn Jones

How many Laracons have you attended?

Three

What were you most looking forward to about this Laracon?

I always look forward to meeting the team since we only meet two times a year. I also look forward to talks every year because I generally love taking in new knowledge.

What were your top 3 takeaways from the experience?

  • The presentations were a huge takeaway this year. I gravitated towards presentations that helmed within our tech-stack but still had a soft aspect that seemed immensely useful.

  • Another takeaway was the time I get while meeting with the team and discussing general topics that don't revolve around code. These conversations help me understand each individual better and get to know them as people.

  • My last takeaway from the experience was realizing how impactful Tighten is to other developers in the community. The past two years I've generally watched the talks and hung out around the Tighten sponsor table. I think next year I will try to meet new people and be more of a representative on the floor by sharing our vibes.

Cenitoria Melton

How many Laracons have you attended?

This was my first.

What were you most looking forward to about this Laracon?

Admittedly, I was just looking forward to Laracon as a whole. This was my first professional conference, so I wasn't sure what to expect. I just wanted to take in whole experience.

What were your top 3 takeaways from the experience?

  • Don't be afraid to take time to yourself when you need it: I'm a huge introvert and I burned myself out super hard on the first day from trying to hard to do everything.

  • Don't bother with the laptop: I didn't use my laptop at all during this Laracon, so it ended up just being dead weight in my bag.

  • Everyone currently has/previously has experienced imposter syndrome: It's something that I'd been told before, but hearing it from so many different people was a huge relief to me.

Nohemi Olvera

How many Laracons have you attended?

Just one so far.

What were you most looking forward to about this Laracon?

To meet everyone again and see the t-shirts, stickers and all the design stuff we did in person.

What were your top 3 takeaways from the experience?

  • It wasn't all about Laravel. First day was all technical and mostly about Laravel. Day 2, non-technical and some of them design-related. Really liked they had a different mix of talks.

  • Tighten is the best team. I feel proud of being part of this team and work with amazing people. It was great to see everyone and spend some time all together :)

Caleb Porzio

Caleb Porzio 2018 Laracon talk

How many Laracons have you attended?

3 Laracons: Louisville, NYC, Chicago

What were you most looking forward to about this Laracon?

Taylor’s Keynote — this is kind of silly, but: in the midst of me really dreading talking in front of all those people, knowing Nova would be released and everybody would be stoked, was something to look forward to.

What were your top 3 takeaways from the experience?

  • Lyft is the best thing that ever happened to travel.

  • The mfs bash alias is bae.

  • Laracon is the culmination of lots of remote relationships. It energizes me like nothing else in my life. So good to see all my friends in person.

Dan Sheetz

How many Laracons have you attended?

5

What were you most looking forward to about this Laracon?

Spending time with my team and the Laravel community in my own back yard. So much fun.

What were your top 3 takeaways from the experience?

  • The Laravel community continues to mature along with the framework itself.

  • Tighten’s decision to align itself explicitly with Laravel was the best move we’ve made in terms of positioning.

  • Laravel, and the tech industry more broadly, still has a long way to go in terms of promoting diversity and putting women and people of color in a position to lead.

Jose Soto

How many Laracons have you attended?

This was my third Laracon.

What were you most looking forward to about this Laracon?

I was looking forward to mingling with people in the community.

What were your top 3 takeaways from the experience?

  • I came across a lot of people who were not developers but were part of projects that used Laravel. This was interesting to me since I assume most people attend Laracon for the technical aspect.

  • Tighten has a really great reputation in the community.

  • I don't dig the single track format. I get worn out quickly from talks.

Matt Stauffer

Matt Stauffer 2018 Laracon talk

How many Laracons have you attended?

2014, 2015, 2017, 2018.

What were you most looking forward to about this Laracon?

Meeting amazing people.

What were your top 3 takeaways from the experience?

  • Nova is boss.

  • Laravel is seriously changing people’s lives.

  • Tighten is bae.

Anthony Terrell

How many Laracons have you attended?

This was my first Laracon.

What were you most looking forward to about this Laracon?

I was looking forward to meeting a lot of people from the community in-person. I was also looking forward to seeing a few speakers.

What were your top 3 takeaways from the experience?

  • A lot of great interactions with people that aren't through a timeline. Meeting new people was a lot of fun and it was great to get even more perspective behind the folks I had already known.

  • It’s incredible to see a lot of hard work from our team come together in one event. The ability to be able to be organized, yet relaxed and engaging, was fantastic.

  • An event like Laracon can be a great time to acknowledge that the community is filled with like-minded people who are all really excited to learn.

  • BONUS: MARJE'S CUPCAKES ARE BAE!!!!

Jamison Valenta

How many Laracons have you attended?

Three or 4? First and second(?) Louisville, NYC, Chicago

What were you most looking forward to about this Laracon?

I was really excited about having the conference at MSI. I can only sit and listen for so many hours in a day, so having such stimulating things to look at, combined with walking, was a welcome relief for this science-loving introvert.

What were your top 3 takeaways from the experience?

  • Nova is more of an admin backend than I've ever seen or dreamed of creating. Amazing.

  • 2018 is the year of the invokable class.

  • People are starting to relax about architecture astronaut conventions; this year there were actually people (mostly Tighten) that advocated for fewer files in the interest of clarity. Premature scaffolding is now being questioned. I love it.