The secret success of PHPNL

Warning: This blogpost has been posted over two years ago. That is a long time in development-world! The story here may not be relevant, complete or secure. Code might not be complete or obsoleted, and even my current vision might have (completely) changed on the subject. So please do read further, but use it with caution.
Posted on 17 Apr 2015
Tagged with: [ slack ]  [ php

Jelrik and I wanted to share something (I forgot what it was) during the PHPBenelux conference. Probably too lazy to send it through email (tarring, getting it into the email client, sending.. blergh.. tired already) and most likely because the dislike of Skype, we turned to Slack, where both of us were already in (too) many teams already. Strangely enough, we didn’t had a common team where we both were member of.

“Well, isn’t there a phpbnl team?”, considering the fact we were at the PHPBenelux (#phpbnl for short). There wasn’t any, and we didn’t find any good reasons not to create one neither. Since we didn’t want to clash with phpbenelux itself, we decided to name the team PHPNL. Assuming it would be a PHP-centric team for dutch-speaking developers. Absolutely no thought of discussion whatsoever about the name, the idea, or even the possible consequences.

We just tweeted around that we had a slack team. Since Slack isn’t really made for this kind of open community kind of communication, we had to invite everybody explicitly. They send us their email address, we send an invite. What was the worst that could happen..

Well, after 50 emails or so, we found something that allowed us to automate the whole process. We created a simple site with a email-box and a invite button, and automatically they would be added to Slack. We’ve reached 100 people in I think a week time.

At this point, we are over 210 developers, with almost 50 channels created. Steadily growing. A pretty big success!

Adding yet another new communication media through Slack seems pointless. But it really isn’t. Slack is becoming more de-facto standard for lots of companies to communicate with each teams. Skype is falling down as the number one communication tool quickly, and with all the nifty ways to automate things, Slack becomes a massively important tool in the daily developer route. All relevant information (builds failed, PRs merged, errors from production platforms) can be easily automated and displayed in Slack, and even in some cases, a daily standup is pretty much abolished because communication through slack is soo much easier.

With slack being accessible by so many people, we are not only see the “hardcore” of the Dutch PHP community online, but we see a lot of other faces as well. People we see only during conferences. People who we never met before, but just heard about it from a colleague and decided to join. People who have ideas, questions and even answers. We are reaching a larger community with our PHPNL team, where people are helping eachother on development problems, discussing interesting subjects, learning new things and other ways to do things. It’s pretty amazing!

Interested in joining? Come take a look at