Review of this Meet-up:
Forty artisans gathered for the first Laravel Toronto meet-up in two years. Chef's Plate delivered the first of two presentations, summarizing their experience with the Laravel Framework. Soap Box then presented their new offering, recounting their experience with Laravel as the basis for their back-end API.
Thank you to Chef's Plate for hosting this meet-up. Their office is especially amenable to meet-ups with a large central area for presentations, replete with screen, mic, speakers, and projector; plus, very comfortable couches. A significant number of staff stayed for the meet-up, greeting people, laying out the pizzas, setting up the beverages and replenishing them as the evening wore on -- including the ice! There was extensive signage which proved enormously helpful -- I fielded not one complaint about finding/accessing this venue. Thank you for the extensive behind-the-scenes effort.
Thank you to Soap Box. For co-sponsoring the snackage. For inviting Chef's Plate and myself to as co-organizers in the meetup.com group. For giving one of the two presentations. For bringing a number of senior technical people as a show of support for Laravel Toronto.
A theme of both presentations was coming up with home grown solutions when the Laravel Framework and third party packages lacked needed functionality -- and sometimes offering these packages as FOSS. I was especially interested in Soap Box's frustration with OAuth and JWT's, and their extensive custom solution. Might be an interesting fall meet-up talk, hmmm....
Meet your three Laravel Toronto co-organizers: Brennan McEachran, Soap Box; me (Bob Bloom); and David Chang, Chef's Plate.
How this kick-start meet-up happened... I saw people asking about LaravelTO in the LaraChat Slack channel. I responded by saying I would get something going. David contacted me. And voila!
plans are for the new York Region Laravel group (I am the organizer) and for LaravelTO to host one meet-up per month from September 2017 to June 2018. Downtown hosts five of the ten, every other month. York Region hosts five bi-monthly meet-ups. Chef's Plate and Soap Box would host one each in the fall & winter/spring. I will find a new venue for the downtown's fifth meet-up. Also, I will arrange all the York Region Laravel meet-ups.
David and Thomas of Chef's Plate during their presentation.
Having wrapped up the first York Region PHP season, a big difference between downtown and north-of-Steeles is no meet-up host north of Toronto wants to serve alcohol. Downtown, sometimes!
Although it can be difficult to find speakers, my experience is that it is harder to find venues. Once a meet-up date and venue is arranged, it is actually, in my experience, easier to find speakers. First thing potential speakers want to know is the when-and-where anyways. And, with the venue arranged, speakers know "it's real" and are more likely to say yes.
The subject of Celebrity Speakers came up. I said that we are a local group, as opposed to running a conference, so we should have our eye on tomorrow's stars. We were very fortunate to have a celebrity speaker launch our inaugural York Region PHP meet-up. Which seemed to scare off local talent from doing talks. My personal preference is that the first meet-up of the season should, if possible, have a celebrity speaker. The twist is that the talk should be 10 minutes, and then we get to pepper them with questions for the next 60 minutes.
Here is Brennan with Chris (and Justin in the next pic). At their next presentation they should go through Soap Box's history, along with their starting the LaravelTO group -- with meet-ups in 2013.
Another question: should we video (or live stream) the presentations? Personally, I say "no". Not merely because of the logistics, but mostly because it is counter to the idea of meeting up. Virtual abounds: virtual conferences, video lessons, Slack conversations, Twitch. Meet-ups are about getting together. Those who attend the meet-up presentations should not feel like they are props for the video audience. On top of that, there's a subtle dynamic when the cameras are rolling: the speaker is less likely to speak candidly about their messing up and the audience is less likely to participate in the Q&A. My opinion is that meet-ups are about the people who show up!
A month from now, late July/early Aug, I'll have the upcoming meet-ups posted. So make sure you are on the Laravel Toronto or York Region Laravel meetup.com group (or groups!) to get the updates.