Interview: Stefan Koopmanschap


A few weeks ago I thought it might be cool to get some interesting guys, which are occupied with projects in PHP, interviewed. And guess what, we got on contact with Mr. Stefan Koopmanschap and he was kind enough to answer all our questions.

Stefan Koopmanschap (‘left’) is a PHP developer, consultant and trainer with an eye for best practices. He works at Unet as (symfony) developer and development team leader. He is a community person and is active in the european PHP community as secretary of the phpBenelux Usergroup as well as in the Symfony community by advocating symfony and as the Community Manager.

Stefan has a wide history in Open Source, having been Support Team Leader for phpBB, documentation translator for Zend Framework and community manager, plugin developer and maintainer plus various other things for symfony.

Stefan is also a best practices advocate. He prefers easy and useful explanations of best practices over the academic and theoretical stuff found in most literature.

Hope you enjoy this interview!

Hello Stefan, first of all, thx for taking the time to answer all our questions.

Can you tell us what projects you are currently working on?

At work I am involved in a big project to build an application that will handle all the administration, provisioning and handling of user accounts etc. for the whole VOiP and connectivity of the services we offer. Aside from that, my main projects are being the Community Manager for symfony and also preparing some new talks for the upcoming conferences.

What technologies will become important in your line of work in the
near future?

Obviously, a big part of my life is currently being ruled by Symfony. It is the framework we use at my work, and because of my involvement in the project it also rules a big part of my private time. Also, other frameworks (such as Zend Framework) take a part of my life for projects I’m working on. For one of my personal development projects I’m also looking into jobqueue/message servers such as Dropr and Gearman. And of course I’m always reading into new technologies to know what they can do, so I can apply that knowledge at a later date.

How did you get the knowledge you master today? Where there seminars, lessons, people, self education or other ways important to become who you are today?

I have no Computer Science background, most of my current knowledge is self-taught or I picked up through experience over the years. Sometimes this is a good thing but often this has been a problem since over the years I have reinvented the wheel. Reading about design patterns for instance I often found out the things I “invented” were really thought about way before me by much smarter people who also considered many more things that I had considered. But by reading about many of these topics and best practices, I’ve picked up quite a bit of knowledge over the years. Combine that with the variation of projects I’ve been involved in and you get the knowledge and experience I’ve picked up.

**Do you consider yourself a lucky guy or did you earn all your success because of yourself?
A bit of both. I’ve obviously done a lot of work to get to the point where I am right now, yet I also consider myself a lucky guy. The amount of conferences I get accepted to speaking at these days allows me to travel around the world and meet the brightest minds of the PHP community. I’ve gotten a lot of help, pointers, code reviews etc by people from the community that helped me improve myself. Many of these I did not ask for, yet I’ve found it very helpful.

What environment do you work on and what applications are important to you?

My personal preference is Apple computers with OSX. That environment allows me to work in the most efficient way. A good second choice, and the one I currently use at work, is an Ubuntu linux environment running KDE. The applications I run to help me in my work are an IDE (Zend Studio is my personal favorite), a MySQL frontend (phpMyAdmin is what I usually use), a webserver (Apache) with PHP installed with Xdebug. The main framework of choice would be symfony, with the help of additional components from Zend Framework, PEAR and ezComponents.

If you could start over again from the moment you left high school,  what would you do different?

I would do at least part-time study computer sciences to give me a better theoretical base on the development concepts I work with on a daily basis. But the thing that helps me most is the experience I built up over the years, so aside from that; I would not really do many things in a different way.

Do you have any special hobbies or interests?

Aside from PHP and Open Source, I like listening to music and read books.

**What are your plans for 2010 or the future in general?
I want to keep promoting best practices, and hope to improve the general level of knowledge in the PHP community.

Quick answers, just answer in  max 5 words  when you read these words:
1.      IE – the bane of my existence
2.      Apple **– the ultimate operating system
**3.      Twitter
– great communication and network channel
4.      Face book – interesting platform
5.      Analyze – important phase of any project
6.      Layout – I’m more a back end guy
7.      Religion – The root of all evil
8.      Programming **– Fantastic source of joy
**9.      Internet
– Greatest invention ever

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