Chris Tankersley is a husband, father, author, speaker, podcast host, video game player, and PHP developer. He works for InQuest, a network security company out of Washington, DC, but lives in Northwest Ohio. Chris has worked with many different frameworks and languages throughout his twelve years of programming but spends most of his day working in PHP and Python. He is the author of Docker for Developers and works with companies and developers for integrating containers into their workflows.
Where do you work, what is your current role?
I’m currently working as a Software Architect and Lead Developer at InQuest, a network security appliance company. I work on our PHP API and Python backend, as well as manage both of those teams. I also am in charge of our CI stack and implementing tools to make it easier for us to test and deploy code.
How do you use PHP professionally?
I have been using PHP professionally for about 15 years now. At work, we use it to power the API for our appliance, but I have used it in the past to run high-performance Software-as-a-Service platforms all the way down to basic brochure sites. It is generally my go-to language for web development.
How and when did you get involved speaking or writing in the community?
I got into writing in 2011, after I started submitting to conferences. One of my talk abstracts piqued the interest of php[architect], and I have been writing ever since. As for speaking, I started around 2012 at my local user group, and in 2014 managed to speak at my first conference, ZendCon.
What’s your best conference memory?
There are many, but the one that always stuck out to me was my first or second php[tek] (it’s been so long I don’t remember which one it was). I went to get my badge at registration, and they had started putting our IRC handles on the badges to make it easier to identify people we only knew online. As mine was printing out, Elizabeth Naramore said, “Hey, I know who you are!” It was nice immediately finding someone I already knew, even if it was only from IRC, and from there the rest of the conference was much more enjoyable as I got to meet more people. Many of those people are still some of my best friends to this day.
What advice do you have for someone going to their first conference?
Talk to people! One of the best things I have taken away from any conference is talking and meeting new people. It can be as simple as just hanging out at lunch and talking to the people sitting at your table. Find a table where you do not know anyone, sit down, and strike up a conversation. At the very least you all have one thing in common!
What’s your primary OS: Windows, Mac, or Linux?
Linux. Right now it’s Ubuntu 18.10.
How has an understanding of the OPs side of things helped you in your career?
Immensely. There are a lot of problems that applications have that are not just code related. Understanding servers and how they work cuts out on a lot of the time spent spinning wheels trying to solve configuration issues.
How do you look beyond what’s trendy in DevOps to find what’s useful?
Figure out what works for you, and makes your life easier. Things like Kubernetes is super cool, but not everyone needs it. Keep abreast of new things that come out, but at the end of the day, tools are meant to make our jobs easier, not more frustrating. This is advice for all aspects of programming.
How did you get started with Ops?
I’m what people used to call a “webmaster,” which was a glorified term for the person at work who knew how the website worked. Back then, if you were making webpages, you had to configure a lot of things yourself. That got me into working with servers, configuration management, deployment workflows, and a whole lot of other stuff on top of the job of just making websites.