Raúl Fraile bio photo

Raúl Fraile

PHP/Symfony2 developer. Engineer at Acilia. Open-source lover && eternal learner.

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2014, A roller coaster ride

Another year is now coming to an end. I would have loved to write more during this year, but unfortunately time is limited. At least I wanted to share with you the review of my year, a difficult one, but seen in perspective, not a bad year at all. Let’s get started!


I had the great opportunity to go to Miami last February to spend two weeks working for ServerGrove in their headquarters and also attend the SunshinePHP conference. And it was truly amazing. Pablo and Kim were great hosts, I felt like I was at home. I visited the Terremark datacenter, NAP of the Americas (I got a cold due to the A/C, but it was worth it), saw alligators in Everglades, watered manatees and enjoyed Miami, a place where I want to go back soon :)


It was a great year for conferences! In addition to the conference in Miami, I spoke at 6 different conferences in 3 countries, mainly about malicious cryptography and data compression. Two topics that I felt in love with this year.

In November, I visited Stockholm (Sweden) to talk about “Malicious cryptography in Symfony apps” in the Symfony November Camp. I loved this conference. I usually prefer small conferences as you can talk or go out for dinner with most of the people. Talks were also great and I was very happy to finally meet Matthias Noback and the two organizers and hosts of the great Sound of Symfony podcast: Magnus Nordlander and Tobias Nyholm.

In September, I went to Berlin for JS Conf EU. Yes, a JavaScript conference, but I didn’t talk about JavaScript, but data compression and GZIP. Anyway, the PHP community needs to learn a lot from JavaScript conferences, as they are usually much more open to new speakers and crazy topics. The conference blew my mind, so many talks (some of them about crazy topics as I like), impressive venue, light effects and 600 attendees from all over the world.

FrOSCon took place in August, so I went to Sankt Augustin (Bonn) with Máximo Cuadros to talk about cryptovirology. For the PHP room, they wanted crazy ideas, so I really wanted to go there. Unfortunately, many talks were in German and there were not many people from other countries, so it was difficult to “fit in”.

Finally, in May I was invited to speak in my first Drupal conference, “DrupalCamp Spain 2014”, about Symfony and Drupal. It’s amazing to see how Drupal moves so many people! I also talked at deSymfonyDay Barcelona, a great one-day conference that I helped to organize, and the Symfony UG in Valencia, where I feel like at home as they are very nice people.

Professional changes

One of the hardest moments of the year was when I was told that ServerGrove was going to have some important changes in the management and that I had to look for another job. I was very happy with them and they also gave me lots of flexibility to study and work from home. I was lucky to get a job offer from Acilia so I could keep working from home and finish my master’s degree. I am very happy and working now in some important projects for National Geographic and Fox International Channels.

Side projects

LadybugPHP reached 200K installs, but it wasn’t a good year for my little dumper. The Symfony team decided to create its own dumper as an standalone component and include it in Symfony since 2.6. As most of LadybugPHP users are Symfony users, I wonder if it still makes sense to maintain the library. I have been thinking about it for months and I still don’t know what to do. Even though I feel a bit sad about the movement, I think I should be proud of what I did and happy to have helped so many people.

A couple of months ago I started a new project: Distill, a smart compressed files extractor for PHP. The idea is to have an easy and very powerful library to extract compressed files in any format, using command line tools, PHP extensions and even algorithms written in pure PHP. Also, the library provides a “format chooser”, so if you have the same file compressed in different formats, you can get the one that is probably smaller based on the compression algorithm. So far it is being used by the new and shiny Symfony Installer, created by Javier Eguiluz.

Master’s degree

I am very happy to have taken the decision to enroll for a MsC in Computing Technologies. I have learnt many cool things that I want to apply in my professional life: data compression, cryptography, machine learning, human language technology, biometry, music information retrieval…

I only have a few pending subjects to finish it and my final work will be about speeding up an algorithm to clean images taken in laparoscopic surgery so it can be used in real time. Pretty challenging, I am looking forward to starting working in it and see how it can be improved or parallelized.


I like writing and I had the chance to do it occasionally during this year.

I also wrote an article for the php[architect] magazine: “In the Shoes of a Hacker. Creating a Cryptovirus for PHP Apps”. It was also a good experience and I am looking forward to have the magazine in my hands :)

New year’s resolutions

As I said last year, I’d like to keep going down one (or more steps). That means improving my understanding on operating systems internals, filesystems, memory management, hardware… I am reading “Operating Systems. Internals and Design Principles” and “File System Forensic Analysis”. So far, really good books. Another topic I would like to dive in is in compilers. Also, I have a few ideas to design a data compression algorithm to improve compression ratio in text files used in websites using fixed Huffman codes optimized for that kind of data, let’s see how it goes.

Happy 2015!

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