One of the problems that anyone who has taught a programming class will know is that the worst part of the class isn’t bored students, inane questions or poor material, but, rather, getting started. I delivered Zend’s training for 3 years (myself among several others) and I can say, without reservation, that one of the most consistent impediments to the classes were getting things up and running.
Getting students to install stuff on their local desktops was often problematic. They might have some conflicting software that would need to be removed (with the corresponding pulling of teeth). There might be restrictions of what they could and could not install. Or they might not have had the skills to set up a working environment on their local machine. So we basically had to support any kind of scenario
To get around that issue we started creating VMWare instances. Lots of them. And it ain’t easy either. You have to keep all of the OS instances up to date along with the IDE. And once you’re done you need to zero out the free space to maximize compression to keep the VM’s from becoming quite large.
In short, managing coursework is not necessarily as straightforward as one might think.
If you’re in this predicament you might actually want to take a look at phpcloud.com. With the DevCloud what you can do is set up a container that has all of the example code, scripts and anything PHP in nature and take a snapshot of it. That snapshot includes things like database content. Students can then take that snapshot and create their own container out of it, without having to install new software, manage an environment that they may not be familiar with or do tasks that they don’t have the skills for. You get the full PHP environment without any of the hassle plus some additional goodies for free that you’d normally have to pay for (like Zend Server).
So, if you’re doing any kind of training or class work and don’t like wasting time helping people get an environment up and running on a machine that you’re not familiar with, check out phpcloud.com. It’s currently in a technology preview state but it’s pretty robust. And the cost? It’s free. And we expect there to be a free tier as far into the future as we can see. Check it out.
Here’s a video where I show how you can use snapshots.