It’s been a few years since I’ve done any serious work with PHP or Linux, but at one point in my career I was a die hard linux afficienado who only worked off of a LAMP stack. I was determined to use as little of Windows as possible, and the idea of running PHP off a Windows server just seemed completely wrong to me.
Outside of one small scenario where we needed to run a demo application off of a laptop for a trade show, I had not really spent any time working with WampServer. However I recently needed to migrate an old PHP site built 15 years ago to a new host that ran off a newer verison of PHP and thus would require me to update to the latest version of the CMS. That was no simple task, as one of the reasons this site had not been upgraded was the owner had ran into errors installing patches and didn’t know how to proceed, and just left it as is after that.
Those errors, it turned out, were because the author had started using eregi() commands in the newer version of the CMS which were already depricated and removed from the version of PHP that webhost was running. After several versions they did correct this isssue and replaced them with preg_match(), however walking through those updates meant temporarily rolling back my version of PHP and then after that I had to upgrade the version of PHP I was running with each major update to the CMS.
Now it’s certainly possible to do this in the linux world, I’ve had a few cases over the years where I’ve manually switched lines in a config file then restart apache to switch versions of PHP. But it’s never been as simple as clicking an icon in the tray, going to PHP -> Versions -> 5.3.28. And even though restarting the service is only a click away the program is smart enough to know that’s your next step and does it automatically for you. So in literally a few seconds you can jump from one version of PHP to the next — that’s pretty handy.
You’ll also notice that the PHP settings and extensions menu are also a click away. This meant when I had to up my max execution time it was as simple as clicking the icon and going to PHP -> PHP Settings -> Max Execution Time -> Choose and punching in the new value I wanted. And again, it auto restarted for me to save a few clicks. This is something I’ve had to tweak more times than I can remember in my PHP days and it was never that quick to edit the value then change it back when you’re done.
There were also scenarios where I needed to quickly verify if an extension was enabled and if not turn it on. So when I ran into my first curl error in the process all I had to do was again click the icon and go to PHP -> PHP Extensions and check off php_curl when I saw that it was unchecked. In seconds the service restarted and I was able to proceed without hitting any more curl errors.
I also love how both PHPMyAdmin and Adminer are at a fingertip’s reach. I’m more accustomed to PHPMyAdmin however it sounds like Adminer is what people favour these days. Either way, they’re both there as webapps and are completely separate from your web directory so you don’t have to deal with the extra clutter.
All in all I’d say I’m just impressed with WampServer and I really didn’t expect to be. So kudos to the WampServer team!