First look: Zend's PHP developer cloud
Zend Developer Cloud woos PHP developers with enterprise-grade development features, snapshots for easy recovery and project sharing, and the promise of single-click cloud deployment
Your ZDC home page is a sort of management console all to itself. From there you can change your container's name, reset it (which deletes all applications from the container, returning it to the state just after its creation), alter passwords, and add or remove applications. You can "push" your application into a ZDC container either via Git or SFTP (secure FTP). If you use Git, your home page provides a link to the Git server repository associated with your container.
Before you create a PHP Web application from scratch and upload it to your container for testing, you might first explore Zend Developer Cloud's gallery of available PHP Web application templates, which could help jump-start your project. At the time of this writing, the gallery included eight templates, ranging from an empty PHP application to the well-known CMS platforms Joomla and Drupal, the blog platform WordPress, the Magneto eCommerce system, and the phpBB bulletin-board application. A single button-click will install the template into your container, saving you the time you'd spend downloading, unpacking, creating directory structures, and so on.
ZDC's snapshot capability is possibly its most powerful feature. Available from your ZDC admin page, the snapshot button lets you capture your container's current state. Snapshots are saved with an associated time stamp, as well as user-defined name and description.
The snapshot captures not only the file contents of your container -- that is, an image of your container's file system -- it also saves your container's configuration settings and database content. Consequently, the snapshot feature can be used as a backup or checkpoint tool. If you're about to make a substantial change to your application and you want to leave open the possibility to revert to an earlier version, take a snapshot. When the snapshot is completed, it appears on a list displayed on your ZDC home page. Next to each snapshot entry, you'll find a revert button. Click it, and your container's current content will be overwritten with that of the snapshot.
In addition, an URL is associated with every snapshot. If you need to share the work you've done with a cohort -- perhaps you need a friend to track a particularly difficult bug that's eluded you -- but don't want to put your development on hold while waiting for his or her assistance, you can send the URL to your friend and continue working while he or she executes the snapshot and diagnoses the problem. This, of course, requires that your friend also have an account with Zend Developer Cloud.
Finally, if you're doing development for a client and you've built several variations of a particular feature, you can take snapshots of each and email the links to your client, who can launch every version, compare the implementations, and provide feedback.
When you log into your Zend Developer Cloud account, you're taken to a management page. From there, you can access (among other things) the dashboard of the Zend Server instance associated with your container. Zend Server provides a wealth of configurable features, as well as excellent debugging and tracing capabilities.