Recommendations for instructor-led online PHP courses?
March 28, 2017 5:17 PM   Subscribe

I need to learn PHP for my new job, and have been given the option to take an online class paid for by work. Anybody have any recommendations? It needs to have an instructor who interacts with students in real time.

I'm told that there's not necessarily a price cap as long as my manager evaluates the course and thinks it's worth it.

(rest of explanation optional)...

Backstory: I was a web developer for about a decade, then switched career fields for 9 years, and am now back to programming as a job as of Monday. I have never worked with PHP before, nor the database we will be using (MariaDB), nor much with linux (we will be using the CentOS platform). I don't have anything against open source, it just isn't what was used at the places I worked years ago. I was most used to the combo of Microsoft IIS, SQL Server or Oracle, and ColdFusion. My manager is aware of the learning curve I am facing, and has graciously offered for the company to pay for some training.

I already had an existing subscription to Codeschool when I was hired (which I chose before I had any idea PHP would be a language I'd be learning). I have completed their 2 courses in PHP since being hired, but don't even feel like I have solid beginner knowledge.

The format of Codeschool, a series of short videos followed by automatically-graded coding exercises, is not cutting it for me. I would strongly prefer to be able to ask questions in real time of an instructor, as a natural part of the flow while learning. At the very least, I want to be assured of an answer to my questions from an instructor within a reasonable amount of time after posing them. In CodeSchool, there are forums, but no assurance that you'll ever get an answer at all, and if you do, whether it's from someone knowledgeable.

Some of my questions have not been of the kind that I can easily Google, and it's frustrating not to have answers to them. Like "hey, a while back you said we should follow XYZ best practices, and now it looks like you're violating that. Did I misunderstand what you said in the first place, or are you being inconsistent, and if so, are there exceptions to the coding standards or are you making a mistake?"

I also want to get an overall view of how to build a whole app using PHP. Really basic things like application structure, session management, security, and site-wide error handling weren't even covered in Codeschool. It was more of a fractured introduction to doing a bunch of little tasks, like validating a date or looping through an array. I want to be walked through building an actual app and seeing how all the pieces come together. I'm sure I could figure out how to cobble something together, but I want to do this properly. My manager is very into best practices and I do not want to learn bad habits.

A previous programmer who I'm replacing used the CodeIgniter framework, but my manager wasn't impressed with it and we may not use that--or perhaps any--framework anymore. So, frameworks being covered in the class is optional. But it would be a pleasant bonus if whatever class I took also used the same platform, database and/or editor as I'll be using.
posted by nirblegee to Computers & Internet (6 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Laracasts is really great.

The focus is on the PHP Framework, Laravel, but he covers lots of other things He's got a Beginner PHP series, The PHP Practitioner which would be a great place to start - and it's free so there's no need to sign up. There's also a Laravel beginner series, if you're interested in looking into that.
posted by backwards guitar at 6:28 PM on March 28, 2017

Response by poster: Just to reiterate, I am looking for instructor-led classes, not just videos.
posted by nirblegee at 12:12 AM on March 29, 2017

Best answer: You might want to look at the local community colleges to see if they teach Web Development of some sort. Seattle Central College does; and they teach three classes of PHP under their Information Technology section - they're called 'Web Apps 1, 2, and 3'. The instructor does have an online portion where students can access the class remotely, and follow along in real time.

However, there's also prerequisites, and I don't know how practical it'd be to take as a completely remote experience - though it's certainly been done. Also, the next Quarter starts next Monday.
posted by spinifex23 at 12:56 AM on March 29, 2017 [1 favorite]

Best answer: If you want a walk through of how to build a website with php, focusing on a framework is probably your best bet. Frameworks are going to have figured out all the app structure for you, including how to manage the database.

I also wouldn't be too panicked if you feel like a beginner. You are a beginner. The only way you're going to learn this stuff is by getting your hands dirty with actual code.

I've always found online communities of coders more useful than classes or books personally. See if you can find some active php slack teams or irc channels. Getting actual people to help you with actual problems is a huge help.
posted by empath at 5:35 AM on March 29, 2017

Best answer: Sorry, I meant to add, regarding Laracasts , that it's a single guy who does the videos. He's very responsive in the video comments and the forums. The community is also very good. He also has videos on creating various Apps using Laravel. May not be close enough to what you want, but the monthly price is pretty cheap if you want to give it a whirl, or use it in addition to another course.
posted by backwards guitar at 6:27 AM on March 29, 2017

Response by poster: FYI, while the Laracasts are good, and better than codeschool, the guy is not responsive. I've sent one email and made one comment under one of the videos on the site and he hasn't responded to either. There are many other comments that he hasn't responded to either. Maybe he used to be more responsive, but in recent weeks, nope.
posted by nirblegee at 8:29 PM on April 14, 2017

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