Using AMPPS to Preview LMSs and CMSs
AMPPS is a free implementation of a web server that you run on your PC or small server that include an Apache web server, MySQL, PHP, Perl, Python, and Softaculous auto-installer. Okay, that sentence was for the geeks among us – you don’t really need to know what all of those tools do to run it. What this means in lay speak if that you can set up a web server and load over 400 web based applications on it to try them out, or even to deploy them on the Internet (I’ll explain both uses in this article). For us this means that we can set up a test server to try out thirty or so Learning Management and Course Management systems on our home or work computer without having to call the IT people.
Download and Install AMPPS
So the first step to using AMPPS is to download it from https://www.ampps.com/downloads and install it. AMPPS is available for Windows, MAC OS , and Linux. The install is pretty straight forewrd and uneventful, but you can find videos at https://www.ampps.com/demo and installation instructions at http://www.ampps.com/wiki/Install.
Once you run AMPPS from your Windows or Linux menu or from the MAC Dock or Launchpad you will see the AMPPS logo in the system tray. Click that logo to bring up the menu. In this menu You’ll see four icons across the top, Options (settings), Localhost (which shows your home page or your installed applications running on your server, Home, and Admin from left to right.
This menu also shows the status of the three servers, which will hopefully all read “running”. Beneath that are any system messages such as that the servers were started or that they shut down.
Installing an APP
The Admin Panel is mostly just where you go to set passwords, check to see if an application or server is installed, and other assorted maintenance stuff. The icon we are concerned with here is the one that leads to the Home screen.
This screenshot is a little small, but feel free to zoom it up. Here I have selected Moodle from the menu to the left of the screen and it supplies me with an overview and a button to install it. This is an auto-install, you don’t have to do anything but watch a little bar move across the screen. There are also screenshots and demo sites available if you would like to see more of what you are getting into.
You can install more than one application at a time. If you do your applications will end up in their own folders — for example Moodle would be opened in your web browser at http://localhost/moodle. The installer pre-configures everything for you and allows you to choose an admin login name and password.
From here you can modify your web app just to see how it works, or you can go full blown and set up an operational site for your students to use live. I won’t get into details about how to do that here; I’ll save that for another blog. If you can’t wait for that feel free to drop me a line and I’ll send you instructions.