There are many work-flows for web-development and there exists many different deployment environments for web-applications. Therefore, I have found that it is important to have a suitable development environment where web-applications can be developed, validated and verified before being sent to production.
A typical web-developer might either test the application on their own development machines or they might have access to a development server for testing. In the first case, there might be subtle differences between their own machines and the production environment. Therefore, testing applications this way is not very useful. In the second case, there may not be sufficient isolation between multiple developers on the development server – be it database access or file system access. So, there is the possibility of destructive collaborations.
One solution that I think might be suitable is the use of virtualisation. VirtualBox is particularly suitable for this because it is able to access a shared folder on the host machine from within the guest virtual machine. So, code can be developed locally and tested locally on a VM running locally. The VM images themselves can be set up by the system admin to be a complete clone of the production environment. In this case, the test environment approximates the final deployment environment while there is enough isolation to avoid clobbering each others’ work.
The only catch would be the required additional computing resources. However, most modern computers are able to handle virtualisation very well. In fact, I began using virtualisation in 2004 and have no complaints with regards to web-application performance because these things are not simulating the stars in the universe. They are just doing simple jobs for the purpose of testing functionality.
So, I would recommend the use of VirtualBox for development purposes.