UPDATE: I have included another WordPress-only local environment bundle called Instant WordPress. Like Local by Flywheel, this local environment bundle is also free. In addition, I noticed that the entry has been cut short, therefore I would have to rewrite the entire entry again.
Building Local WordPress-only Sites is Fun!
It’s been a long while since I presented the last OMAKE using your local environment. In general, I introduced the AMP Stacks in which you can turn your computer into a live development server that simulates your web server. Using a local environment stack is very helpful when you build and test your sites and apps without breaking anything while being live in the open web.
But, just like every piece of technology that we would normally own, there are always limits. Just like my laptop with its very small and limited internal hard drive, installing an AMP stack may be space consuming, especially with all the pre-installed scripts (if any) are included, as well as support for different server-side languages like PHP and others. You won’t have any more room to install other important stuff like Python support, Ruby support, PHP support, and everything else related.
For example, what if you want to just build WordPress-powered sites and not even bother with all the extra scripts included with the AMP stack that you have now? Rather than doing something somewhat careless by removing the rest of the pre-installed scripts manually, leaving a slew of errors and other weird things still lingering in your system, why not just uninstall your current AMP stack and settle for lighter, smaller local environments that only support WordPress and (limited) PHP-based scripts?
Let me introduce to three of these lighter AMP stacks that were created specifically for WordPress local development and testing: DesktopServer, Local by Flywheel, and Instant WordPress. They’re the lighter-sized local environment programs that you can use to develop and test your WordPress and/or PHP-based sites and apps without taking up so much space and memory with other installations you may probably need.
A small side note before I proceed. I’m still using AMPPS for all of my site and app development, as well as learning from my online web development courses, so I haven’t really tried or have been using both the DesktopServer or Local by Flywheel. Eventually, I will though, should I need to do some important maintenance with my laptop. However, I’m writing about them as an introduction and to guide you with more options on how you can create your own local environment (without worrying about your computer’s web space and RAM).
A lot of professional WordPress web developers highly recommend DesktopServer. According to the site, it claims that this local environment bundle is the only AMP stack specifically optimized for WordPress development, but you know, we all beg to differ.
There are two versions of DesktopServer: their free standard server and their premium version. I’m pretty sure that whenever you read or hear “standard” and “premium,” you’re very sure that there are more features and support for the premium version than that of the standard version. After all, premium versions usually mean you would have to pay for its entire bundle.
The free standard version enables you to do the following for your WordPress local development:
- cross-platform for both Windows and Mac
- includes Apache server
- includes PHP 5.5 support
- includes MySQL Server
- WordPress software is automatically installed.
- includes domain mapping
- includes Xdebug
- virtual hosts are automatically installed
- the ability to copy existing WordPress sites
- you can use the standard version for 3 sites
That’s pretty much it. If you’re not as tech-savvy as a pro WP developer, such as support for multisites, exporting and archiving, or if you want to use this bundle forever (as in more than 3 sites), then you would have to purchase their premium version, which costs almost $100 a year.
Take a look at all the other features included in the premium version, and if it has what you need for your projects, you might consider purchasing a yearly subscription. But, if you are a hobbyist or a student, DesktopServer may not be for you because of the costs.
Fortunately, you’ve got other options to check out. Keep on reading.
Local by Flywheel
Some years ago, there was a potential WordPress-specific AMP stack that was gaining popularity among developers known as Pressmatic. I actually thought considering downloading (purchasing) a copy of Pressmatic for my upcoming local WordPress development projects at one point, but you know, I’m short of money. Then, sometime late of last year, I read that Pressmatic development had halted for business reasons.
Around December of 2016, news came that new WordPress-specific web hosting service, Flywheel, acquired the rights to Pressmatic. Some months later, it was re-released with a new name: Local by Flywheel. Because this AMP stack is refreshingly new from the past roots of Pressmatic, this means that it is currently going through something that I may call a test run.
So in short, there are plenty of features, much more features than the standard version of DesktopServer, such as multisite support, site cloning, import and export, mailcatcher, and many more. All of these goodies, plus your barebones local environment server, are all for free.
Currently, Local by Flywheel is going through a development period of a gold version (their version of the premium version), but the previewed features are more suited for convenience rather than required functions for development. For instance, remote development, offsite backups, and one-click transferring from your local environment to your Flywheel hosting account are some of the features mentioned for their upcoming gold version. There is also a mention in which you can get the gold version of Local by Flywheel at a discounted price if you purchase hosting from Flywheel.
There is no announcement deadline on when the release of the gold version will come out, however, you’ve got more than plenty enough capabilities with their free version as a start.
I had to include Instant WordPress in this article because I figured that this is one of the first legacy WordPress-only local environment bundle that came into existence. I thought of going through this in much detail, only to discover that the last date in their Changelog section was back in 2015.
In short, Instant WordPress has not been maintained or updated for pretty much over a year. I did a little digging up to see what caused the one-year silence and found their Twitter account. From the looks of the tweets, the team behind the bundle were doing a huge rehaul of their project, and had been releasing many beta versions for testing. Not only that, they have been keeping up with the updates and had been a lot more active during the early months of 2017. Their latest tweet regarding the upcoming new build was dated back in July 2017.
I don’t have much detail to write more about Instant WordPress at this point, but if you are interested, I would follow their Twitter account and maybe participate in their beta testing periods. I’ll keep an eye on this and will update more whenever there’s news.
Which is the best local environment bundle should I choose?
Once again, I’ve mentioned before, this all depends on the needs of your project. If your project only consists of a simple blog and nothing else, then it’s best for you to just use the standard version of DesktopServer. If it’s something huge, like a content-heavy site, for example, then Local by Flywheel may be your best bet. But once again, it’s all up to you.
But don’t forget about the other major AMP stacks too, like XAMPP, WAMP, and MAMP, espcially if you would like to learn how to install WordPress manually without the clicking buttons. I still recommend AMPPS, simply to check out all the other not-so-known PHP (and JS)-based scripts that you can use and utilize for your future projects.
Let us know what you think if you do start using a WordPress-only local environment stack.
Till next time!