You know that making changes to a live site isn’t recommended at all. Don’t worry, everyone has done it at least once in their lifetime. However, don’t make a habit of it. Instead, set up a local WordPress development environment. You can perform whatever you want without affecting your site.
A local WordPress development environment sounds frightening for less-trained users, but it’s not rocket science to set up on your computer. Besides that, it comes with a few worth-mentioning advantages. In the next lines, you will learn the advantages of a local WordPress development tool and how to set it up.
Benefits of a Local WordPress Development Tool
A local development tool comes with a few important advantages. Here are the main benefits of them:
No Theme and Plugin Incompatibilities
Performing live theme and plugin updates may generate incompatibilities. For example, a button may overlap with the written content and some incompatibilities even take down a website. Test all new updates on a local copy of your site to avoid any issues. Clearly, you don’t want to break up your site by yourself.
Implement New Features
Webmasters always strive to improve their sites. They constantly implement new features, improve the layouts, refine user interface items, and so on. Sadly, not all these actions have a positive end. Hence, you can’t try all these on your live sites. A local website copy or a new WordPress instance is all you need.
Learn WordPress Development
I can’t name myself a WordPress developer, but I think about myself as an above-average WordPress user. I learn how to tweak a theme or a plugin by editing their files on a local WordPress instance. The practice is the best way to learn. Plenty of experienced developers learn or sharpen their skills by using a local WordPress site.
Develop Themes and Plugins
It depends on the level of complexity, but a local development environment is golden to create themes and plugins. Some tools let users choose the WordPress and PHP versions. Test your themes and plugins with as many WordPress and PHP options as possible before making them available to the public.
No Internet Connection Needed
An online site only for testing and learning purposes is an alternative to a local development tool. You buy a cheap host and a domain name to test plugins, themes, and different code tweaks. However, you have to pay a few bucks and you are dependent on the Internet connection. Some local development tools are free or come with free plans. On top of that, these don’t need an Internet connection.
WordPress Local Development Tools
There are local development tools for all needs and preferences. Some tools are for advanced users, but a few target less experienced people. Check each suggestion and chose the one that best fits your profile.
By a large margin, Local by Flywheel is the most user-friendly local development tool. It’s the ideal solution for beginners since setting up a site is a breeze. Go to the Local website, download the tool, and install it. Next, start to create the WordPress site. You are required to name your site, chose the environment, and set up the admin credentials.
The simplicity of creating a new site is a huge benefit of this tool. Users can create whatever sites they want and they can manage sites through SSH commands. Developers who create sites for customers highly appreciate the Live Link feature. It allows sending a link to the customers and they get instant access to the site you built for them. There is no need for credentials or screenshots – just a link and they may evaluate your work.
Currently, there are two pricing plans for this cool tool. The free forever plan allows unlimited sites and unlimited environments (aka different WordPress and PHP versions). The pro version sets you back $20/month or $16/month if you pay yearly. Over and above all the features of the free plan, you get priority support, Live Links pro, link checker, and a couple of other interesting features.
This local WordPress development environment works for both Mac and Windows users. It’s less intuitive than Local by Flywheel, but it’s a relatively simple to use tool. Register on the ServerPress site, download and install Desktop Server the same as you would with other software programs. It has a free and premium version; for most users, the free version includes everything they need. Non-paying customers are limited to manage only three local sites.
There is no learning curve to work with DesktopServer. It’s a matter of a few clicks to create, copy, move, and delete a website.
XAMPP stands for Apache, MariaDB, PHP, and Pearl (“X” means that it works on any platform – Windows, Mac, and Linux). It’s the most famous and oldest local development environment. XAMPP is open-source and free of charge, hence you can freely download and contribute to making it more performant.
The main downfall of XAMPP, is the steep curve of learning; it isn’t as intuitive as the previous suggestions. However, you can use modules to create the configuration needed to manage WordPress sites. Check the WordPress module for Windows and Linux operating systems.
MAMP stands for Mac, Apache, MySQL, and PHP. The name is deceiving because this tool works for Windows, too. The truth is that in the past, it worked only on Mac. It’s an alternative to XAMPP. Practically, it allows installing a server on your computer.
MAMP is suitable for advanced users because it comes with a few useful features for coders. For instance, you decide between Nginx and Apache configuration, the types of caching systems, and enable/disable Dropbox backups. More advanced features like an unlimited number of hosts, multiple versions of PHP, mobile testing, and built-in editor are included in MAMP Pro.
Over to You
There are a few other cool tools to create a local WordPress development environment. Still, these require coding skills or virtual machine knowledge. The above solutions satisfy almost all the needs and expectations of WordPress users.
Have you ever used these tools? Let us know your impressions by leaving a comment.