Learning web design can be tedious task – while developing you have to change files, then you have to upload them to the server, reload the browser, check if everything looks as it should, repeat the process. Longest part of it is uploading – it can take from few to 20 or more seconds, depends on amount of files and their sizes.
Better approach is to set up local www server and change files locally, which practically eliminates uploading step. Installing PHP, MySQL and Apache on windows as separate packages is not the best options – it takes time, it is not easiest task, it’s fundamentally wrong.
Better idea is to download one of the dedicated PHP + ApacheE + MySQL package managers – they let you to turn the server on and off by one click, they do not start automatically on system startup (unless you tell them to), they have some interesting tools bundled up as part of the package.
For my local development I use WAMP Server – it’s a small Web Development Bundle by Romain Bourdon. At the moment it is completely free and you can download it as 32 and 64 bit versions.
WAMP Server bundle consists :
XDebug – PHP profiler
PHPMyAdmin – for sophisticated MySQL Database administration
SQLBuddy – simple tool for adding users and databases
WebGrind – frontend for XDebug
If you need different version of Apache, PHP or MySQL, you can download WAMP add-on (PHP going back to 4.1, MySQL back to 4.1, Apache back to 1.3).
Installation is very simple through standard windows installer, by default WAMP is installed into c:/wamp. It’s www directory is located in c:/wamp/www – you access it by entering localhost in your browser. You should see default page:
From this page we can access PHPMyAdmin and SQLBuddy – first one is for advanced users dealing with SQL, the latter is good enough for everyday WordPress, Joomla and other CMS development.
Using SQLBuddy we can quickly create databases, manage users and their access rights:
Users page is not very complicated too:
Running WAMP server automatically starts all services – program resides in windows tray, left click bring it’s menu, where you can start/stop/restart each service manually.
That’s basically it – WAMP server is not very sophisticated, but it does the job perfectly. Simple, powerful tool which will make learning web design less tedious.