Desktop Development Environments for WordPress Developers.

After you have been working on WordPress for a while, you will notice that the WordPress interface is quite insufficient for development work.

You have possibility experienced as I did that it gets really difficult to use the WordPress editor and customer for any more than a few line lines of PHP and or CSS code.

Once you start looking for alternative development platforms, you can find yourself getting dizzy from all the options available.

I thought it might be useful for others if I write about my experiences with some development tools over the years.

As I hinted, there is a dizzying array, and I will only include development platforms that I have actually used.

For this article, I will only include tools that have to integrate web and database servers which excludes most IDE’s which tend not to include web servers. (Having said this most IDE’s do have to add on that can provide web server services).

Here is a list of the Development Environments we will take a look at:-

1.    Desktop server.

2.    Paid Flywheel.

3.    Bitnami.

4.    CodeKit.

5.    AMPPS.

6.    XAMMP.

7.    MAMP.

8.    VirtualBox.

10.    Vagrants.

9.    VMWare.

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DesktopServer by ServerPress.

DesktopServer is a development environment that has some very useful features

There is a minimal interface that at first makes it seem featureless, but this is not the cause.

On opening DesktopServer, you will always be asked to restart the services which require your admin password.

The default system starts Apache Server, Database server, PHP and MySQL.

Once the server has been restarted, you have the following options.

Restart Web and database services.

Remove, copy or move an existing website.

Create a new development website. (Default).

Create or edit subdomain or domain.

Export, import, or share a website.

You can create a WordPress website in an instant from a template supplied as a zip file.

Currently WordPress-4.9.6.zip (But you will update WordPress once you load the new site).

You are also able to create a template from a site that you have configured which is useful as you can update the WordPress version and add your most used plugins and templates to save time in future.

There is a sites button on the bottom left of the start screen which displays a page with links to your existing websites.

There are some useful utilities supplied with DesktopServer that are useful for development.

PHPMyAdmin, Command line (CLI), Internet Sharing, developer plugins – Debug and trace, Dreamweaver support, DS-CLI, InnoDB Autconvert, Local SSL, Mailbox viewer, Mailbox viewer, Ngrok Integration, admin color bar, airplane mode, clean import. 

(These utilities can be enabled or disabled on the startup screen).

Live site deployment.

For live server site development, DesktopServer originally depended on All in One Migration Plugin or Duplicator WordPress plugins to deploy to live.

Desktop server now has its own utility called Direct Deploy which you can use to update a live site.

Direct Deploy allows near real-time and simplified one-step updates, whereas

All In One Migration or Duplicator you to backup then restore on the live server.

Best features: ngrok allows you to share your site from your desktop computer.  This is useful if you want to show your client your development environment before prior to making it live. (ngrok is available to download for other environments).

Full database management through MyPhpAdmin. (MyPhpAdmin is also available for download for use in your other environments).

Versions of Desktop server are available for Mac and Windows.

Get Desktop Server  <a href=”http://bit.ly/2GWdDOx” title=”Desktop Server”>Desktop Server</a>

Get the  free (license required) version of Desktop Server limited <a href=”http://bit.ly/2GWdDOx” title=”Desktop server (Free/Limited)” alt=”title=”Desktop server (Free/Limited)”> Desktop Server limited<a/>

Local By Flywheel  Local.

Local By Flywheel is free and enables you to create up to five websites locally.

The USP was that it was the most attractive desktop server environment at the time, and it does have a very attractive interface.

Local by FlyWheel uses VirtualBox VM technology to create the LAMP environment.

When setting up a  website, it allows you to select versions of Web servers (Apache or Nginx), PHP and Linux versions.

There is a live development mode built in the UI that can deploy live sites to the FlyWheel cloud.

Local By FlyWheel is a very nice environment for local development. 

It is limited to creating five local sites.

One thing it is important to point out is that Local for FlyWheel is also provided as a hook for paid services.

If you provide your email address or telephone number, you will likely get sales calls or messages trying to sell you the paid tiers and Fly Wheel cloud services.

FlyWheel offers tiers for $20 and $50 for the agency package, but there are also additional hosting fees. 

The free version of Local By FlyWheel is probably adequate for anyone that wants to work on a WordPress website locally for later live deployment.



Virtual Box is a virtual machine technology that allows you to set up a virtual development environment.

There are many ways to use VirtualBox for WordPress development.

If you have read through this article, you will have seen that VirtualBox is used in the back of the other development tools.  VirtualBox is a very flexible and stable VM environment.

There are hundreds of prebuild images for VirtualBox that you can download and use instantly.

You can find images with almost any combination of applications,  server and operating systems.

VirtualBox images are not limited to WordPress; there are images for hundreds of other environments and operating systems.

I live using VirtualBox, but I’d only recommend this for very technically minded people as it does take a fair bit of management. 

There are updates every few days which seem to be a good thing,  but when I open my environment intent on designing and coding, the last thing I want is to start doing technical tasks like updating programs and backups.

VirtualBox is very stable but needs a fair bit of setting up.

You will have to decide things like how much memory and disk space to assign.


AMPPS is a cross platform AMP stack. It has MAMP, WAMP and LAMP stacks


Support Operating systems: Linux  (Ubuntu, Windows, MAC)

This is my favourite Desktop development environment for WordPress development.

AMPPS is produced by Softaculous Ltd and it’s loaded with 400 app images including WordPress of course.

If you need to test drive any other Web application this probably is the best place to start.

AMMPS runs on all major platform Windows, MAC OS X &,Linux.

AMMPs is free subject the License agreement which also cover the third party apps included Apache, MySQL, MongoDB, PHP, Perl & Python.

AMPPS is a great dev environment pack with useful tools and utilities.

If I am ever asked for a recommendation for a local development environment a WordPress development environment AMMPS is the one I recommend.

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