I love to try out new ways to set up test environments for WordPress, in hopes of finding the most ideal development set up. DesktopServer is one that I found particularly easy to set up, even for non-technical persons. It is a free product from ServerPress that is suitable for Mac and Windows users alike. I mentioned DesktopServer in 10 Ways to Set Up a Testing Environment for WordPress. After giving it a test run, it was so outstanding that I wanted to go a little more in depth for our readers.
DesktopServer is based on XAMPP but goes beyond regular XAMPP in that it is optimized for WordPress. Features that you get beyond the regular XAMPP environment include:
- New support for multiple versions of WordPress – Create sites for current and beta versions.
- Support for WordPress Multisite and domain aliases for multisite development
- Create multiple isolated sites: work, keep, and maintain multiple projects
- Simplified wizard interface allows you to create a site in seconds
- Work offline. Includes WordPress, no Internet connection needed
- Automatic WP database installation, configuration, and removal
- Exclusive fictitious top-level domain name mapping (.dev sites)
- Includes updated phpMyAdmin 3.4.5 for total MySQL control
- Integrated virtual hosting domain name manager
- Includes Xdebug for more serious developers
Step 1: Download the Free DesktopServer Limited zip file for your platform.
This is easy. Go to the ServerPress downloads page and select the zip file for your platform.
Step 2: Unpack the files and move the folder to the right location.
Mac users – drag the XAMPP folder into your Applications folder.
Windows users – drag the xampplite folder to your root c: hard drive.
Here’s an example screenshot:
Step 3: Use the DesktopServer Wizard to set up a development site.
You can add easy access to the wizard by pinning the icon to your start menu (Windows) or adding the icon to your dock (Mac). Put that in place and then click on it and the wizard will guide you through the process of setting up a development site in just a few seconds. DesktopServer appends a fake .dev top level domain extension to your site name and it will only exist on your local computer.
The wizard will do everything for you – it creates the source folder, virtual hosts, server name entries, database and pre-configured WordPress files.
Now visit your new domain in your browser: http://www.example.dev
You’ll specify a title, username, and password, just like you normally would when you install WordPress. You’re off and running!
How to Delete a Development Site:
Since the free version limits you to three virtual host servers, you may want to scratch one and start over from time to time. Anytime you launch the wizard you’ll be presented with the options to either create new sites or delete existing ones. Select the one you want to delete, but be careful, because it will wipe everything, including database, all files, plugins, themes, etc.
Want unlimited virtual host servers?
If you’re looking to set up a supremely badass WordPress testing environment, then you’ll want to purchase the Full Version of DesktopServer, available from the ServerPress premium download center. You pay a simple one-time fee of $14.95 for access for a year. It’s a non-reoccurring subscription that does not automatically renew, giving you unlimited access to all of the ServerPress products, content, and support for the duration of your membership. For what you’re getting from ServerPress, this price is an absolute steal. This is especially applicable to WordPress multisite developers who require more complicated setups.
Once you have the files unpacked and put in the right folder, it is only a matter of seconds to create a new WordPress development site. Now you can take your laptop to the park and get some fresh air while working on themes, plugins or site building. Find out how productive you can be when working unplugged! For more information head over to the DesktopServer product page at ServerPress.