Tips and tricks on developing web sites

AMP package or Manual Install?

If you are going to make a Web Development Server, you need to decide whether you want to install each component of Apache, MySQL and PHP (AMP) or use a bundle to do it. A bundle does most of the hard work for you plus adds a bunch of other handy tools. XAMPP by Bitnami is a great AMP bundle. If you download it at apachefriends you will likely get the most commonly used versions of AMP. It’s free and works well. If If you are new to setting up Web Servers, a bundle is the easiest way to get started.

One thing to consider before you use a bundle, is how identical does it need to be to your production server? I am assuming that you are not going to try and host the production Web Site from your own network. That’s usually a disaster waiting to happen. You can get really low-cost AMP hosting from reputable providers like Web Hosting Canada (whc.ca). They can also handle authorized SSL for you so you have a secure site. They will let you host add-on domains under a single account and don’t charge extra for that. You will get domain email accounts and a ton of extra features. When I first started doing web design I hosted my own server, and the headaches that came along with that were endless. When I switched to a reputable hosting provider everything was secure and worked well. I say reputable because there are some really shitty hosting services out there. Read reviews about the company before you sign up with them. One thing to keep in mind is what versions of Apache, MySQL and PHP does your web host use? You will want to have similar versions of PHP and MySQL (MariaDB). They don’t have to be identical but should be very close in version numbers.

If you want your development and production environments to be the same, you should install Apache, MySQL and PHP individually.