EP48 – Working locally instead of cowboy coding – August 19 2013 – WPwatercooler

Today’s topic is Working locally instead of cowboy coding where we will be discussing local web development utilizing tools such as XAMPP MAMP WAMP and other tools like DesktopServer, Vagrant or even Vagrantpress.


For beginners Suzette suggests they use DesktopServer because it’s easy to install and you don’t have to ruin your server testing everything out and can test locally.

cowboy-coderShooting from the hip

Cowboy Coding: is when you make live changes to a website everyone can see. If you do anything that might break your site, you’re cowboy coding. You’re pulling the trigger and hoping something doesn’t break.

Local Server

So why use a local server?

  • It’s too easy to make 1 little mistake and break everything. Doing it locally prevents you from taking the site down live. This way you’re making changes and testing it out on a local server and if something breaks, it won’t take down the entire website.
  • You get good speed because you aren’t waiting for the internet to load.
  • You can work with no internet connection at all.

Test Environment

When is it necessary to make that test environment? Some sites are very small and don’t get a lot of traffic. So is it necessary to have a testing environment for those sites?

  • Steve: Yes you need a testing environment and you need it right away.
  • If the content is important to the user, then a test environment is very important.
  • Say something breaks, what good are backups if you can’t repair them locally?
  • It’s a good habit. Always do it the same way and you’ll be safer.

From the local server you can send it to a staging server to test out before then moving on to a full deployment.

Version Control

Is it always important to always have version control to roll back to previous versions?

For “casual” sites, no. They can use something like DropBox and have the “poor man’s” version control. They can learn the ropes and then segue into a more mature solution such as Git or Subversion.


About DesktopServer

  • It’s quick and simple to use. You can set up to 3 sites with the free version and have a local working environment right away. DesktopServer takes something that was really difficult and tedious to do, and makes is quick and simple.
  • Before going from local to deployment DesktopServer will go through and “scrub” the site to make sure the links have been changed before going live.

Staging Server

It’s really good to move from a local server to a staging server before deployment. It’s likely there will be issues moving from an Apache server to a server running Nginx. There are also PHP versions that aren’t compatible. MySQL may also cause problems.

You don’t have to go with a company that provides staging, you can create your own with your host via sub domain. If you do this, make sure you block robots or set up a log in page or you might get an angry call from a client asking why your agency staging site ranking higher than their website.
Hosts that provide staging servers:

Other mentions:

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