Easy local development for WordPress and PHP

Ask someone how they setup their local development tooling and you’ll get a different answer every time. We all have our own ideas and opinions on what suits our needs best and that’s fine. However it can be incredibly difficult as a beginner to know where to start.

So I’d like to offer a suggestion for anyone looking to try local WordPress development – that suggestion is Local by Flywheel.

It’s free to download, and it’s initial features are more than enough to get by. Sure you can pay monthly for some extra bells and whistles if you desire, but in terms of just getting going the free version does just fine.

The key reason I’ve stuck with using Local recently is it’s ease of use and clear GUI. I’ve had plenty of success with tools like XAMPP and MAMP in the past, but they were always a bit of a fiddle. I’m sure there’s other good alternatives out there at the moment, but Local just happens to be the one I stumbled across. So for now it’s my go to.

Full disclaimer, my experience with Local is limited to Windows 10.

Getting started is easy…

  1. Add a new site and give it a name
  2. Choose the local domain name like “mywebsite.local”
  3. Select your environment setup, including PHP versions, whether you want Apache or Nginx, and MySQL or MariaDB database
  4. Decide on a WordPress username and password
  5. Click add site

It will then provision everything and install WordPress for you.

What you are then given is a handy control panel with some nifty features to help you out, which include…

  • Links to the WP admin and frontend
  • Database management using Adminer
  • SSL options
  • Mailhog to capture and test emails

Hopefully this gives you a little idea of what to expect from Local. And if your just starting out, or on the lookout for something that might save you some time, then I’d recommend giving it a try.

Using Local without WordPress and other thoughts

I have also found that it’s relatively straight forward to use local for other small PHP projects as well.

Once you’ve spun up a site, just delete the WordPress files and Database tables. You’ve then got a quick and easy local development environment for PHP.

It also works well with Symlinks if you like keeping your Git repositories nice and tidy.


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