Sometimes you need to get a web coding job done. Maybe you’re on a laptop with no WiFi or network access. Maybe you’re on a Windows machine and don’t want the hassle of installing Apache, MySQL and PHP separately. Whatever the situation, you need a web server, database server and server-side scripting language now. That’s where XAMPP comes in.
Downloaded from those lovely people at www.apachefriends.org, XAMPP is an easy-to-install, easy-to-use package that will give you a local web server with very little fuss. You can even unzip the entire thing onto a pen drive and run it as a portable app (although it’s a shade slow, especially if you then run Portable Komodo Edit alongside it!).
When you run the exe for the control panel, you get this friendly little dialog box and a new, shiny, icon in your notification area:
The Svc tick boxes down the left hand side are for getting Windows to run the whole thing automatically. This isn’t necessary for the casual use I put XAMPP to. When you need a web server, you click “Start” for Apache. When you need a database, click “Start” for MySQL. Not a clue what Mercury is, in this context, and FileZilla is there for FTP transfer of files – never needed it on the local machine. Also, I’ve always seen the “Directory mismatch” warning and it’s never affected what I’m working on.
It is nothing short of a gem of an application. It has saved my development bacon a few times when I’ve needed a server at short notice. Running it doesn’t slow your machine down noticably.
More complex options are available, of course. You could have a Linux server sat on your network for these occasions, or a virtual machine of some sort on your own computer. But the Linux box relies on a network connection and the VM can eat into your system resources. XAMPP goes in and does the job it needs to do.