#ApplicationoftheWeek – XAMPP

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.

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By John Clayton

Father of 5, husband to a wonderful wife, cook, geek. Software gardener in the wilds of Lincolnshire. Coder, Ninja Poet (apparently).

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