Local (Desktop) Development Environments for WordPress Developers

For WordPress developers it is usually preferable to develop your web sites offline on a local server.

It is advantageous to develop locally for a number of reasons.

Linux, Mac and Window all have web servers built in, you can actually run WordPress on a MAC without any additional software, it just requires a database configuration and PHP -S.

However, there are a few systems that developers can use to quickly set up development environments on desktop and laptop computers

Here is a list of some development environments I have used.

License Name URL
Paid Desktop server https://serverpress.com
Paid Flywheel https://getflywheel.com
Paid Codekit https://codekitapp.com
Free AMPPS https://www.ampps.com
Free MAPPS & MAMPs Pro https://www.mamp.info/en
Free XAMPP https://www.apachefriends.org
Free Bitnami https://bitnami.com
Free Netbeans https://netbeans.org/
Free Nodes https://nodejs.org/
Free PHP -S https://secure.php.net
(Usually installed on your operating system)
 Paid VMWare  https://www.vmware.com
 Free VirtualBox https://www.virtualbox.org
Free Roots https://roots.io/trellis/


Desktop Server.


Desktop Server is available for Mac and Windows.
URL: Desktop Server

This is a development environment that I use for all of my development.

Desktop Server provides a real environment that allows me to develop on my Mac. 

By this I mean that I have access to all the feature you’d expect (MariaDB , WordPress and PHP).Desktop server use a minimalist interface.

 WordPress templates allow you to create different versions or prebuilt WordPress instances, Command line (CLI), Internet Sharing, developer plugins ( Debug and trace, Dreamweaver support, DS-Cli, InnoDB Auto convert, Local SSL, Mailbox viewer, Mailbox viewer, Ngrok Integration) Live site development.

Getting a WordPress instance stared to get developing takes a few seconds at most.

Desktop Server requires your password to start and stop the local services.For live server site development, Desktop Server originally depended on All in One Migration Plugin or Duplicator WordPress plugins to deploy to live.Desktop server now has its extension of live deployment called “Direct Deploy” which you can use to update the live site. Direct Deploy allows the update to live in a more one step manner than when using All in One Migration or Duplicator which requires you to save a back then upload to your server.

Local By FlyWheel


Local By FlyWheel is available for Mac and Windows.
URL: Local By FlyWheel

Local By Flywheel Local.
Local By Flywheel is available in a free version that allows
The USP was that it was the most attractive desktop server environment at the time and does have a very attractive interface.

Local by FlyWheel use a VirtualBox virtual machine that allows you to select the Web server, PHP and Linux versions that wish to run your WordPress environment in.

There is a live development mode built in the UI that can deploy live sites to the FlyWheel cloud.
Local by Flywheel is a pretty nice Development tool.
Local by Flywheel allows you to build up to five websites.


By Oracle.


VirtualBox is available for Windows and Mac
URL: VirtualBox

This is a virtual machine used by many developers in can also be used for Local WordPress development.
There are many ways to use Virutalbox for WordPress development.
You could use a prebuild Linux image and use Debian Package manager to install web server, database and PHP version and build then install WordPress.

The simplest method when using Virtualbox is is to download one of the many prebuilt images for WordPress.
You can find hundreds of images at https://www.osboxes.org/

I love using VirtualBox, but I’d only recommend this for very technically minded people as it takes a lot of management.
It’s is a good thing that VirtualBox is updated regularly.
It’s seems that the update warning is shown every few days, but when I open my environment intent on designing, the last thing I want when I am in creative mode is to start doing technical tasks like updating programs and backups.

VirtualBox is very stable but needs a fair bit of setup as it is intended to allow the creation of virtual machines that can be used for almost anything

VMWARE Personal Desktop.



VMware make virtual machine software for virtually all operating environments and are huge in the virtualization world for enterprises and companies world wide.

Of the many VMware virtualisation technologies, VMWare personal desktop is an ideal system for local WordPress development.

For local development one of the following VMware can be used

Fusion for Mac, Workstation Player for Windows,    Workstation Player for Linux, Fusion Pro for Mac,  Workstation Pro for Windows, Workstation Pro for Linux.VMWARE requires good technical knowledge to setup, but you can find many prebuilt images to get your local development environment working quickly.


By Oracle.


MySQL, MariaDB, Apache2
URL: Bitnami

Bitnami provides a large set of virtual environments that can be used for development.  These include WordPress, WordPress Multi site, Drupal,  Joomla, Moodle, phpBB and a whole bunch of Wiki’s and more.  There are many environments – checkout the Bitnami Apps at https://bitnami.com/stacks

These include Cloud deployments, Container (Dockers, Kubernetes, and Local desktop). 

You can build your LAMP stack on a Bitnami server or use one of the many prebuilt images for VMWare player or VirtualBox

Netbeans IDE

IT technology terms especially in WebDev can get confusing.  If someone mentions  an IDE when speaking about development, you may think about a sophisticated text editor that recognise the tags of HTML  or the brackets  in PHP or C code and function structures.

NetBeans is an older IDE but it incorporates an entire runtime environment.

NetBeans is probably the original integrated local development environment.   

NetBean is a container  system that allows you to do everything from programming HTML, C++, PHP, Java and CSS, SASS, SCSS & HTML5.

Because of it’s extensibility  NetBeans can appear to  quite complex ay first  but it’s worth the time as it you do everthing from within the container which will greatly enhance your  Workflow.

If you wanted to design a custom theme for WordPress, Netbeans could be considered overkill, but then it is a real developers tool.

NetBean has around 1100 plugins, it can be use for almost any development work.

NetBeans was most popular under it’s former License under the Oracle flagship brand. 

NetBean gifted to Apache foundation this year. 

I am not sure what this means for the future of NetBeans, but I still harbour fond memories  for the old Java based IDE and development platform.