Greetings everyone! My name is Stephen Carroll and I want to welcome you to my first post on ServerPress.com. Hopefully, you will be hearing a lot more from me as a blogger for all things WordPress related. I’m usually behind the scenes programming, researching and testing code. But I’m looking forward to making this column a valuable resource for you. That being said, please feel free to drop me a note on any topics that you’d like to see me cover in future articles, or to provide comments and feedback on my postings.

For my first post, I’d like to introduce you to DesktopServer. It’s the main tool that I use to develop, test, and play with WordPress. I’ll show you how easy it is to get started. I have even tried my hand with Quicktime on a Mac to put together a “promo” on how to run DesktopServer for the very first time. Windows users are not left out, as I’ve added large, step by step screen shots on Windows 7 (click the thumbnails to enlarge). Hopefully I’ll be able to answer some common questions along the way. So let’s get started!

  1. First, DesktopServer will want to start as an administrator. This is needed to create your ‘virtual servers’ so that your browser can find the non-existent .dev (dot D-E-V) domain for development. When you point to a .dev domain, you are working on your local box.
  2. For security purposes, Windows will ask you to confirm, and Macintosh will ask you for your password. It’s just a matter of clicking ‘Yes’ on Windows7. If the database and web services are not already running, DesktopServer will prompt you to start them.
  3. The caution arrow is to remind you that running a server may expose your computer to other users. This usually isn’t an issue for users at work or home as they are more likely to be behind a router’s firewall. But if you don’t trust your co-workers or are in a public area with potential hackers, like a WiFi hotspot, you may wish to check your settings.
  4. Macintosh typically has it’s firewall off by default, but most Windows boxes have their firewall on. You may get a prompt from your firewall regarding “Apache HTTP Server” and “The MySQL Server”. You can accept the default which is to keep communications private. This is okay as we should be the only one accessing the development site.
  5. The main menu is simple. DesktopServer displays just three basic options: Start or restart the database and web services, remove an existing development site, or create a new development site. We want to create our first WordPress website, so just click ‘next’ to accept the default answer, which is to create a new development website.
  6. When creating your new site, you’ll be prompted for the domain name you would like to use. DesktopServer will automatically append the .dev to your selected domain name. By default, this will also be the name of the folder that houses all your WordPress files. But you can specify a different name and location in the text below or by using the browse button to select a new directory.
  7. Click ‘create’ and DesktopServer will copy all the WordPress files, create a database, configure WordPress to talk to that database, and make the fictitious host name entries so you can access the website by the friendly URL name. Click ‘next’ to continue.
  8. DesktopServer will finish creating your web server and website. You’ll be presented with the URL of your website, and you can visit it for the first time by clicking the hyperlink or ‘next’. That’s about it! DesktopServer will return back to the three option menu so that you can create additional sites or remove the one you just created.
  9. WordPress will want to know the title you’d like to give your site when visiting for the very first time. You’ll also be prompted to create the credentials for your admin user name and password. Enter the information (remember it!) and click ‘Install WordPress’ to finalize your site.
  10. Finally, you can then log in to your site to see WordPress’ admin pages or you can just visit your homepage by typing the domain name in the address bar. You can also visit PhpMyAdmin to access your MySQL server by typing slash ‘phpmyadmin’ after the domain name (i.e. http://www.example.com/phpmyadmin).

Now that your website is created, you are probably wondering where the files are. If you accepted all the defaults, then your isolated website files are in a folder titled “Websites” inside your “Documents” folder. Look for another folder with the same name as your development site’s domain name, i.e. a folder titled “www.example.com”. You might find that the default twentyeleven theme is an excellent starting off point with ‘responsive’ capabilities (it scales for mobile devices). You can test this by simply resizing the window to make it small and watch how the entire site reorganizes to maintain a high level of readability and usability. We like twentyeleven so much that we even use it for ServerPress.com. Try visiting this article on your mobile device and you’ll see how responsive it is. If you want to get started modifying the twentyeleven theme, your best bet is to start off with a child theme. Designers will want to check out Creating a Simple Child Theme Using Twenty Eleven on Wptuts+. More seasoned developers will want to look into theme.fm’s How to: Create a Child Theme Based on Twenty Eleven for some in-depth actions and filters using the WordPress programming API. Either way, DesktopServer can help you get started fast.

DesktopServer Limited is available for free from our downloads page. You can create up to three sites on your local box with the free version. But if you are serious about WordPress development, then join us as a premium member and you can create unlimited websites (or at least as many as your hard drive can fit). DesktopServer is a must have for any designer or developer that wants to test out plugins and themes on isolated servers or for working on multiple projects. Since creating a site only takes seconds, you’ll find it easy for testing out concepts, isolating problems, or for referencing dozens of private sites you keep ‘virtually’ online. You don’t even need to have an Internet connection. At the very least, you’ll want to register with ServerPress.com for free and keep up to date with all things WordPress. Let us know what you think!

Troubleshooting

If you get the XAMPP logo screen, try rebooting and turning DesktopServer back on. It is important to note that DesktopServer is a “virtual server computer” that will be turned off when you shutdown/restart your computer. To turn the “virtual server computer” back on, start DesktopServer once and accept the prompt to “Start Apache and MySQL services”.

For addition troubleshooting tips, please be sure to reference the troubleshooting section in How to Install DesktopServer.

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