Local Mac WordPress Development Environment

Imagine if…

Let me start this post with the disclaimer that I have not set up my perfect local WordPress development environment yet, partly due to a lack of know-how and partly due to the cobbler’s kids needing shoes. I recently switched from a 74lb Dell laptop to a sweet Macbook Air, and I thought I should take the opportunity to streamline the way I build WordPress sites and plugins locally. Ideally, I would have:

  • All local files linked via SVN to the latest stable release of WordPress (support for multiple versions of WordPress would be good practice as well)
  • A single copy of the WordPress software
  • A symlinked copy of each theme and plugin folder in another physical location (by project, presumably), that WordPress would recognize
  • A quick and easy way to swap out wp-config.php files to point at different sets of db tables
  • Support for WordPress networks
  • Ability to keep my code in sync between my computer and the production server

I am sure I would tire of this if I ever wanted to work on a couple of projects at once, but that is my ideal for now…can it be done?


I’ve tried MAMP. I’ve tried XAMPP. I’ve even tried them with a LAMP. But I digress. All the server setup details get in my way of producing websites.

Current solution…


I landed on DesktopServer after reading about it on WPMU.org, and quickly moved to the $49 paid version for WordPress multi-site support, better support options, and unlimited virtual hosts. The support was phenomenal when I needed it, BTW. One of the coolest features is the automatic creation of .dev domains, so I can work offline at http://lukerumley.dev and move code to production with ease.

I am currently swapping back and forth between Aptana Studio and Sublime Text as my code editor of choice, and there are pros/cons of each.

Have you found your local WordPress development happy place? Have any brave souls setup Nginx instead of Apache for local dev?