How to Set Up a WordPress Local Development Environment

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In this session, we cover how to set up a WordPress local development environment. A WordPress local development environment is foundational for a modern WordPress development workflow.

This video specifically covers setting up Local by Flywheel, a great choice for setting up a local WordPress development.

What is a WordPress Local Development Environment?

A WordPress local development environment allows you to develop and write code without being connected to the internet. Local development has several advantages that will save you time and speed up your development workflow for writing, testing and deploying code.

The Basics: What Tools Do I Need for WordPress Development?

  • 1. Text editor – A simple text editor like Atom is a great choice for editing code.
  • 2. Command-line Interface – Another way to interact with a server. On Mac, for example, you already have Terminal installed.
  • 3. Version Control ensures you have copies of your code and can track changes over time.
  • 4. Local Development Environment (covered in this post!)

What do we need in Local Development?

  • Web Server
  • PHP Compiler
  • MySQL Database / Server
  • Email Server
  • Optional: DNS Server
  • Optional: A qay to access files in local environment
  • Bonus: Separate from your computer OS.


  • Self-contained Web Server application
  • Apache or Nginx
  • PHP
  • Caches: APC, eAccelerator, XCache, OPcache
  • MySQL
  • MAMP Cloud – Sync Host data through Dropbox
  • Single-Site running at a time, local:8080
  • Free!


  • Same features as MAMP
  • Ability to Publish to WordPress hosts
  • Ability to Import WP Sites from LIve Servers
  • Ability to Migrate Hosts / Server to Server
  • Snapshots
  • Run Multiple Sites at once
  • Allow custom domains
  • Paid: $69.00

Desktop Server

  • Self-contained Web Server (Apache, MySQL, PHP, etc)
  • Supports Virtual Hosts Automated Creation
  • Import from BackupBuddy!
  • Export/Archive
  • Blueprints (starting points)
  • Custom plugins / integrations
  • Deployment available.
  • Paid: $99.00

Local by Flywheel

  • Self-contained Web Server in an Application
  • Run multiple sites at a time
  • SSH/WP-CLI access
  • Local SSL Support
  • Flexible environments (versions of PHP, choose web server, MySQL version)
  • Extension Modules for better local development workflow.
  • Deploy directly to Flywheel.
  • FREE


  • Self-contained Web Server in an application
  • Apache / MySQL only
  • Version release options
  • Access logs
  • Access settings files
  • Create alias.
  • FREE

Vagrant / VVV

  • Very Developer focused.
  • Requires VirtualBox or some other Virtual Server application.
  • Site Runs within the Virtual Machine.
  • Limited to single site without hacking everything together.
  • Requires heavy use of the command-line.
  • FREE


  • Self-contained application
  • Apache and MariaDB are the only web and db options.
  • One-click optional application add-ons.
  • Leans more towards the developer minded people.
  • FREE

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