What’s better than a bunch of free Mac applications and a long holiday weekend to try them out?
That’s the package. Did I mention that they’re free? They’re for Mac OS X running on either PPC or Intel Macs and they’ll make you a web publishing guru.
Actually, MAMP is nothing new as I’ve extolled the virtures before—it’s newer and improved and now available for Macs using Intel chips.
What MAMP does is make developing web sites easy. I mean easy as in Free Beer easy.
MAMP is the Mac version of LAMP; Linux, the popular Apache web server, the powerful MySQL database, and the PHP scripting engine (which powers so many web sites).
Under normal conditions and in recent years, LAMP was for the geekier folks among us. Can you say, “command line interface?” Scary. Worse than Burger King fries.
Remember, spreadsheets used to be difficult to setup and use, now it’s all point and click. Anybody remember WordStar on CP/M? Me neither, but Tera talked about it from time to time—mostly to make us know she knew something we didn’t.
Mostly I just felt she was older.
The Mac version of LAMP is MAMP and comes with five web applications to make your little old Mac, sitting at home, become a web developers paradise.
To prove it, I talked with a friend on the phone, Natalia Nowak (who’s always wanted to publish her own interactive web site), a Mac360 reader who lives in the Chicago area.
I convinced Natalia to try MAMP on her Mac at home.
On Wednesday afternoon she set up MAMP, installed a couple of content management systems (the applications that power many dynamic web sites, including Mac360), and got comfortable with the tools.
MAMP comes with a built in, drag and drop install application that powers Apache, MySQL, PHP, Turck MMCache, and phpMyAdmin to manage the database.
If all that sounds daunting, don’t be put off. Not only does MAMP run basic PHP applications, it’ll also run the hundreds of Open Source PHP and MySQL applications that were formely the domain of the geekier folks (sorry).
Natalia wanted to create her own web site about Macs. Who doesn’t, right? What are there; twnety gazillion Mac sites? Another can’t hurt, right?
We used just a few steps to get from point A to point B to make Natalia a web publishing guru. The first was to download, install, and tinker with MAMP and Word Press, a popular blogging tool (also called a content management system, or CMS).
MAMP is a simple drag and drop to your Applications folder. When you launch it, it installs and turns on the MySQL database, properly configures Apache and PHP.
What you get is a full featured, ready to run web server with bells and whistles and an easy set up. It’s all on your Mac. Have another bon bon.
You won’t use it to run a web server on the Internet. MAMP is just to get you started so you can learn the steps, though you can transfer your applications and files to a web server host (often available for less than $10-$15 per month).
Inside the MAMP folder in your Mac’s Applications folder is another folder called “htdocs”. That’s where you put your web site files so you can view them on Safari or Firefox.
In “htdocs” Natalia created yet another folder called “wordpress”. This folder contains the files downloaded from, da da, WordPress.
Download the WordPress zipped file, unzip it, move the files into MAMP’s /htdocs/wordpress folder (you’ll have to creaate the “wordpress” folder first).
Guess what? There are a few other steps. You’ll need to create a MySQL database using phpMyAdmin. That’s easy. Start MAMP. Click on phpMyAdmin. Add a database.
Read the MAMP documents and the WordPress documents before you formulate any questions. Make sure you remember the MySQL database name, user, and password.
Then point your browser to the WordPress installation page.
On your Mac the URL will look something like this: http://localhost:8888/wordpress/wp-admin/install.php Follo.w the onscreen instructions.
Localhost means it’s running on your Mac. 8888 means it’s using port 8888, also on your Mac. /wordpress/ just means the folder where WordPress is installed.
If you did everything right, you’ll have a WordPress web site running on your Mac using Apache, PHP, and MySQL. If not, check the docs again. It’s easy to miss a step the first time.
Natalia tried it out Wednesday morning and had it running before Noon. She downloaded other WordPress templates and did a little customization to make the site more personal.
AppleWorks is more difficult to get set up and become familiar with all the features.
Yesterday morning she copied all the site’s files to Ron’s (Mac360 system administrator) web server, borrowed a domain name, and her own web site was born that afternoon. It’s live. So, check out NoodleMac by Natalia Nowak.
What used to be quite complex is now made simple. I made my first web site using MAMP on a Mac mini. Tera did the same with her first Mac mini, though the site design was from Bambi.
Don’t misunderstand. Dynamic web sites can be very complex beasts. MAMP and your Mac make the whole project much easier and much less expensive than in years past.
There are many Open Source applications that run great on your Mac using MAMP. Once you figure out how to do one, the others work pretty much the same way.
WordPress is an excellent, elegant CMS. Though not as powerful as Joomla or pMachine’s Expression Engine (which we use on Mac360), the setup is straightforward and the resulting site is professional and works well.
Even the included bells and whistles are free. That’s what I like about Open Source. And Friday.
Once you’ve tried WordPress, download other Open Source applications and give them a whirl on your Mac. Apple’s new Open Source web site is a good place to get started.
When you encounter a problem, don’t panic or get frustrated. Read the documents again. These applications are mature, stable, dependable, and not difficult to configure. They are new and different.