Your Mac is a powerful beast. Lurking under that shiny exterior of easy-to-use eye candy is full-fledged web server ready to love, honor, and obey.
Your Mac’s Unix underpinnings are well hidden from the average Mac user, but a few utilities can turn it into a power laden web site development machine with just a few clicks. Your Mac can become a local web server with all the technical bells and whistles.
What It All Does And Why
Using your Mac as a web server is both easy and complicated. It’s easy to set up in a few clicks. But getting all the pieces you need to run a local web server would take technical expertise.
Fortunately, your Mac is a point and click haven for easy power.
It doesn’t take much to make your Mac become a powerful internet web server.
But you can get even more power, more bells and whistles, and keep your Mac doing other chores while you learn all about web tools and development.
Most web sites on the internet use the open source Apache web server. It’s already in your Mac and doesn’t take much more than a click to turn it on. Even better are a few tools which make easy the cumbersome technical details, yet give you plenty of powerful web tools.
MAMP – Mac, Apache, MySQL PHP
The only friendly name in the bunch is Mac. But MAMP is a free and friendly application which stuffs your Mac full of internet web server goodness. If you’ve been yearning to learn about web tools, and get them up and running on your Mac, MAMP is your friend.
The MAMP application runs a separate version of the Apache server, plus the MySQL database, and the PHP scripting language—the basic web server tools that make up much of the web sites on the internet.
Plus, you also get eAccelerator, XCache, phpMyAdmin, Zend Optimizer, SQLiteManager, and a bunch of other tools which webmasters use to make sites happen. MAMP tucks them all into a single folder so all that power won’t leak out and mess up your carefully groomed Mac.
MAMP is frighteningly easy to set up. MAMP is a drag and drop install. Double-click and you’re ready to learn about web tools.
Even better, MAMP lets you install popular dynamic content management systems such as WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, or ExpressionEngine—right inside the MAMP folder. They work just as if they were running on any web site server.
At the basic level, MAMP works wonderfully. But the URLs to view your web site creation in Safari are somewhat arcane (but can be modified): For example, http://localhost:8888/mysite/index.html That’.s ugly. How can you make it look like this—http://mysite.com/?
VirtualHost X Adds Polish And Shine
Add ClickOnTyler’s nifty little VirtualHostX tool, and your local Mac web site begins too look like a real, live, fully functional, living-on-the-internet web site. With a text editor and some knowledge, you can create those local web site domain names, but VirtualHost X does it with a few clicks, and it works with MAMP.
Adding a host (a domain name—choose anything you want) is drop dead easy. Click Add Host. Then select which folder on your Mac you want the domain name (host) to point to. VirtualHostX does the configuration, and restarts the MAMP servers to make it happen.
Even better, you can use VirtualHostX with MAMP for local development, but it can also be used with your Mac’s built-in Apache web server (capable of using your Mac a live web site server; even running multiple domain names).
For very little money, you get a lot of powerful tools that can help you learn about web site development, and even turn your Mac into a web server. Wait. There’s more.
MAMP Pro: The Next Step Up
Learning about how to deploy your Mac as a web server can be fun, but there’s more to learn, especially when it comes to using domain names and DNS. MAMP Pro extends the toolset to another level.
Not only do you get the tools from MAMP on your Mac—Apache, PHP, MySQL, and others—you get an easy-to-configure system for managing domain names on your Mac—live or in a development environment.
Your Mac can also be set up as an email server. Easily bounce between different versions of PHP as you test your web applications. Add and delete MySQL database with pure point and click ease.
The Apache web server comes with a host of popular modules which provide additional functionality. Enable or disable with a few clicks.
MAMP and MAMP Pro also allow you to change the port settings for Apache and MySQL for added security.
If you’ve ever wanted to set up your Mac as a web server, these tools get you started quickly, easily, and with little expense, and point and click simplicity. No coding of complex configuration files. No worrying about conflicts with other applications on your Mac. MAMP is free to use. VirtualHostX is nominally priced. MAMP Pro is the most expensive, but provides more options and configurations.
For any Mac user who wants to learn about what goes on behind the scenes of web sites, these are good tools to use.