XAMPP vs MAMP vs Native vs DesktopServer

A simple-to-use native testing server is likely one of the most vital instruments in a WordPress developer’s utility belt. Creating in an area atmosphere permits you to make modifications to dev websites shortly and simply with out having to switch recordsdata wherever. It additionally significantly reduces the danger of creating and breaking modifications on a stay internet server.

Whereas many computer systems are able to internet hosting a WordPress web site without having to put in any further packages, there are a couple of benefits {that a} devoted native improvement atmosphere can supply. For instance: most devs work on a couple of venture, so it’s extraordinarily useful to have the ability to shortly spin up a brand new internet server with devoted urls.

In case you’re growing a WordPress theme or plugin, it’s additionally typically essential to make it possible for your code runs properly on totally different servers, beneath totally different variations of PHP and MySQL. With the ability to swap these on the fly or at the very least choose totally different configs for various dev websites is extraordinarily useful.

Most of all although, you shouldn’t should be a sysadmin so as to have the ability to spin up, keep, and tear down improvement environments in your native server. So we want one thing that’s simple to make use of and can do a lot of the heavy lifting for us.

Notice that I received’t be overlaying CLI-based native dev environments on this article. Now we have one other full article overlaying Laravel Valet, VVV ( Vagrant), Chassis, and so forth.

There are fairly a couple of totally different functions and instruments that match this invoice, however for now we’ll be evaluating the 4 GUI-based instruments that appear to me to be the biggest gamers on this house: XAMPP, MAMP (Professional), DesktopServer, and Native.

The key variations between MAMP, XAMPP, DesktopServer, and Native is the power to handle a number of websites and ease of use. Whereas Native and DesktopServer let you customise domains for native websites, XAMPP and MAMP (except you’re utilizing Professional) don’t. In case you’re searching for a free various, XAMPP and Native are clear decisions right here. The remainder of the functions supply paid variations with extra options.

In case you’re making use of WP-CLI in your each day workflow, you would possibly dislike Native. You may’t immediately simply enter within the working listing and execute CLI instructions. You’ll have to undergo their software to open the SSH container individually for every web site. I personally make use of WP-CLI each day and that is what’s protecting me from switching to Native utterly from MAMP Professional.

Let’s have a extra in-depth take a look at these native WordPress improvement environments.


XAMPP, which you’ll be shocked to seek out out is pronounced “Shamp”, might be the oldest native improvement atmosphere round and probably probably the most advanced. XAMPP stands for X-platform Apache MariaDB, PHP and Perl – It’s positively the one native server that also touts Perl help as a serious function, so in the event you prefer to maintain it TMTOWTDI, then that is positively the one for you. Although you can too discover the Perl command line device optionally accessible in MAMP Professional.

Set up

Putting in XAMPP appears simple sufficient: simply obtain the proper installer from their web site and run it. In follow, nonetheless, possibly not a lot. I first tried putting in XAMPP beneath a brand new consumer on my Mac laptop computer. The installer ran effective however that’s about all it did. As soon as the set up was full and I discovered the app that I wanted to run (trace for customers of Alfred/Highlight as app launchers: it’s not known as “XAMPP”, it’s intuitively known as “Application Manager”), I couldn’t get the server to start out up.

I chalked this as much as the truth that I already had MAMP and Native hooked up on that machine and there was in all probability some battle. Sadly, XAMPP by no means gave me any errors that I may monitor down. It simply tried ceaselessly to start out its server.

After my failed try, I created a MacOS digital machine in order that I may present XAMPP with the utterly clean slate that it wanted. Once more, the set up course of went easy. This time the server began up as anticipated.

Getting up and Working With WordPress

SHAMP’s XAMPP’s interface, at the very least on MacOS, is lower than intuitive. Perhaps it’s as a result of I’m used to a extra app-based strategy but it surely took me a bit to understand that the majority of XAMPP’s interface exists as an online app on localhost. From there, it provides hyperlinks to obtain bitnami modules for WordPress and different functions. For MacOS, you’ll want to put in WordPress immediately in XAMPP’s web site listing as not too long ago OS X native modules have been deprecated. You’ll want to put in XAMPP-VM for Mac to have the ability to set up XAMPP addons individually.


The bitnami installer labored properly sufficient. I did should restart it a few instances earlier than determining that I additionally wanted to return to the “Application Manager” and activate MySQL. When it completed its factor, I had a brand new WordPress set up at which isn’t precisely what I wished. I had thought that sooner or later on this course of I’d be capable of choose a hostname like “wp-local.dev”, however this wasn’t the case.

With a view to use hostnames apart from “//localhost”, you must dive into XAMPP’s Apache config and outline them your self. You then should edit your laptop’s hosts file to arrange the area identify. Whereas that is technically what any native improvement setup requires, a lot of the different choices that we’re reviewing right here do that for you fairly seamlessly. I’m not tremendous impressed with XAMPP because of this alone.


XAMPP begins off with a foolish pronunciation (we will all agree, it ought to be pronounced “zamp”) and continues the development with a clunky set up course of, unintuitive interface, and lack of options. XAMPP isn’t all dangerous. It’s been round for longer than most internet builders and provides a workable answer. XAMPP is an open supply platform and helps all main working programs together with Home windows, MacOS, Linux and so forth. Additionally, it’s utterly free.

After the harrowing set up course of, I don’t have the need besides up a Home windows or Linux VM simply to check this out. I’ll give XAMPP the advantage of the doubt and say that possibly the Mac app is simply their weak hyperlink. In case you’re searching for an area dev atmosphere on MacOS and also you don’t want to put in writing Perl, I don’t suggest XAMPP.

XAMPP doesn’t let you swap between totally different variations of PHP, as an alternative it has totally different obtain packages with totally different PHP variations included.

XAMPP Ranking

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Meh. At the least it comes with an uninstaller.

MAMP (Professional)

MAMP (which comes with no pronunciation information and so I’m assuming it’s pronounced “potato”) is the second most tenured native server that I do know of. Once more with the acronyms right here, MAMP stands for Mac Apache MySQL and PHP. Earlier it was a MacOS solely software but it surely’s now accessible for Home windows too. So in the event you ever wished to change to Home windows for native improvement, MAMP is an possibility.

Set up

MAMP set up was a breeze in comparison with SHAMPP. You may in all probability chalk this as much as MAMP’s deal with the Mac platform as a result of the installer appears to be like and feels at dwelling on MacOS. It runs shortly, and really installs an app known as MAMP. Moreover, it installs MAMP Professional which you need to use as a free trial for two weeks however will value you $79 after that.

Getting Up and Working with WordPress

MAMP is a fairly general-purpose providing and the free model doesn’t package deal installers for WordPress or every other functions. You’ll have to spend 5 minutes doing it your self. With MAMP (free), this DIY requirement simply entails unzipping the newest launch of WordPress in MAMP’s default webroot at /Functions/MAMP/htdocs/, making a database. You are able to do this through phpMyAdmin (simply accessible from MAMP’s webstart web page http://localhost), after which observe the conventional WordPress set up directions. MAMP’s webstart even provides you PHP snippets for connecting to MySQL that you need to use as a cheat sheet.


Nevertheless, with MAMP Professional, you get a package deal installer for WordPress (and different apps) which actually makes it simple to create a web site in seconds.


MAMP, like XAMPP, doesn’t provide you with a lot assist in creating digital hosts. Whereas it does provide you with a few choices for server environments (you need to use Apache or Nginx, in addition to choose between a pair PHP and MySQL variations), it doesn’t allow you to run a number of varieties of environments on the identical time or do any of the legwork of establishing new websites for you. MAMP Professional additionally offers Python, Perl, and Ruby through the command line.

MAMP Professional, alternatively, does all of this and extra through an easy-to-use, albeit ugly, native software. You may as well simply swap between totally different variations of PHP, plenty of PHP variations are included within the software however you’ll be able to all the time obtain further variations via their built-in installer.

BEHOLD, the glory that is MAMP Pro

Full disclosure: MAMP Professional is my each day driver. I’ve been utilizing MAMP Professional for plenty of years and have discovered it to be dependable, adequately configurable, and a bit slower than Native. The most recent model of MAMP Professional even comes with installers for varied functions together with WordPress. The WordPress installer appears to work properly and intuitively sufficient. It permits you to customise username, password, database consumer/password and so forth through the course of. MAMP Professional additionally means that you can create your personal SSL certificates throughout web site creation, although you’ll want so as to add the certificates to your macOS keychain to keep away from exhibiting SSL errors in browsers.

MAMP Ranking

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MAMP (free) is unquestionably simple to put in and use, however will fall brief for devs who have to arrange a number of websites.

MAMP Professional Ranking

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MAMP Professional picks up the place MAMP left off and is properly value its $79 price ticket. Actually, I’m solely withholding the final semicolon as a result of I nonetheless have two extra evaluations to do and I don’t wish to should refactor this extremely intuitive ranking system.


Till not too long ago, DesktopServer has been the one GUI-based native atmosphere developed particularly for WordPress builders. So far as I can inform, DesktopServer bundles XAMPP and serves as an extension to the XAMPP server that routinely installs WordPress and handles creating digital servers and hosts file entries for you routinely.

There’s a paid model of DesktopServer that provides options like multisite help (trace: you’ll be able to simply convert a web site to multisite manually), in addition to some utilities and integrations. The principle motive to improve appears to be that the free model will solely allow you to create three websites, whereas the $100/yr premium model lifts this limitation.

There’s extra to this three web site limitation, as defined by Marc Benzakein, Operations Supervisor at ServerPress.

First off, the 3-site restrict. It’s actually not a restrict in you could really create as many websites as you need, however you ARE restricted to the variety of websites you’ll be able to handle at one time. In different phrases, you’ll be able to all the time have three websites going, however in an effort to create a brand new one, you could delete one to make room for it.

Set up

I’m starting to suppose that this set up part is a bit superfluous because the set up course of for DesktopServer is just about the identical as MAMP or XAMPP. You simply launch the installer package deal and mash on the “next” button till you understand that you simply really clicked a button that stated “finish”. It labored!

It worked!

Getting Up and Working with WordPress

Actually, simply maintain mashing that subsequent button. That is the place DesktopServer actually shines when in comparison with MAMP/XAMPP. As a result of it’s developed for WordPress improvement particularly, the DesktopServer app is primarily a wizard that permits you to set up new WordPress installs beneath their very own .dev.cc domains. This works nice and it’s tremendous fast.

DesktopServer - serving on my desktop

DesktopServer Evaluate

For a WordPress developer who doesn’t wish to fuss with too many settings, DesktopServer is a superb possibility. There’s part of me that wishes to be upset in regards to the three web site restrict of the free model. However it does a lot for you without cost that I think about it’d be a tough promote if the free model wasn’t restricted by the variety of websites you’ll be able to set up.

As a long-time MAMP Professional consumer, I do want that DesktopServer had a greater web site administration UI. I additionally miss the power to configure PHP and MySQL variations which appears to be completely lacking from DesktopServer.

Normally, the DesktopServer UI is a bit bizarre because it’s primarily an infinitely looping wizard quite than a standard app. So it’s actually designed for making a couple of large modifications like copying, transferring, and eradicating websites. It’s a lot much less intuitive whenever you simply wish to examine on the state of issues.

Following the identical suite as XAMPP, DesktopServer doesn’t let you swap between totally different PHP variations which makes it much less fascinating for me.

All in all, I’d say DesktopServer works properly for WordPress web site builders. It might be somewhat fundamental for somebody who must develop and check themes or plugins in diversified deployment eventualities. It’s accessible for each Home windows in addition to Mac.

DesktopServer Ranking

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DesktopServer is tremendous simple to make use of and will get you up and operating with WordPress in a snap, however is likely to be somewhat too fundamental for builders who want to check in several server environments.


Native is the quickest and most intuitive and properly designed software amongst all. Initially known as Pressmatic, Native was later acquired by Flywheel who has since been giving it away without cost to all new customers. Flywheel was additionally not too long ago acquired by WP Engine, so Native is now a WP Engine product.

Native is full of a bunch of helpful options together with an Apache or Nginx internet server, SSL certificates, MailHog, and XDebug help. Native additionally permits builders to construct their very own addons to switch or lengthen Native’s functionalities.

On prime of the free model, Native provides two paid plans for people and groups costing $20/month and $50/month respectively. Lately, Native was renamed as Native “Lightning”, which because the identify suggests works lightning quick. Comparatively, it feels quicker than any software I’ve reviewed on this article.

Set up

Native Lightning doesn’t even include an installer package deal like the opposite apps I’ve lined thus far. As an alternative you simply launch the app and if it’s your first time operating it, you’ll be greeted with the next display:

Local's installer

Native is a cross-platform software and helps all main working programs. Whereas it used to run in digital containers, Native Lightning makes use of system-level software program to run your websites, which makes it a lot quicker. Native does an important job isolating it’s software program, and you may even use Native alongside one thing like MAMP or XAMPP. You may as well configure totally different MySQL/PHP variations per web site whereas creating it, with the choice to obtain totally different variations.

Getting Up and Working with WordPress

Like DesktopServer, Native is a WordPress-centric providing, so everytime you create a brand new web site, it’s a WordPress web site out of the field. What’s extra, Native provides you fairly a couple of choices by way of server kind (Apache or Nginx), PHP model, and MySQL. Organising a brand new web site in Native is sort of fast and may be made even faster by establishing a blueprint which primarily copies all recordsdata, databases, config recordsdata, and Native settings.

Local - dashboard


I can’t say sufficient good issues about Native. It’s actually the perfect of each worlds between one thing like DesktopServer or MAMP and the extra superior/developer-focused WordPress improvement environments.

As talked about earlier than, Native provides a wide range of server atmosphere choices and routinely units up WordPress (together with each variations of multisite) for you. It offers a simple interface to share your websites on the web utilizing Ngrok. It’s going to routinely arrange SSL to your websites, open supply MailHog integration to catch outbound emails… the record goes on. The most effective half about Native is that each one of that is at the moment included within the free model of the product.

Native additionally comes with WP-CLI hooked up by default, however you’ll be able to’t simply open up your web site’s folder and begin operating WP-CLI instructions. It’s good to open the location shell in Native. Native does make this very simple, good click on the location identify within the sidebar and choose “Open Site Shell”. The expertise round this might be higher.

Identical as Mamp Professional, Native additionally means that you can swap between totally different variations of PHP however you can’t set up a customized PHP model. Nevertheless, Native does include 2-3 pre-installed variations of PHP which makes it simpler to check in several environments.

Native additionally helps group developed addons which helps you modify and lengthen the app’s performance. Although their most up-to-date model Native Lightning solely helps one addon out of 5, providing you to allow XDebug help for PHPStorm.

Native Ranking

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Native is nearly excellent. It’s the most full UI-based native improvement answer for WordPress builders in the marketplace, and it’s mind-bogglingly free. I’d have given it an ideal 5 if WP-CLI was by some means accessible immediately.

What’s the Greatest Native WordPress Growth Setting?

Day-to-day I nonetheless use MAMP Professional for many of my native improvement. Not solely as a result of I’ve been utilizing it for years and I’m already entrenched, but in addition as a result of I typically have to entry my dev websites through the CLI. With PHPStorm’s built-in terminal, it’s very easy to run a CLI command on the fly with out having to undergo the app’s UI and opening terminal individually as seen in Native.

If I have been engaged on a Home windows working system, which I would do sooner or later, and possibly even when I have been ranging from scratch right this moment, Native could be the apparent selection.

When you’ve chosen your native improvement atmosphere device, see our recommendation on the perfect setup to your native WordPress improvement atmosphere.

What do you utilize to your native WordPress or different internet improvement initiatives? Are there different GUI-based instruments that you simply suppose I ought to have lined on this record? Is there anything you’d prefer to know extra about with regards to establishing your native improvement atmosphere? Tell us within the feedback!

This text was initially written by Jeff Gould in 2017 and has since been up to date.

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