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Complete Guide to Setting Up a WordPress Development Environment on Windows


Setting up a robust WordPress development environment is the first crucial step towards mastering WordPress theme development. In this comprehensive guide tailored for Windows users, we’ll walk you through the detailed process of installing WordPress locally, choosing the best code editor, and configuring a local server. Let’s get started to ensure a smooth and efficient development workflow for your WordPress projects!

Installing WordPress Locally on Windows

Installing WordPress locally on your Windows machine enables you to develop, customize, and test themes in a controlled environment without affecting your live website.

There are a plethora of local servers that we can use.

Local Servers in Windows for WordPress Web Development

  1. XAMPP

    • Features: XAMPP is a popular and widely used local server environment for Windows, macOS, and Linux. It includes Apache, MySQL, PHP, and Perl, making it easy to develop and test web applications locally.
    • Website: XAMPP
  2. WampServer

    • Features: WampServer is a Windows web development environment that allows you to create web applications with Apache2, PHP, and MySQL database. It also includes PHPMyAdmin for database management.
    • Website: WampServer
  3. MAMP (Windows Version)

    • Features: MAMP is a free, local server environment that is available for both macOS and Windows. It includes Apache, MySQL, and PHP, making it easy to develop and test websites locally.
    • Website: MAMP
  4. EasyPHP

    • Features: EasyPHP is a complete and ready-to-use local server environment for Windows. It includes Apache, PHP, MySQL, and PhpMyAdmin, providing a user-friendly interface for web development.
    • Website: EasyPHP
  5. Uniform Server

    • Features: Uniform Server is a lightweight, portable server package for Windows that includes Apache, MySQL, and PHP. It is designed to be simple, easy to use, and customizable for various web development projects.
    • Website: Uniform Server
  6. AMPPS

    • Features: AMPPS is a software stack for Windows that provides everything you need to run web applications locally. It includes Apache, MySQL, MongoDB, PHP, Perl, Python, and Softaculous auto-installer for easy application deployment.
    • Website: AMPPS
  7. Laragon

    • Features: Laragon is a powerful, isolated, fast & easy local development environment for Windows. It offers one-click installation for popular CMS like WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, and more. Laragon also supports Node.js, Ruby, Python, and other programming languages.
    • Website: Laragon

Downloading and Installing XAMPP on Windows

For the purposes of this guide, we will be using XAMPP on Windows. This is one of the most trusted local server for Windows.

  1. Download and Install XAMPP
    • Visit the official XAMPP website to download the latest version compatible with Windows.
    • Run the downloaded installer and follow the on-screen instructions to install XAMPP on your Windows machine.
  2. Start Apache and MySQL Services
    • Launch the XAMPP control panel from the Start menu or desktop shortcut.
    • Start the Apache and MySQL services by clicking on the ‘Start’ button next to each service.
  3. Create a MySQL Database
    • Open your preferred web browser and navigate to “http://localhost/phpmyadmin/”.
    • Click on the ‘Databases’ tab and enter a name for your new database.
    • Click ‘Create’ to create a new MySQL database for your WordPress installation.
  4. Download and Install WordPress
    • Download the latest version of WordPress from the official website. WordPress version 6.5.2 is the latest one at the time of writing this tutorial.
    • Extract the downloaded WordPress zip file.
    • Copy the extracted WordPress folder and paste it into the ‘htdocs’ directory of your XAMPP installation (e.g., C:\xampp\htdocs).
  5. Run the WordPress Installation
    • Open your web browser and navigate to http://localhost/wordpress/.
    • Follow the WordPress installation wizard to set up your website, including entering your site title, creating a username and password, and connecting to the MySQL database you created earlier.

Choosing the Best Code Editor for WordPress Development on Windows

Selecting a powerful and feature-rich code editor is essential for productive WordPress theme development. The best editor for you is the one that you are already used to. But if you haven’t really gotten the hang of any one particular editor, here are a few great and free options. I have been writing code in Brackets for a while now, and that is the environment I am most familiar with.

  • Visual Studio Code (VS Code)

    • Features: VS Code is a lightweight, free, and powerful code editor with built-in support for HTML, CSS, JavaScript, PHP, and WordPress development. It offers a rich set of features, extensions, and customization options to enhance your coding experience.
    • Website: Visual Studio Code
  • Sublime Text

    • Features: Sublime Text is a versatile and fast code editor known for its speed, efficiency, and extensive package ecosystem. It offers powerful search and navigation features, customizable user interface, and support for various programming languages and technologies.
    • Website: Sublime Text
  • Atom

    • Features: Atom is a modern and customizable code editor developed by GitHub. It offers a user-friendly interface, extensive package library, and customizable themes and settings to suit your coding style and preferences. Atom is free, open-source, and supports various programming languages and technologies.
    • Website: Atom
  • Brackets

    • Features: Brackets is an open-source code editor specifically designed for web development. Developed by Adobe, Brackets offers a modern and streamlined interface, live preview functionality, and built-in support for HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. It also provides extensions for additional features and customizations to enhance your web development workflow.
    • Website: Brackets

Next Steps

Now that your environment is set up, we can move forward to the next steps and that is choosing a starter theme. You can obviously develop a theme from scratch, but having a foundation really helps. If you landed here accidentally, or you want to set up a web development environment on MacOS, you can follow our detailed guide here on setting up a macos web development environment

Related courses for this will be up soon!

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