Developing websites normally consists of a few elements. Design your layout, code your pages, sort out your graphics, upload your files, test, debug, upload your files, test, debug, upload your files, test, de… ok you get the idea! What takes the time more than anything is the testing, especially when it comes to developing for all those browsers.

That’s why XAMPP is a god sent! Basically XAMPP sets up a web host on your local computer meaning you no longer have to keep uploading the files, but you just need to refresh your browser and view the changes. Trust me, this saves an enormous amount of time.

Complete in the instillation is the necessary files for an Apache web server complete with a PHP, Pearl and MySQL database. It even installs the excellent phpMyAdmin front end for your MySQL database.
It’s not easy to set up a full Apache instillation but XAMPP is extremely easy, simply download, extract and install. I would provide instructions… but I just have! Seriously, download the windows installer and go for it, it’s that easy.

The distribution for Windows 98, NT, 2000, 2003, XP and Vista. This version contains: Apache, MySQL, PHP + PEAR, Perl, mod_php, mod_perl, mod_ssl, OpenSSL, phpMyAdmin, Webalizer, Mercury Mail Transport System for Win32 and NetWare Systems v3.32, Ming, JpGraph, FileZilla FTP Server, mcrypt, eAccelerator, SQLite, and WEB-DAV + mod_auth_mysql. – From the XAMPP site

Dreamweaver also works extremely well alongside XAMPP. Set up a site and you can preview pages by right clicking on the document tree and view in whichever browser you have installed.
To set up Dreamweaver…

  • Create a new site (Site > New Site)
  • Click on the Advanced tab and add the following information:

  • Local Info (Category links down the left of the dialog box)

  • Remote Info: Access: None
  • Click Ok. This creates the site in Dreamweaver.
  • To preview right-click on the file in the Files panel and select Preview in browser and select the browser you want to test the file in.

Database Access

If you want to use dynamic data through connecting to a MySQL database through PHP, you will need to set up your database.

Go to http://localhost/

And click on the phpMyAdmin link on the left hand side.

…and create a new database

Now you have done this, you will be able to store data galore in your fresh database!
It’s also worth setting up an ODBC connection so that you can access the data easily through Microsoft

Access Link tables.
To do this…

  • Click Start > Settings > Control Panel and open Administrative Tools
  • Click on Data Sources (ODBC)
  • Click the Add… button
  • Scroll to the bottom of the driver list and select MySQL ODBC 3.51 Driver and click Finish. NB: You will need to have the MySQL ODBC driver installed). If you haven’t download it by visiting the MySql website.

You now need to enter details of your database connection.

Microsoft Access

To access the data in your database’s tables easily, you can go through Microsoft Access.
Again these couldn’t be easier. Simply open up Access, right click in your database window and select “Link Table”.

Now drop down the Files of type option and select ODBC databases. Select “Machine Data Source” and select the name you have just set up in the odbc setup.
You will now see the tables within your database.

Likewise you can also export tables to your MySQL database using the same method.
Set up a new table in Access and right click on your table. Select Export and follow the same method as above (for link tables). This will send your table to your MySQL database.

All in all XAMPP should improve the speed at which you can develop sites and hopefully make the all important (but sometimes less glamorous) job of testing that bit more bearable!

Visit the XAMPP site…

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