Hardware and Software

We have worked on a variety of computer systems and most of the time we use the set up shown below, running either on a Windows XP machine or on a Mac under Lion. That doesn’t mean that you have to do the same! There are plenty of alternatives out there which will work, so feel free to mix and match.

Windows

Mac

Linux

Browser

Firefox

Safari

Firefox

Text Editor

Crimson Editor

Smultron

Vim

Web server

XAMPP

XAMPP

XAMPP

You will need a web server. Your own computer (if it has 512Mb RAM or more) is perfectly capable of running a web server and we recommend that you download XAMPP from Sourceforge by clicking on the link above. Sourceforge is a respected provider of quality, virus free, software for the dev community and for others.

A quick search of the web will lead you to the alternative web servers for your OS if that’s what you want.

Windows

Mac

Linux

Alternative web server

WAMP

MAMP

LAMP

We prefer using XAMPP (some call it ZAMP and some call it EX-AMP) because it provides us with a uniform user experience across all platforms. XAMPP stands for

X

Cross platform

A

Apache the core “web server” application which understands HTML etc

M

mySQL a powerful tool for managing relational databases

P

PHP a popular programming language (from about 1999 onwards)

P

PERL a popular programming language (until about 2001)

Many professional web servers out there on the internet, run on Apache. The professionals may use fully packaged collections like XAMPP (because it contains Apache) or they may just use a collection of the exact bits and pieces they want.

The team that built XAMPP did it as a free open source project, and have not updated it since 2005. By all means run XAMPP on your own computer as a learning tool. But, take advice before trying to use it as a DIY system and installing it on your own bit of the internet. In any case, if you’re like us at CFK Books, you’ll be renting your web space from a bigger organisation, and they will be providing the back end services (like Apache) to make your whole site work.

That means that if you have a personal web site, and you know how to FTP your files, you can simply plonk the right files in the right folder, and (assuming you wrote it properly) your PHP and HTML should work fine.

Have a look at Managing Folders and Files to see how to keep track of the work that you do on your own computer.

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