If you’ve never used WordPress or even the free / hosted version on WordPress.com, you might have no idea what it really means to “be on WordPress” – how the interface works, what you’ll need to do with your server, and if you’re really going to like it.
You might not understand what all the fuss is about – global WordCamps, plugins, themes?
Luckily, there’s a way you can play with WordPress on your own computer, without having to buy or commit to anything!
In a few steps, you can install this software that will simulate a web server on your computer, and you’ll have WordPress up and running. You can install this software package on a Windows, Linux or Mac computer and then install WordPress.
Why should you install WordPress on your home computer? After you’ve installed WordPress, then you can:
- Practice importing your site from another source into WordPress (Blogspot/Blogger, Typepad, hosted WordPress.com site)
- Apply and modify a WordPress (free/paid) theme design and play with other design features
- Create your own custom WordPress design (theme) from scratch
- Install and practice with the thousands of WordPress plugins available online or write your own WordPress plugin
- Get to know the WordPress interface and its features
- Practice inserting your own content, managing images, and other key WordPress lessons
- and…you can install MULTIPLE instances of WordPress – so you can work on more than one blog at a time!
Setting it up on your home computer means you can experiment, make mistakes and stop work whenever you want because the site is accessible only to you on your personal computer.
Not only is it free, it’s really easy to use and install.
Since WordPress is Open Source and free, it relies on several other open source and free software components to run. So that means it’s completely free for you to try out WordPress. On a more technical note, you just have to remember that there are four main components to get WordPress working: the web server software, the database engine and the programming language engine(s).
There’s an installation package that will give you all four of them called XAMPP. XAMPP has these four components: Apache HTTPD (web server), MySQL (database engine) and PHP and Perl (programming language engines). Each of these can be downloaded and installed separately, but the XAMPP package does it all in one go so you’re sure to have the right versions. Note: for the purposes of this article, I am assuming you will installing this for use on your personal computer, to be accessed only by you on that same computer for testing reasons. This is not an article about setting up a web server on your computer to be accessed externally.
In simple terms, Apache HTTPD is the software that turns your computer into a web server and to allow it to “serve” content in the form of web pages, images, and other content you’d find on a website when you use – it’s what happens when you insert “http://” in your web browser address bar.
MySQL is the database server. Years ago a web page consisted of actual files for each page of the site like index.html, contact.html, etc. Each of these files was sitting in your webserver’s hard drive and had be downloaded individually. Now with more modern sites, and especially with WordPress, each page is created more dynamically because the majority of the content is actually stored in a database. When someone wants to see “Sara’s Page” WordPress will put the pieces together dynamically, from the header to the footer with the blog’s theme, sidebars and formatting.
PHP and Perl are two programming languages that WordPress needs. PHP is the language that WordPress is written in and a language that was made for scripting web pages. Perl is a very succinct and powerful programming language and is often included in WordPress code (that you won’t have to worry about). You need to install these two engines so that when the PHP / Perl code is run, it can be interpreted and executed on your local computer.
In order to get WordPress running on your computer, here is the overview of the steps to do it – make sure you’re referencing the manuals for each installation to have detailed steps.
- Download and install XAMPP. Make sure you choose an easy to remember folder to install it in (like C:xampp)
- Download the latest version of WordPress
- Unzip/copy the WordPress files into its own subdirectory in the folder that is the “web directory” on your local computer – this will be defined during the installation in #1. It will be something like
C:/yourxamppinstallationdirectory/htdocs– in the above example:
- Install WordPress following the directions on the Installing WordPress page. And you’re done!
For multiple instances of WordPress, i.e., to experiment with more than one blog at the same time, just repeat steps 3 and 4 in another subdirectory of your web directory folder.
Now you’re read to experiment with WordPress with no hassle or commitment!
If you need a more detailed explanation, here’s screenshots of all the steps for installing WordPress on Windows XP thanks to sp-arun
Photo by ericmmartin
Categories: Website & Blog