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No matter what kind of work you do, getting the right tools for the job can mean the difference between getting things done right and making huge problems for yourself. Fortunately, when it comes to web development, there are excellent, easy to use, free tools available for all platforms. To follow this course you need a browser with web developers tools built in, you need a text/code editor so you can edit your code, and you also need to install WordPress locally on your computer. If you want to match my work environment, I'll show you the tools I am going to be using.
For the browser, I am going to be using Chrome from Google. I use Chrome because it already has all the web developer tools built-in, and I don't have to worry about installing any extra features to make it work the way I want it to. But most other modern browsers also have either extensions that will install web developer tools or they also have web developer tools built-in, so it's a preference thing. I'll be using Notepad++ as my code editor. Notepad++ is a simple code editor for PCs and it's very easy to use.
However, if you're on a Mac, you need to install a Mac specific application. One option is TextWrangler from Bare Bones. It's free and it works pretty much the same way as Notepad++. But there are many other options available that you can choose from. You also need to install WordPress on your computer and there are several different ways you can do that depending on what kind of computer you're using. If you're on a Windows computer, the simplest way of installing WordPress locally is to use BitNami. BitNami is a one click install that allows you to install WordPress directly on your computer.
To get to the WordPress solution, you simply go to BitNami, you select Downloads, and you find WordPress, and from here you can pick the installation you want. If you're a more advanced user and you want more control over your server, you can install either the WAMP server for Windows or the MAMP Server for Mac. They're the exact same application and all they do is they set up an Apache, MySQL, PHP server on your computer so you can run the full web server that you can experiment with.
If you install either the WAMP server or the MAMP server, you then afterwards have to install WordPress under these servers so that WordPress works. The reason why you want to install WordPress locally on your computer is so that when you make changes you don't have to upload those change to the server to see if they work. You can simply change them on your computer and reload your page and it automatically updates for you. It also means that you can bring your projects with you. If you're on a laptop and you don't have Internet, you'll still be able to work on your themes, because they're on your computer, not on the Internet.
With the right tool set up, you're ready to start developing rock solid WordPress child themes.
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