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When working with WordPress, it's a good idea to create a local development environment so you can code, test, and even break things without bringing down your real web site. The main requirements to do so are a web server, a MySQL database server, and the PHP application server. The easiest way to do this is to install the whole package at once. This is where we can use MAMP, if you are on Macintosh. MAMP stands for Macintosh, Apache, MySQL, and PHP.
The first thing you'll need to do is go to the MAMP web site at www.mamp.info. Here you'll have the opportunity to download MAMP. It'll tell you information, what the requirements are in terms of your version of your operating system, and it will also give you information about MAMP Pro and why you may or may not want to use that. Once you've downloaded it, you'll have a ZIP file in your hard drive. Double-clicking will create a DMG file.
You can then launch this DMG file, which will launch an installer and essentially set a disk image in your directory. You'll now have the MAMP information, and all you really need to do to install it is to grab either MAMP or MAMP Pro into the Application's directory. It will then copy everything over. Now MAMP is installed, so you can go ahead and close it out, and you can eject the disk image. If you go into the Application folder, you'll see you now have a folder called MAMP.
If you open this up, inside you'll see there is a file labeled MAMP with some kind of little coin icon. Double-clicking on this will launch MAMP. The first time you load it, you'll get a warning saying, "This is downloaded from the Internet. Are you sure you want to open it?" And I assure you, it is okay. This will launch the Control Panel, which tells you whether or not the servers are running. It's from here that you'll be able to start and stop server, as well as set preferences. It will also open the Start page by default.
If you want to open it later, because you are going to keep this Control Panel open while you are working with your web sites, you can always click to Open Start page. This is the Start page, and it gives you information about your server, what port it's running in, what the password for MySQL is, you can find information about PHP, and there is some other documentation that you can see. In addition, I can view PHP-- it tells me all the information about the server that I might need-- XCache, phpMyAdmin will give me access to the MySQL database and allow you to edit that from PHP, SQLiteManager gives you access to the SQLite database that's installed, and then an FAQ to answer some questions of what else is included. And you can see there is quite a few things in addition to just the main stack that are installed.
So WordPress runs on top of PHP. You are also going to access PHP through a web server, and the backend of WordPress is controlled by the MySQL database, so you need to have all three of these things on your computer. The easiest and most flexible way to get this set up in a development environment on your Mac is by using MAMP software. Now that you have your environment set up, let's get started and take a look at WordPress.
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