Development servers are great, and this is why.
When it comes to developing full web sites, I’ve realized that I love to work locally. There was a time (oh, the wretched days before XAMPP) when I’d get the rough site written out and then push every little change over FTP so I could really see how things were coming together. I admit this only because I’m pretty sure every amateur developer has been guilty of this at one point. The fact is, I didn’t know any other way.
And then I was introduced to the wonder of local development, which allowed me to do so much more without exposing my work to the world prematurely. I could set up databases and install WordPress without even touching the web, and all was well.
Except… I got to a point where the local machine wasn’t enough. I knew there’d be some kinks to work out when the site went live, things like making sure all the plug-ins played well together, getting the actual database information (and writing it into wpconfig correctly), and getting all the paths correct. Getting second and third pairs of eyes on the site for basic usability testing wasn’t really an option on the local machine, either. The problem was, I didn’t want to put the site out there for the whole web to see yet.
So I found a middle ground: a development server. I created a subdomain, dev.jaxfastpitch.com, and I used cPanel to give that entire subdomain password protection. That way, only people who’d been given the username and password could access the site. I could send it to the person from whom I needed content, I could send it to a coworker who’d agreed to take a look at the site navigation and organization, and I got an idea of how quickly the page was loading and what kind of adjustments I might need to make to improve the site’s performance.
I loved having that development server as a middle ground between local development and transitioning to the live site, and, given how easy it was to set up, I’d definitely say I’ll be utilizing one again.