Learn how to set up a local development environment with Local by Flywheel, a popular local WordPress development tool by Flywheel and WP Engine.
It is essential to have a local development environment if you are into developing WordPress themes, WordPress plugins or any other local site development works.
Setting up a local development environment is essential for WordPress developers to test out themes, plugins, features, etc. before pushing it out to a live production server.
One simple way to set up a development environment suited to WordPress is to install a local server stack, a bundled software that installs LAMP (Linux Apache MySQL PHP) or WAMP (Windows Apache MySQL PHP).
MAMP (for Mac), and XAMPP (for Mac or Windows) are some of the frequently mentioned tools for setting up local development environments suited for WordPress. While these tools are great, they come with several limitations, more so in their free versions of the software.
In the past few years, several other applications have also tried to work on such feature limitations and thus improve the workflow of the WordPress developers. DesktopServer, for example, is one of the recent ones that rank very well in the selection of WordPress developers.
Enter Local by Flywheel, a local WordPress development tool from Flywheel.
Local – Local WordPress Development Tool
Flywheel has launched Local, a free Local WordPress Development tool aimed to simplify the development workflow of WordPress developers and designers.
The company acquired a premium application formerly known as Pressmatic and released it for free under the name of “Local by Flywheel”. Pressmatic was developed by Clay Griffiths and was made available in July 2016 for a one-time fee of $129.
Local by Flywheel is now available for both Mac and Windows. It was initially launched for only Mac but the team continued to develop the windows versions as their top priority.
Features of Local by Flywheel
Local by Flywheel comes with several features suitable for local WordPress Development including;
Docker Container Technology: Local helps to build isolated sites powered by Docker, making it easy to match live production servers.
NGINX or Apache: Local lets you choose from both NGINX or Apache and hot-swap between them at any time as per your needs.
Multiple PHP Versions: Local lets you use multiple PHP versions allowing you to choose from versions including 5.2.4, 5.2.17, 5.3.29, 5.6.20, 7.0.3, and more.
Clone Local Sites: Local lets you easily clone sites that you have set up in the application.
WordPress MultiSite Option: You can choose to install WordPress multisite with options for both subdomain and subdirectory installations.
Site Blueprints: Easily create and save Blueprints to help you launch the next site with saved settings within a few clicks.
Import and Export Sites: Local lets you import and export websites with plenty of configurations. All files, databases, and configurations can be imported or exported as per your needs.
SSL for Local Sites: Local lets you have HTTPS for local websites helping you work locally matching the production server SSL.
SSH and WP-CLI Support: Local supports WP-CLI, command-line interface for WordPress (type wp after opening site SSH) and lets you have Simple root SSH access to individual sites.
Download and Install Local by Flywheel
Local by Flywheel is now available to download for free from the Flywheel official website.
For those who need help installing WordPress locally, you can follow along to see how you can install Local by Flywheel in a few easy steps.
Download and Open the file to initiate the Install Process
Step 1. Download the application by clicking on the Free Download button on the Local homepage. You will need to choose your platform and enter a few details such as your Name, Email Address etc. before clicking on the Get it Now button to start downloading.
Step 2. Unzip the downloaded file and initiate the install process by opening the Local by Flywheel application file.
Install and configure the required components
Step 3. You will be asked to install and configure some components required by the application. Click on the checkbox next to the components (VirtualBox, Host Machine, and Local Image).
Step 4. Click on the “Let’s Go” button to start installing the required components. You will also be asked for the administrative password of your Mac to configure the local changes.
Step 5. Once installed, you will be presented with a blank application screen asking you to add your first site.
Start creating Local WordPress sites
Step 6. Click on “Add site” button to add your first local WordPress website.
Configure Site Setup, Environment, and WordPress options
Step 7. Under Site Setup, fill in the options for Site name and Site domain. You can also change the site path if you want to store the files in a different location other than the default /Local Sites folder. Use the Browse button to choose a different location.
Step 9. You will be asked for a few required WordPress options including Admin Username, Password, and Email. You can also choose to install a WordPress multisite (with both options of Sub-directories and Sub-domains).
Step 10. Click on Add Site and Local by Flywheel will install WordPress as per your preferences. Once installed, you will be presented with all the details of your WordPress website.
Once the site is live, you can directly access it by typing the site domain in your browser. You also have quick links for Admin and View Site just beside the name of your WordPress installation on top.
Useful Features of Local by Flywheel Application
You can now easily configure different options for the Local WordPress website you just installed using the dashboard, but I want to show you a few of the useful features inside the app.
Adding SSL to your Local WordPress Website
This can be useful if you are debugging a website that has SSL enabled in live production or if you are building a website with making it SSL complaint when it goes into production.
To enable SSL for your Local WordPress website, all you have to do is go to the SSL tab of the installation and click on the Trust button.
It will ask for your admin password and turn the domain into a trusted one. You can now view the HTTPS version of the local domain.
Use Flywheel to host your website? Learn how to enable Free Simple SSL with Flywheel Hosting.
Live Demo URL for Local WordPress Installation
As I mentioned in the above section, another important feature of using Local by Flywheel is that you can easily create live shareable URLs to demo your local WordPress installation. This can be useful if you want to send the link to your client or coworker to see your work.
To create a Live demo URL, head over to the Utilities tab and press Enable under the Demo URL option. You will be instantly provided with a demo URL for your website.
You can choose to disable the demo URL once it has served your purpose.
Save Local Website as Blueprint
If you develop many local websites, you can save a lot of time by starting with a Blueprint of certain WordPress themes, plugins, and configurations. You can set up any local website as your Blueprint and use it next time you want a local WordPress website.
Right-click on any existing local website and select “Save as Blueprint” to create a Blueprint.
The next time you want to set up a site from your Blueprint, all you have to do is choose “Add Site from Blueprint”.
You can manage your Blueprints by navigating to Settings > BluePrint tab.
Blueprints are also available on Flywheel WordPress Hosting. Learn how Flywheel Blueprints can improve your WordPress installation Workflow.
You can go on exploring more features from the dashboard of your installation. Although there isn’t any extensive documentation for Local by Flywheel yet, it’s easy to figure out going around the settings tabs.
Watch these introductory videos about Local by Flywheel produced officially by the Flywheel team.
Local Pro by Flywheel
Flywheel is looking to revolutionise the local WordPress development workflow by building several features and making the Local a seriously powerful tool.
Latest Update: The Pro version is now available at a monthly cost with several powerful premium features.
A few highlights of the premium features of Local Pro include;
- Deploy up to 5x faster with MagicSync
- Push straight to staging or production on Flywheel
- Submit in-app support tickets to Flywheel’s Happiness Engineers
Flywheel previously had its Beta version of PRO, available only by request.
Although no specific pro features have been mentioned yet, Flywheel says its PRO version, Local Pro will have next-level features and some sweet bonus capabilities. You can request access to the PRO version from their landing page.
In addition to the upcoming Windows version, Flywheel has listed some coming soon features such as Remote site importing, Premium support, and Off-site backups. These definitely look like the Local Pro features!
Flywheel is continuing to make Local a really powerful WordPress development tool with several new features added on a regular basis. The tool also complements Flywheel’s range of products including their WordPress hosting service and Flywheel Growth Suite for agencies.
Local Connect Support for WP Engine
With Local’s latest update, Local Connect now supports the WP Engine hosting.
As Flywheel including Local was recently acquired by WP Engine, they have introduced the support for their own WP Engine platform.
This makes it really easy to push and pull your WP Engine websites for a simplified development process.
If you are looking to sign up with WP Engine, we have partnered with them to offer a discounted pricing exclusive to our WPism users.
Try Local Connect for free
You can try Local Connect before opting for a new hosting plan by following a few simple steps.
Get started with a free trial account which is completely risk-free to try and see if the service is for you;
- Create a free Flywheel account to make a 14-day demo site.
- Sign up for WP Engine’s Partner Program to get a free developer account.
Local Add-ons – Extensions
Local has several add-ons that can quickly help you connect with other frameworks and improve your overall local development workflow. You can also build your own add-on and submit it to the community.
Some of the main Add-ons built by the Local team include;
- Image Optimizer Add-on
- Atlas Headless WordPress Add-on
There are also other community-built add-ons available to download and install from the Local add-ons library.
Image Optimizer Add-on
The image optimizer is a really useful add-on that helps you optimize your images locally (without having to upload them to any cloud servers). It’s important to optimise images for speed and most WordPress users use some kind of plugin or service to smush and reduce the file sizes.
The Image Optimizer add-on scans your local site for image files and compresses images offline without cloud-based services.
WP Engine Atlas Headless WordPress Add-on
Local now supports the latest headless WordPress platform – Atlas by WP Engine. This integration with the Atlas framework makes it easy to quickly create a Node.js frontend linked with WordPress.
Final Thoughts about Local
I am really excited about the Local feature that allows one-click deployment to the Flywheel server. This can be really convenient and time-saving to deploy local sites to live servers. Besides, Flywheel is open for other WordPress hosts to build Add-ons that make it possible to deploy to their live servers.
Which feature do you like the most of the Local by Flywheel? Will you use this for your local WordPress installation and development environment? Let me know in the comments below.
Local by Flywheel Review
Local by Flywheel makes Local WordPress development really easy. The application simplifies the development workflow of WordPress developers and designers.