A better OS X development environment

Published 23:41 on 12 April, 2009

When I first began developing using a Mac I made use of the bundled versions of Apache and PHP that were included in OS X Tiger. This meant I only needed to install MySQL to be able to develop fairly complex websites.

However, as my requirements evolved, I discovered that recompiling PHP to include support for features such as HTML Tidy was going to be a pain in the proverbials. So, following advice from friends, I opted to install another version of Apache, PHP5, and MySQL using MacPorts package management. This required minimal configuration and allowed me to easily activate or deactivate features on install – and it also allowed me to add to my environment as I learnt new skills; including Python and Django.

Recently, however, this became an issue again, as I attempted to install mod_wsgi in the MacPorts Apache. No matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t get it working with more complex Python scripts. At this point, I sought more help from my friends and, after a couple of attempts to rectify the problem, was suggested the movement of my entire development environment to a dedicated virtual machine.

So, thanks to Danny Amey and Brad Wright, I’m now running a proper Ubuntu server as my development environment and have just as much control over it as I do on my live web server. In fact, the two are pretty much identical; and, best of all, I have access to all the files on my dev server using VMWare shared folders, which means I can use all my favourite OS X tools to create and edit files. I really can’t advocate this method enough.

For more information on creating such an environment, I recommend reading Brad’s post, “development virtual machines on OS X using VMWare and Ubuntu”.