I’m working on possibly self-hosting my blog soon, and as such decided it was time to dabble with a theme design. Those of you who love playing around with layouts or plugins on your self-hosted blogs know that things don’t always go as planned. Sometimes you end up with broken layouts and everything goes just a little wonky. Since your blog is essentially broken, you panic to fix it before anyone can see it.
A great practice is to actually test your theme/plugins locally on your own computer – then you have all the time in the world to fix things. This used to be a rather daunting task for non-techy folks to do, requiring a full manual installation of WordPress and it’s dependencies(PHP, MySQL, Apache/IIS,etc) on your computer. For those of you who have access to a Windows computer, however, it’s become quite simple. (Mac users will still have to do a few more steps – check out these instructions on how to do a WordPress install on MAMP).
Microsoft actually did something intelligent! They built a Web Installer Platform, which allows you to install a bunch of web applications with just a few clicks. Here’s a direct link to install WordPress via their tool.
The installer will ask you set some passwords, but other than that don’t worry about tweaking the options unless you really know what you’re doing. It’s incredibly simple.
After it’s installed, you can view your local blog by pointing your browser at http://localhost/wordpress/. The files are all stored at C:\inetpub\wwwroot\wordpress.
You can see how your own blog looks by exporting your blog content (Tools > Export) to your computer, and then doing an import on the local installation (Tools > Import). Install your theme and matching plugins on your local installation as well, and you’ll be able to test any changes before making them live.