Save as blueprint

Why I have fallen in love with Local by Flywheel

Have you ever feel in love at first sight?

I have.

I’ll tell you my story. Don’t worry. It’s brief, and I’ll get to the point in some paragraphs.

I hate MAMP, and XAMP and any another related flavor. I’ve tried it once, twice, give our relationship some time but it didn’t work.

I’ve been a happy user of DesktopServer, but somehow we went on a day to day routine, with nothing new going on. I had no big complaints but felt that I missed something…

One day I meet Local by Flywheel.

I had some coffee with the app, while we’re talking to each other. Well, she made almost all the conversation. Sometimes I clicked to scroll down and listen to the new things.

When we finished out dialogue, she got me hooked.

I had to invite her to my place.

Since then, I’m in love, and it’s my go-to solution when it comes to WordPress local work.

I’ll tell you why in just a moment. Before that, let’s see why you need something to work local, on your computer.

Why you need a local development tool

Local development is a fantastic way to develop sites, new features, plugins, and themes, try some tweaks or bug fixes without breaking anything online.

And more:

  • It does not require an internet connection;
  • Test and debug things without influencing others;
  • Saves time as you can immediately view the changes in your browser.

Until now the big problem of such applications is the time and effort you’ve to invest to install and set up.

That is not the case of DesktopServer and Local by Flywheel.

Available for Mac and Windows (in Beta) users, has two big advantages comparing to others:

  • It’s a breeze to install;
  • It’s free, without installation limits.

Local by Flywheel was the name chosen by the hosting company Flywheel when they bought it from Clay Griffiths. At that time it was Pressmatic.

That was not the only change. The app was premium, and now it’s free.

When you install it on your computer, the app bundle set up almost everything you need.

From now on, you’re able to run multiple WordPress local installs using the same dashboard.

It gives you the ability to clone installations or save them as blueprints, among other features.

  • SSL Support;
  • Secure Shell (SSH) access to your sites;
  • Allows you to create shareable URLs for your local websites;
  • WP-CLI access;
  • Allows swapping between servers types and PHP versions, in one click;
  • Local WordPress Multisite setup;
  • Mailcatcher included to intercept any outgoing email from PHP sendmail for viewing and debugging;
  • It’s easy to import existing WordPress sites.

How to set up a WordPress site using Local by Flywheel

The first step is download and installs it on your computer. In two minutes, after chose the desired components, you can start working and creating local sites, after setting some options.

 

Local by Flywheel
Local by Flywheel installation process

 

The uncluttered dashboard may be a surprise if you’re used to MAMP. It’s clean and simple. One could ask if it isn’t too simple. But it’s a matter of little time to get used to it.

 

Starting local machine
Starting local machine

 

To begin, it’s a good idea to check the settings.

Here you can change the defaults PHP and MySQL versions, admin username and password, and the sites path.

Don’t forget to confirm any changes in the ‘Apply’ button, in the bottom right corner.

In the add-ons, you can install ‘Live links,’ that allow you to create shareable URLs to show your local sites to clients and collaborators.

When you’re ready, jump to the site creator.

 

Site setup after installation
Site setup after installation. You can change it later.

Add a new website in 5 seconds

For the first time, it’s very easy to add a new WordPress website. You can’t go wrong.

In the Sites tab, all you have to do is click on Add Site. All the landscape get’s you there.

After the initial site, the app ‘adopts’ a subtle behavior. More discreet than it should.

To add a new site you have a small + icon in the left footer.

 

Add new site
Add new site button

 

You can get there easily, but, I must confess, I spend some seconds to find it when trying the create the second website. It would be nice to see a bigger button in a future version.

Choose a name, a domain to access it in the browser, set a folder and the usual stuff: email, username, and password.

Again, you can modify the PHP or MySQL versions for this project.

Set site settings
Set site settings

 

Now sit back and relax. Local by Flywheel take care of everything in just 2 or 3 minutes, depending on your computer.

To get to your new website, you’ll just have to click on its name in the left section of the dashboard. There you have the settings and the buttons to view the site or go to admin using your default browser.

 

Adding a new site is fast depending on your computer
Adding a new site is fast depending on your computer

 

Now, we’re almost ready to hoop to play with the new site. But before that let’s talk about ‘Blueprints.’

Use ‘Blueprints’ to replicate sites and avoid wasting time

Chances are you use the same initial workflow when developing or creating new sites. You must use ‘blueprints’ in that case.

They’re copies of a local WordPress site, which you can save for use at a later date. When you add a new website, you’ll have the option to use a ‘blueprint’ as its base.

It allows you to create a stack of elements you use in every project, like plugins.

You’ll have to upload what you want in the first time and, after, save it as a ‘blueprint.’

In the next installation, you’ll simply have to select it and enjoy the saved time.

Save as blueprint
Save as blueprint

How to create blueprints

  1. Right-click the website you want to use;
  2. Select the Save as Blueprint in the dropdown menu;
  3. Choose a name
  4. Choose the server type, PHP version
  5. Pick files to exclude, if any

The next time you create a new website in the app, you can use that blueprint.

Don't forget to name the blueprints
Don’t forget to name the blueprints

Transparent, powerful and useful

Local by Flywheel is a great tool for WordPress developers, and middle to advanced users. Does a great job in a simple way, without bells and whistles.

It’s free. A Pro version is in Beta with more features, as remote site importing, premium support, off-site backups for local sites.

However, features like live link and blueprint creation turn it in a must have in the tool belt for designers or developers. Or anyone who uses WordPress.