A quick review of Local by Flywheel

I recently decided to check out Local by Flywheel for local development, and my initial thoughts are that it’s strong for many things, but is far from perfect.

In the past, I’ve used MAMP, XAMPP, VVV, and custom docker environments for local development. Each of these has it’s own strengths and weaknesses. Local’s strength is that it is by the far the most user-friendly route to having a local development environment. It’s all GUI driven, you don’t need to mess with hosts files, and having an SSL cert for your local site couldn’t be easier. If your goal is to have a local site with little fuss, Local By Flywheel does it.

Where Local falls short is developer friendliness.  Installing XDebug, for example, isn’t easy. Customizing the environment to include anything beyond the standard config options also isn’t easy. If you are developer that needs XDebug or wants a PHP Extention that isn’t included out of the box, you are going to need to do some work for it.

Installing the development checkout of WordPress also isn’t straightforward. I would love for it to out of the box support using either the regular or development versions of WordPress. I could see a GUI tool like Local being very valuable for onboarding new WordPress Core Contributors who aren’t as familiar with git, svn, or the command line if it did this. 

Would I recommend Local by Flywheel?

For the right person, yes.  If you wouldn’t call yourself a developer and have no interest in contributing to core, then Local is definitely worth checking out. If you want XDebug, are comfortable on the command line, want to run PHPUnit, or need a nondefault PHP setup, then you likely should look elsewhere.

Have you tried Local by Flywheel?  What are your thoughts on it? 

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