This product is essentially a WAMP / MAMP application that has been extended to include some additional WordPress oriented functionality.
In its free version the customizations that stood out to me are
- its inclusion of Xdebug,
- support for Domain Name Mapping,
- auto-creation of Apache Virtual Hosts,
- and its auto-install of WP.
I was surprised to note that they list PHP 5.5 as being included but no mention of PHP 7.
When one moves up to their premium product ($100) one receives
- a trace utility for PHP debugging (which one?),
- LAN sharing for mobile testing,
- a few plugins (bypass login, airplane mode, enhanced Coda2 preview, Adobe Dreamweaver),
- “blueprints for automated WordPress configurations”,
- the ability to direct deploy to a live server,
- and the ability to import (from BackupBuddy, Duplicator, BackWP Up, BackUp WordPress, InfiniteWP, ManageWP), export, and archive sites.
I didn’t spend a ton of time with it, as at the time I was looking for something that was virtualized – e.g., using Vagrant or Docker.
I’d want the premium version – but $100 is quite pricey, imho, especially when much of the product consists of open source components.
Don’t get me wrong, I understand this has had some significant time and effort put into it, but I’ll blog about a few other solutions available that are free and open source and you’ll see how they can stand shoulder to shoulder with DesktopServer.
I’ve been a bit busy for the last few days (in part installing an Open-Mesh 20 node network, which I hope to write about in the near future), so haven’t had a chance to post a tech. news update…so here is a summary, including items from the last few days.
- Andrea Smith. “Study Finds Voice-to-Text Apps Don’t Increase Driver Safety.” Mashable.
- Kim-Mai Cutler. “Through Dirt-Cheap Genetic Testing, Counsyl is Pioneering a New Bioinformatics Wave.” TechCrunch.
- Jon Brodkin. “BitTorrent Sync Creates Private, Peer-to-Peer Dropbox, No Cloud Required.” Ars Technica.
- Stacey Higginbotham. “MoboSens, a Square-Like Tool for Eco Warriors, Lets You Crowdsource Water Pollutants.” GigaOm.
- This is an awesome idea and could be huge. Use it to determine your own home water safety, hold commercial water companies to account (both tap water and bottled water), etc.
- Eliza Kern. “Foursquare Tweaks Desktop Version of Site As It Moves Toward Local Search.” GigaOm.
- James Holloway. “IBM’s Solar Tech is 80% Efficient Thanks to Supercomputer Know-How.” Ars Technica.
- “According to the team’s calculations, covering 2 percent of the area of the Sahara with HCPVT would meet the world’s electricity needs, transmission issues aside.”
- Frederic Lardinois. “Developer Brings Google+ Commenting System to WordPress a Week After Google Launches It For Blogger.” TechCrunch.
- Disqus and Livefyre both provide better integrated solutions, but Google is more reliable, IMHO. Facebook is also a competitor – but I have not tried using Facebook or this integration on any of my sites yet.
- Sean Gallagher. “Monty Changes Roles, Goes Big With MariaDB — And Gains Wikipedia As a User.” Ars Technica.
- I’m not a fan of Oracle. I feel like they butchered MySQL and OpenOffice. In any case, I’m happy to see this fork of MySQL gaining traction.
- Amanda Alvarez. “Taming the HetNet with Wi-Fi Traffic Cops.” GigaOm.
- The problem here is getting device manufacturers on board. But even passive functionality within computer tech. could make significant improvements here. For example, routers/etc. should seek out and utilize the least congested channels available to them…some do, but some don’t.
- John Timmer. “Understanding the Brain of a Man with No Conscious Memory.” Ars Technica.
- Anthony Ha. “Apple’s iCloud Grew 20 Percent in Q2, To 300M users.” TechCrunch.
- Christina Warren. “Samsung Galaxy S4: Best Android Phone Ever.” Mashable.
- Rebecca Grant. “Pedal-Powered Generator Lets You Charge Your Phone While you Ride.” VentureBeat.
- Michael Carney. “Exablox Plays Robin Hood, Makes Previously Costly and Complex Storage Tech Available to the Masses.” PandoDaily.
- Anthony Ha. “Adobe Updates its Social Marketing Tools to Predict the Popularity of Your Facebook Post.” TechCrunch.
- Andrew Cunningham. “Review: All Thumbs On Deck with the BlackBerry Q10.” Ars Technica.
- Laura Hazard Owen. “Is this Plagiariam? A New Web Extension Can Help Answer That Question.” paidContent.
- Christina Farr. “‘Data vis for the 99 percent’: DataHero Launches Its Free Service.” VentureBeat.
- Tom Cheredar. “How Netflix Plans to Make More Money Without Raising the Price on Its $8 Plans.” VentureBeat.
- Brian S. Hall. “Why Aren’t College Students Using LinkedIn To Find Jobs?” ReadWriteSocial.
- Gregory Ferenstein. “3 Awesome and Inspiring Inventions from the White House Science Fair.” TechCrunch.
- Mike Tatum. “The Google Fiber Competitive Plan for Everyone Else.” PandoDaily.
- Anna Codrea-Rado. “The Science Behind Why We Procrastinate.” Lifehacker.
- Sam Laird. “Reddit Apologizes for Boston Marathon ‘Witch Hunt.’” Mashable.
- Alvaro Fernandez. “White House BRAIN Initiative is a Nice Start, But It’s Too Small…” VentureBeat.
- Katie Fehrenbacher. “Nest Unleashes the Power of Its Smart Thermostat With Data-Driven Services.” GigaOm.
- Frederic Lardinois. “Google Launches Google Earth Pro 7.1 With New Viewshed Visualization Tool and Improved Printing Options.” TechCrunch.
- Seth Fiegerman. “Grooveshark CEO: ‘I’m Broke.'” Mashable.
- Gregory Ferenstein. “Autistic Workers Can Thrive in High-Tech Jobs.” TechCrunch.
- Devindra Hardawar. “Facebook Home Over a Week Later: Only 500K Installs and a Two-Star User Rating.” VentureBeat.
- Wayne Williams. “Google Apps Users Can Now Get Interactive In-App Training.” BetaNews.
- Ingrid Lunden. “Gizmox Raises $7.5M, Appoints New CEO To Help Enterprises Port IT Apps to Mobile Via HTML5.” TechCrunch.
- Messed around with this a little in the past, looks like a pretty interesting tool I’d like to explore further.
- Ucilia Wang. “What You Need to Know About Shopping for Solar Panels.” GigaOm.
- Brian Proffitt. “Software-Defined Networking (SDN): What It Is, How It Works, Why It Matters.” ReadWriteCloud.
For those who are interested in website design / management ScrewTurn Wiki will probably be of interest. Free, open source (GPLv2), and under constant development ScrewTurn Wiki is a ASP.NET wiki application. I use it on my freewargamer site.
Why would I suggest ScrewTurn as worth a turn or two? Well:
- It depends on whether you are looking for a Windows based stack or a Linux based stack. There are lots of options out there for Linux based stacks – but for Windows there are far fewer.
- As mentioned above its free, open source, and licensed under the well-known, widely utilized GPLv2.
- ScrewTurn also seems to be under continuous development with regular releases and well supported forums…and its not some new project that just popped out of the woodwork – its been around for a while.
- Its extremely easy to setup. Anyone who can learn how to purchase some shared hosting and use an FTP client can get ScrewTurn up and running within minutes.
- It supports a good variety of databases (e.g. MSSQL and MySQL) but also allows for flat filesystem site creation (what I use on freewargamer). This makes setup/management even simpler and reduces the requirements in a shared host (which usually limit or don’t provide database access).
- The UI is simple and easy to use. Its intuitive.
- It has WYSIWYG editing of articles.
- It supports Active Directory integration!
The list could go on – but check it out for yourself. Enjoy! (P.S. they recently released the final version of 3.0 which is pretty awesome).
DotNetNuke (DNN) is a popular open source content management system written in ASP.NET with Microsoft SQL Server as the back-end. I’ve been using it for a number of years on sites of mine like davemackey.net. I’ve been a fan of DNN for a number of years for a few reasons.:
- Open Source – I’m always a fan of open source projects, not just b/c I like a free lunch as much as the next guy but also because it allows for the project to continue on beyond the lifespan of a given individual or company.
- ASP.NET – Its only been within the last several years I’ve really begun messing around with LAMP, and for the longest time I loved ASP and then ASP.NET. Now I’ve been swung to the dark side recently, though I still find Microsoft‘s development tools to be leagues beyond the open source competition (for speed of development) and still prefer developing in a VB.NET-like syntax to C#, PHP, etc. But, this habit must die…b/c everyone else is going LAMP.
- Simplicity – Compared to Joomla or Drupal, DNN is a breeze. Within minutes of installing the application you can have a full featured site up and running.
That said, I’m now leaving the DNN community (I’ll get to what I’m moving to in a few moments). Here are the simple reasons why:
- Cost – While DNN itself is open source, the Microsoft ecosystem as a whole is much more oriented around cost-based. This especially holds true for the DNN third-party ecosystem of modules and skins. Both of these would have some commercial items in a similar LAMP based project, but there would be loads of free modules/skins. Not so of the DNN ecosystem.
- Development – Feature development in DNN seems to go at a much slower pace than equivalent open source projects (though this may change with the venture capital infusion DNN recently received). One significant example is the forums module which has been without an update for well over a year and has several show-stopping bugs in the current production version.
- Openness – While DNN is an OSS project, the sharing of news about what is happening internally as far as development as well as the ability to get the latest snapshot download to run on the bleeding edge is extremely limited.
So what am I moving to? Good question. Its not Drupal or Joomla. I find both of these overly convoluted (here come the haters). Instead I’m moving to WordPress. WordPress while initially designed as a blogging platform has extended itself significantly to include most functionality that a user could want from a CMS in the core install. Thousands of free extensions make up for whatever WordPress lacks at its core. The development pace is rapid and even minor versions include massive updates (e.g. 2.7 is awesome!). The skins/modules are free, free, free and if one module isn’t receiving development there are dozens others that are.
That said, I’m not abandoning DNN completely just yet. It works well enough for davemackey.net, ocddave.com, and a few other sites. At this juncture the cost to move them over to WordPress (in time and energy) is greater than the lost features (since these are essentially static content sites, they aren’t missing out on much). I plan to in the future – as the need arises.
Its not uncommon for me to get asked, “What web host would you recommend for me to use when building a new website?” I figured now would be as good a time as any to post about one of the hosts I utilize. This host is great for beginners and advanced users alike. That said, I’ll also note right at the beginning that the instigator of this post was actually a server outage on Bluehost‘s part. Yesterday I was writing a review of the movie Amazing Grace (don’t worry, I’ll rewrite it soon) when the Bluehost server went down. But no host is perfect and this is one of only a few times I have experienced any performance problems from Bluehost’s service.
First, lets talk about Bluehost from a beginner’s perspective. If you are looking to create a website or start a blog there are a few easy ways to get started. One is to hire someone to assist you in doing so (you can always hire me). Another is to utilize any of a number of free services that allow you to create sites/blogs easily – for example in the blogging arena one can get free accounts from blogger and wordpress. The third option, and the one I personally prefer, is utilizing a shared host. This scenario gives you the most flexibility. When determining what sort of host you should utilize ask yourself these questions:
- Do I enjoy technology? (If no, hire someone).
- Do I want to learn more about web-based technologies? (If yes, utilize a shared host).
- Do I have time to expend on learning new technologies? (If no, hire someone or utilize a free account).
- Do I want a professional presence? (If yes, either hire someone or use a shared host and expect to spend a significant amount of time learning and experimenting).
Should you decide to go with a shared host you face one additional large question: Do I want a Windows or a Linux environment? If you are new to technology generally, I recommend Linux. In fact, unless you already utilize web-based technologies that are Windows specific I recommend Linux. Why? Because its built around a nice word – free. There is one exception. If you want to do custom product development rather than just building a straight-up site, you may want to consider using Windows for your development environment. Microsoft’s Visual Studio is pretty kick-butt. I really enjoy ASP.NET and think it is great for developing applications in.
Okay…So we’ve decided to go with a Linux host. In that case, open an account with Bluehost. Here’s the main factors I consider killer about Bluehost:
- $6.95/mo. What? Yes. $6.95/mo. We eat that at McDonald’s in one lunch! That includes a free domain name (e.g. yourname.com), which is pretty huge since these usually cost around $10 in and of themselves.
- Unlimited Hosting/File Transfer. You can store as much data as you want on their servers (okay, there are some exceptions, but generally…you’ll never run out of space) and you can also transfer as much information to and from the server as you want (again, some exceptions…but mainly apply to people who are trying to abuse the service).
- Free MySQL Databases. MySQL Databases (or PostgreSQL) are the backbone of most modern web applications. They store data in a way that makes it extremely easy and quick to retrieve.
- SimpleScripts. Allows you to within two minutes deploy popular web applications including WordPress (blogging), Joomla (cms), Drupal (cms), phpBB (forums), Zenphoto (photo gallery), Roundcube (webmail), and WikkaWiki (wiki) among many others. Seriously – two minutes.
- Bluehost includes lots of other standard features like FTP, email, free advertising credits (Google, Yahoo, Miva), and automatic backups.
So what are you waiting for? There are no contracts. Even if you just want to familiarize yourself with some web-based technologies – open an account, use it for a few months, and then cancel. Its a great learning tool. No, it won’t run the next Google, but once you grow big enough and learn enough you can move to a larger host (we’ll talk about them in another post) who can handle your highest demands.