Use Instant WordPress as Your Local Development Environment

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Instant WordPress installs WordPress to your hard drive to serve as your local development environment. It works under Windows. And it is an excellent tool for working on a WordPress website that is still under development and not yet ready to published.

What will you learn in this post?

I will show you:

  • why to use Instant WordPress
  • how to install Instant WordPress
  • how to set up and launch Instant WordPress
  • how to work with Instant WordPress
  • how to stop Instant WordPress’ processes

Why Instant WordPress

There are several portable local development environments available out there. I like Instant WordPress most, because of its simplicity and ease of use.

There are many good reasons to use Install WordPress.

First of all, you don’t need an internet connection to develop websites. You can work on a site anywhere in the world, even while you are traveling.

Next, when using Instant WordPress you can also access your SQL database(s) locally.

And, finally, you never get bogged down by time-consuming tasks such as uploading content to an FTP server. All WordPress files and all your creative content is stored on your hard drive.

Installing Instant WordPress

Instant WordPress is packaged as a portable software tool, so installing it is really easy.

Download the latest Instant WordPress package.

Create a folder where you will unpack the contents of the package. I use one folder for all my portable software at C:\Portable.

My Portable folder

Launch the downloaded executable file and unpack the contents of the package to the folder you have just created.

Unpack Instant WordPress to its portable folder

And that’s all there is to it.

Launching Instant WordPress

You will be using the InstantWP.exe file or a shortcut to it to launch Instant WordPress.

Launching Instant WordPress

By default, Instant WordPress will open up in Mozilla Firefox. If you want to use a different browser with Instant WordPress, open up the pms_config.ini file located in C:\Portable\Instant WordPress\InstantWP_4.5\iwpserver\ sub-folder. You can open this file in Notepad or in Notepad++.

You need to update the following lines in pms_config.ini:

Make sure that you use the correct amount of ../ to navigate Instant WordPress to the correct location of your browser’s executable file. In the example above, the root folder (C:\) is located three folders above the Mozilla Firefox folder. In other words, the full path to the browser’s executable file is C:\Portable\Mozilla Firefox/FirefoxPortable.exe. Yet Instant WordPress requires you to point to three folders above Mozilla Firefox folder.

Keep that in mind when changing the browser path in pms_config.ini.

Working with Instant WordPress

When you launch Instant WordPress, it opens up the following page in your selected browser:

Instant WordPress work space with extra text and links

As you can see, the address is the localhost at port 4001 — 127.0.0.1:4001.

From here, you can do several things:

  • visit your WordPress installation’s frontpage at http://127.0.0.1:4001/wordpress
  • log in to your WordPress admin area at http://127.0.0.1:4001/wordpress/wp-login.php — user name: admin, password: password
  • visit the Plugins folder of your WordPress installation at http://127.0.0.1:4001/instantwp/externals/explore_plugins.php?wp=wordpress
  • visit the Themes folder of your WordPress installation at http://127.0.0.1:4001/instantwp/externals/explore_themes.php?wp=wordpress
  • access your SQL database via phpMyAdmin at http://127.0.0.1:4001/phpmyadmin — user name: root, there is no password
  • read the documentation for Instant WordPress at http://www.instantwp.com/documentation/?v=InstantWP4.5

You can remove the remaining text and links below the large buttons by editing the iwp.ini file located at the C:\Portable\Instant WordPress\InstantWP_4.5\system\config\ sub-folder. You need to change the following line:

to

And voila…

Instant WordPress work space

You can install themes and plugins either by logging in to your WordPress admin area and going to Dashboard > Updates. Or you can visit the Plugins or Themes folders via the links in the page above and install them manually.

To update WordPress core, themes, and plugins to their most current releases, you can, again, do it via the WordPress dashboard or manually by visiting the correct sub-folders of your Instant WordPress installation.

Shutting Down Instant WordPress

When using Instant WordPress with a non-portable browser, you can shut it down easily. All you need to do is close the browser windows where Instant WordPress is active and you will see this splash screen:

Shutting down Instant WordPress

However, when using Instant WordPress with portable browsers, it doesn’t shut down correctly. To check whether Instant WordPress is fully shut down, use the Ctrl+Shift+Esc keyboard shortcut to launch the Task Manager. Then switch to its Processes tab.

As you can see, there are several processes running related to Instant WordPress even after I closed all the relevant browser windows or tabs: mysqld.exe, Apache.exe, and iwpserver.exe.

Instant WordPress processes

Locate the iwpserver.exe process. Right-click on it and select End Process Tree from the drop-down menu.

End the process tree of Instant WordPress

Windows will request a confirmation of this action by asking: Do you want to end the process tree of ‘iwpserver.exe *32’?

Do you want to end the process tree

To confirm, simply click on the End process tree button.

In case you are curious why it is necessary to kill the whole process tree, here is a visual explanation via Process Explorer, part of the Windows Sysinternals suite:

Instant WordPress’ process tree

Here you can clearly see the dependent processes of iwpserver.exe. And to properly shut down Instant WordPress, all those processes need to be ended.

Final Thoughts

Instant WordPress is a beautiful tool to use as a local WordPress development environment. It’s super easy to install, set up, and work with.

In case you are having problems setting up and using Instant WordPress on your Windows computer, feel free to reach out to me and I will help you out:

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