Macs make up a disproportionate number of the computers used for web development. Of the half dozen development shops I know, all use the Mac for development over Windows PCs. There’s a reason why NASA’s engineers displayed all those workers using Macs on the Curiosity Mars lander project. Macs are versatile.
For web development, the Mac has many choices which range from free to not so much. Your Mac is capable of running the popular Apache web server, MySQL database app, even the PHP scripting engine.
Cheap and Difficult: If you’re on a budget, you can setup your Mac with Apache, MySQL, PHP, and other components for free. Everything you need to create a robust web development platform is available for download; most are open source, so there’s no cost.
That said, you have to know what you’re doing. Setup is not always point and click. If you need a simpler solution at low cost, those exist, too.
MAMP: This package of applications gives you a one-click solution to turn your Mac into a personal web server, complete with all the goodies to develop nearly anything that’s web based. MAMP means Mac, Apache, MySQL and PHP, but comes with more, including phpMyAdmin, SQLiteManager, curl, XCache, and many other development components.
MAMP Pro: The big brother to MAMP is MAMP Pro, a commercial application suite with control panel that does most of the heavy lifting and setup necessary to turn your Mac into a bona fide web server.
WebStart: This suite of apps is similar to MAMP Pro. WebStart features a control panel to manage the basic web components, though it comes with fewer options than MAMP Pro at a slightly lower price tag.
MAMPStack: Also free is the Bitnami MAMPStack which features a clever wizard to install and setup the components you need. And MAMPStack is loaded with web development components.
As with the other web development options, MAMPStack deploys Apache, MySQL, PHP, and many others for Mac, Windows, and Linux PCs. This is a good package to setup and manage web sites, web applications, and much more.
MAMPStacks setup isn’t as simple as MAMP Pro, but the price makes it an attractive choice for development.