Setting up a bbPress dev environment with XAMPP

When Rex Baldazo recently tried to put the latest release of bbPress software on his site, the upgrade failed. He walks you through the steps he took to create a fully functional development copy of his personal site.

I'm lazy, so when it comes to my personal Web sites, I tend not to do the right thing and set up a dev environment first. Instead, I just deploy stuff and work on the templates directly in my live Web site. I keep copies of the templates locally before I go messing around, so I figure the worst that can happen is the pages on my site will go down briefly if I accidentally put in a syntax error. I can back it out pretty quickly and restore the site, so why bother with a dev or test environment first?

Recently though I wanted to upgrade the software on my site to the most recent release. When the upgrade process failed, I realized that I needed to  revert the entire site to the original templates and set up a dev environment so I could test out the upgrade and figure out what I did wrong.

I slapped this site together because I was looking for an avenue to vent about yet another weird set of bugs in the Oracle Portal. I was able to get the site online only a few hours after I registered the domain because I already had a hosting plan. I uploaded bbPress, which is a powerful yet easy to manage bulletin board system from some of the same folks who created WordPress. I hadn't really touched the site since I set it up back in January, and my attempt to upgrade bbPress to the latest version blew up for me.

My first step was to set up a local development environment to support bbPress -- this means Apache, MySQL, and PHP. I really like the way XAMPP rolls all those into a single ZIP file and wraps a simple GUI around the whole package to let you start and stop the various components. Plus, it's great because it doesn't have to be installed -- you can run it immediately after unzipping the whole mess as long as you unzip into the root directory of your hard drive with the \xampp folder. I downloaded the latest version and unzipped it onto the C drive, thus it's in C:\xampp.

In the xampp directory, you should see a file called xampp-control.exe. Double-click that to launch the administration utility.

XAMPP Control Panel

I don't use the options to install and set up the components as services because I don't use this all the time. I just click Start next to the components I need. In this particular case, you'll need both Apache and MySql, so start both of those.

Now launch a browser and go to the http://localhost address. You should see the XAMPP Web site.

XAMPP start page

In the left-hand menu bar, scroll down until you see the Tools section. Click on phpMyAdmin.

From the phpMyAdmin page, click the Privileges link and then click on the Add a New User link. Here I created a database and user to match the configuration used in my existing OraclePortalSucks bbPress setup. You can create whatever name and database you like -- just jot it down because you'll need the info to edit the config.php later. Then scroll to the bottom of the page and click the Go button.


Now I had to get the PHP templates and the database contents from my site. The PHP templates were easy -- just FTP them into a local folder. I called the folder "portalsucks" and put it in the C:\xampp\htdocs directory. Then I edited the config.php file in that portalsucks directory. Since I had created a database and useraccount with the same name as in the actual site, I only had to change the host string:

define('BBDB_HOST', 'localhost');

I also changed the domain and path from the original settings:

$bb->domain = '';$bb->path = '/';

to something appropriate for my local configuration:

$bb->domain = 'http://localhost';$bb->path = '/portalsucks/';

The last step was to download the database. My hosting company uses phpMyAdmin as well, so I selected the database and clicked the Export option. I just left all the default values and clicked Go. That generated a textarea that I cut-and-pasted into a local file which I could then import into my local phpMyAdmin.

Since I had already created the database, I did have to edit the SQL to comment out the CREATE DATABASE command; otherwise, phpMyAdmin complains because you're trying to create a database that already exists.

I now have a fully functional development copy of my site. I just need to roll up my sleeves and figure out why my attempt to upgrade bbPress failed.