To date, I have created my website using only HTML and CSS. While I am in no way an expert, I do now feel comfortable enough with this, and am looking to create some more dynamic content.
Having done the usual googling, reading of forums and trying to make sense of Kevin Yank's book, I'm not sure what my next step should be.
My PC runs on Windows Vista
My shared hosting package with Hostgator (Linux) gives me access to MySQL databases, MySQL Database Wizard, phpMyAdmin and Remote MySQL.
For my own understanding (and to save bandwidth I guess), I am contemplating downloading WAMP, XAMPP or installing each individually, so that I can review what I'm doing locally. However either WAMP or XAMPP is my preference as I'd rather walk before I can run.
I've just read that I can get a XAMPP download for windows...this confuses me as I thought the 'X' stood for cross-platform. Maybe I'm just looking for problems.
Can anyone offer any advice on what I should do next, based on the info above and my very limited knowledge.
ps - I have no previous programming experience (but am happy to take the time to learn the skills I need for the requirement I have)
It depends on what you want, if you want to get up and running fast, download WAMP, XAMPP or similar package.
I never really saw the point in them myself, setting it up yourself from windows binaries takes 5 minutes and you have complete control over where everything installs. You're also not tied to the versions the packaged installs are using (for example XAMPP is still on PHP 5.2.9.
Ok it comes with phpMyAdmin but it's clunky and slow. You'll probably want to use a program such as navicat anyway.
As I remember you can choose the install locations where to install php/mysql/apache from custom install options. Also you can choose the modules that will be installed with it. And you can change with the setup program later these modules (add/remove) as you want. And for someone who has absolutely no experience before it will be a bit easier to install all-in-one than separately. Maybe the version thing is something you can't change if you want some exact versions of apps.
If you are not planning to put these services online and available from web but you just plan to use it offline on your comp then I atleast would just go with the all-in-one. If you plan to put it online you need to know anyway more about how to configure these.. with or without WAMP.
I would suggest using WAMP. They are quite up to date with their versions (php5.3.0) and it is easy to install and configure. I have installed XAMP, but I do not like the interfaces and the way it works - have not been able to use the php for custom made files.
One problem I do have with WAMP is the phpMyAdmin needs manual configuring before it can be used (I have needed to do this a few times and now I know what to do), but using it, creating aliases etc. is easy. (I am still a beginner and with a php course I was advised to get WAMP).
I prefer doing it myself because it's very clean, and if something breaks or I want to add something, I know how I set it up, so I can fix it.
And it is fairly easy to set everything up. Just download and install Apache/PHP/etc., open up Apache's httpd.conf and skim through it, open up php.ini and skim through that, and then paste the three lines from INSTALL.txt (for PHP) into httpd.conf. Done!
Install your own.
Configuring everything on your own gives a better appreciation and understanding of how to make changes, and on Windows 7 at least, apache seems to restart faster than it does in XAMPP.
I sometimes fall into taking too much time with these decisions, when I could just change my mind and do something else further down the track. For me it seems an all-in-one is the way to go just now, but if that starts to frustrate me, I'll self install.