Now I am not a software reviewer by any stretch of the imagination, but I still feel the need every now and then, when I run across something I feel is useful, to sing it’s praises, or at least describe why I feel it is useful. I am definitely singing the praises of VirtualHostX, developed by Tyler Hall.
VirtualHostX is a GUI solution that allows Mac based web designers/developers to virtually host multiple websites on their development machines. I won’t get into a long description of what virtual hosts are, if you aren’t familiar, you can find more information by Googling “Apache Virtual Hosts.” Basically virtual hosts allow you to host multiple website URLs (testsite1.site, testsite2.site, testsite3.site, etc…) from a single machine (in this case, most likely your development/design machine) and single IP address (more than likely you are using 127.0.0.1).
I love using v-hosts (that’s what they call them in the biz…) with my development environment (I prefer to use MAMP). Using v-hosts is so much nicer than having to constantly nest folders, or re-arrange my root folder while I am working on multiple projects. However, I always hated having to constantly edit
hosts files and
httpd.conf files. VirtualHostX makes all of the tedious configuration file editing and web server restarting a thing of the past.
Here is a quick run-down of features from the ClickOnTyler website that VirtualHostX provides:
- Automatically configures your Mac’s web server settings
- Works with MAMP, XAMPP, and Apple’s built-in web server
- Share your hosts with other user on the same local network
- Supports custom Apache directive
- Backup and Restore your web server settings
- Create a complete web development environment on your Mac
Installation is a breeze, and in case you do have problems, there is plenty of support on the ClickOnTyler Customer Support Forum. The installation walks the user through all the background changes that need to be made, and gives you the opportunity to back-up your configuration files. Basically by answering a few questions and entering your password, you are up, running and ready to create some v-hosts in just a few clicks.
There are a few screen shots available on the ClickOnTyler website, and I have to say the GUI is very easy to use. I had no problems setting up my MAMP server environment to work with VirtualHostX, and I literally had the whole thing running with three v-hosts in less than five minutes. Adding and removing v-hosts is quite simple, and basically just includes clicking the add button, naming your virtual URL and locating the directory of the project you are working on. It’s just that simple.
One of the main features I like about VirtualHostX is the seamless flow of setting up v-hosts. All necessary files are edited by the software itself, and there is no manual restarting of the web server needed.
You can download VirtualHostX for free if you only need to host three projects at a time, or just want to try it out before you buy it. However, if you would like to host more than three projects at a time, you will need to buy a license for $19.95. I personally have been using VirtualHostX for a little over three weeks, and feel that the $19.95 price tag has already saved me three times that amount in config file editing time alone. If you are a command-line geek (which I do fancy myself as) this software may not be for you. However, I find that the GUI is quite nice, and saves me quite a bit of time.
VirtualHostX’s ease of installation and simplicity in operation make it a great value at quite a reasonable price. I would highly recommend this software to any web designer/developer who would like to get some v-hosting going in their Mac/Apple based development environment.