Modern web applications continue to become more complex and feature-rich, and as a result, the environments needed to run these applications similarly continue to be refined for optimal performance. Local development environments should not be excluded from the mix, as they are where most of the work gets done.
Once considered an afterthought, it is now accepted that local development for Drupal and WordPress needs to be fast, easy to use, and provide environmental parity—reducing time spent reconciling differences in application behavior between a developer’s local environment and the remote production environment. Organizations should seek to use local tools that integrate well with the larger development infrastructure and maximize the time a developer or designer can spend writing code.
Sites on Pantheon are built around industry-standard tools and practices to move code and content quickly and easily to and from most local development solutions. Pre-configured version control ensures that code is deployed in a methodical fashion, and our command line tool, Terminus, can pull down database or media file backups when needed.
Kalabox is a local development environment built around Docker containers. It includes integration with the Pantheon platform and also has several popular debugging and automation tools, making it an excellent option for developing quickly and easily. Additionally, it is a cross-platform application with technical support available. It supports both Drupal and Wordpress development, and is the closest analogue available to the distributed Pantheon environment.
Kalabox offers an accurate and seamless local development experience for developing on Pantheon; able to push and pull code and directly and securely from the platform when needed. Additionally, it provides Grunt, Gulp, and other frontend automation—along with PHP debugging tools—allowing developers to push to the Pantheon platform with a high degree of confidence that code will run as expected.
PHPStorm is a PHP Integrated Development Environment (IDE) built by JetBrains. IDEs generally do not include a local instance of a web application, rather they provide text editors, debugging, and deployment tools. PHPStorm includes many features, and is further expandable with plugins. While it is designed for PHP development in general, there are specific customizations for both WordPress and Drupal that give PHPStorm contextual help while coding and help developers adhere to coding standards.
PHPStorm is an ideal default coding tool to use with Pantheon. The IDE includes it’s own command line terminal, ftp client, as well as a GUI-based version control tool. It also includes support for multiple different local development options, such as Docker, Vagrant, and more. It provides excellent PHP debugging tools for isolating code related issues.
Valet is a lightweight development environment for Mac users. While many other local development options require the use of a virtual machine, Valet runs natively on Mac. This means performance is likely to be faster than running a “machine within a machine.” This is a good choice for developers who prefer speed and agility over features in a local environment.
Since this is a development environment running on Mac, the database and any other tools such as caching or debugging can be installed, based on the developer's preferences. Git and Terminus are quick and easy ways to move code and content from the local development environment and Pantheon. This makes Valet an ideal solution for users who are already familiar with the command line and know how to install additional tools or libraries when needed.