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MAMP Pro & MAMP 1.9.6

MAMP Pro & MAMP 1.9.6

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MAMP Pro & MAMP Editor's Review

MAMP is an acronym for Mac, Apache, MySQL, and PHP.

Since version the 1.6, MAMP and MAMP Pro have been reunited into a single distribution image. These products are now packaged together, so you may choose the one that fits best to your own needs. You can find in the distribution package a directory for each of these products. You can drag either one of them, or both into your Applications directory. You can also use both products but not at the same time because the servers would conflict.

Since these are distinct products, I am going to talk about them separately, but at the same time I am going to make some comparisons. I am going to start with MAMP because it is lighter and basically MAMP Pro can do the same job.

MAMP is an easy to install tool that provides beginners with a complete development tool. It's also helpful for developers who don't like spending time installing each tool and like to use the development platform package.

The MAMP folder must be placed in the 'Applications' folder or the application will fail to launch. In this case, it returns a precise error and it asks you to place the MAMP folder in the right location.

The listening ports for this development platform are not the default ones. These servers can be up and running, even though your built-in Apache or MySQL servers are on. Those listening ports can be modified from the application's control panel. Thus, for those who like to use the default ports: 80 for HTTP and 3306 for MySQL, they still have this option.

The administration interface of this platform is well integrated. You can access every Web tool under the same main menu that has been designed by the producer. Setting it up is easy but it requires some knowledge about all these programs.

The FAQ support section is not very long, but it provides some minimal information about using and configuring this platform. For more support, use the MAMP forums or the support teams for each individual application.

Since this platform comes as a development platform, it should be used as such. Usually, this kind of builds come with some security flaws. Some of these flaws are there because this is not dedicated for hosting. It was made to facilitate the software's use. The platform doesn't save time with the configuration, because it provides you with other issues.

MAMP's administration panel is minimal. The first thing that you can notice after you open MAMP Pro's administration panel after working a little bit with MAMP, is the fact that it provides a way much complex interface. Basically it can replace all the functionality provided by MAMP. It also provides new features.

MAMP Pro provides a better structured interface. Unlike MAMP, this solution includes a security adviser that warns you if you use insecure settings. This makes it more appropriate for Web hosting than MAMP. The latter won't tell you anything about the security part. It also provides you with the possibility to run the servers as a different user (www/mysql) instead of running it under your administrator account. The listening ports for Apache and MySQL can be easily changed. You can find this whole functionality under the 'General' tab.

The 'Apache' tab gives you the possibility to enable/disable a list of Apache Modules that are included into the distribution package. The interface provides you short explanations about each of these modules. Here you can also choose the local path to the log file, or you can review the existing log file.

The 'MySQL' tab allows to change the root's password. The security adviser warns you if you leave unchanged the default password. You can also check a flag that restricts the access to the local machine only. The interface also provides you with the possibility to open the included phpMyAdmin in order to administrate the database. This tool is included in MAMP. As in the 'Apache' tab, here you can chose the local path to the log file, or you can review the existing log file.

The only thing that's missing from the 'MySQL' tab is the possibility to do some more administration over the MySQL server. This can be easily fixed by using the Terminal, or if you would like a GUI (Graphical User Interface), then you can use MySQL Administrator, a tool that's included in MySQL AB's product: MySQL GUI Tools.

The PHP tab gives you the possibility to use certain features like a PHP switch between the 4th and the 5th version of this server side programming language, the possibility to customize the error reporting of your scripts, the log support with the possibility to choose a local storage path, and the possibility to review it, and the possibility to use optimization. The PHP can use Zend Optimizer, and/or a cache: eAccelerator, or XCache, or when the Zend Optimizer is turned off, you can also use APC for caching support.

MAMP Pro can also use a dynamic DNS service. This is very useful only for Web hosting, when you have a host that uses a dynamic IP (DHCP) connection to the Internet. The built in support offers access to dyndns.com and easydns.com services. You can customize the startup of these services. The log support works seamlessly as the log support of the other elements of this platform.

MAMP Pro uses the Postfix MTA (Mail Transfer Agent) that is built into your Mac OS X. You can also configure it to use a mail server directly from the MAMP Pro's administration interface. The producer refers to this Postfix support as to an "email server", when in fact Postfix is just a MTA. To have a proper email server you need a POP/IMAP server, and a SMTP server to work with an MTA though.

Another feature that's useful for Web hosting is the support for the virtual hosts. This support can be easily configured from the administration panel, and it allows you to use multiple domains on the same HTTP server, thus reducing the costs of the hosting itself by using a single machine that does the job for multiple HTTP hosts.

Pluses: MAMP is a complete development package while MAMP Pro is a complete Web development and Web hosting package. MAMP Pro has the support for Virtual Hosts and dynamic DNS, which makes it appropriate for professional Web hosting. It can use the Postfix MTA that's built into the Mac OS X. You can open the server logs easily from the MAMP Pro's menu. It has a good warning system that notifies you in case there's a security issue with the server's configuration. It also provides a PHP switch, the support for optimizer and cache. You can configure the built in MySQL server with the provided phpMyAdmin, and you have the possibility to do some basic MySQL management from MAMP Pro's administration panel.

Drawbacks / flaws: Even though the producer refers to MAMP Pro as a platform that has an email server, it could only use the MTA. Therefore, you need a well-configured POP/IMAP and a SMTP server in order to use the email functionality properly.

In conclusion: If MAMP isn't enough for you, the Pro version brings more features and a better administration interface. An alternative to this product is XAMPP, a complete free software (Open Source) solution.

version reviewed: 1.6

MAMP Pro & MAMP Publisher's Description

MAMP Pro is the commercial, professional grade version of the classic local server environment for OS X: MAMP. Designed for professional web developers and programmers, MAMP PRO allows easy installation and administration of their development environment under Mac OS X.

As a professional web developer you have to test your programs in detail.

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