Showdown of Windows Web Server Packages
When it comes to choosing a local web server package, every developer has a few key features in mind that must be included before they’ll commit to any specific option. With so many different packages available, however, it can be hard to discern which one is the right package for the job.
That’s why it’s worth pitting them against each other in head-to-head match-ups. Which ones are best for Perl developers? Which options best suit the needs of cross-platform users? Which ones are the most robust, in terms of features and packages? It’s time to find out in this showdown of Windows-based web server packages.
Perl vs. a Lack of Perl: Who Comes Out Ahead?
One of the most easily forgotten programming languages used by web developers is Perl. While it was once the primary language used to create anything from discussion forums to content management systems, it was largely supplanted by PHP in the race to be more efficient, database-driven, and cross-platform ready. Even so, it remains an essential component when choosing a Windows web server package.
Among all of the big names, on a few include Perl. The first of these is XAMPP, a cross-platform web server package for developers. Server2Go, Z-WAMP, and The Uniform Server also include Perl 5.8, while competitors like WampServer and EasyPHP do not.
Cross-Platform Capability: Who Has it?
There are plenty of local web server packages for Windows, but only one of the big names offers a cross-platform solution that can work on Windows desktops and Linux environments simultaneously. That package is XAMPP, which brings cross-platform development to Apache, MySQL, PHP, and Perl, while the others focus on Windows only. If cross-platform compatibility is a must-have feature, then XAMPP is the clear winner.
Winners and Loses: Portability of the Local Server Environment
Just a few years ago, Windows developers were content to use a local web server package that didn’t move with them from place to place. That’s generally because developers had just one “development machine,” maybe an early smartphone or a non-smartphone, and no real need for easy portability of the files and environment that allowed them to develop web apps. That is no longer the case. With the rise of netbooks, tablets, and sophisticated smartphones, the web server has to be able to travel right alongside the developer.
In this area, just one of the major Windows web server packages comes out on top. Server2Go, as its name might suggest, is primarily focused on allowing developers to run the development environment from any device with an optical drive or USB port. The local web server software can be placed on either of these mediums, and it can be launched anywhere with a simple double-click. The competition offers nothing even close to this level of convenience.
Simplicity vs. Robust Package Availability
There are generally three tiers of package availability within the market for WAMP products. The first is the most basic, offering only what’s included in the acronym itself: Apache, MySQL, and PHP. For these basic needs, the best options are EasyPHP and WampServer. Their simplicity makes them lightweight and efficient, but they may not suit the needs of more advanced or demanding developers.
The second tier of WAMP products adds a second “P” to the acronym, in the form of Perl. Typically, Perl 5.8 is included as part of the local web server. This is the case with XAMPP, Z-WAMP, Server2Go, and The Uniform Server. All four options include the basics, as well as Perl, for a more complete solution when developing web applications. Finally, a fourth tier exists for those local web server packages that seek to support the broadest number of technologies.
There is just one package available to Windows users with this kind of high flexibility: Z-WAMP. The package contains the largest number of software packages available to developers, including Apache, MySQL, PHP, Adminer, MiniPerl, MongoDB, SQLite, and Alternative PHP Cache. Applications benefit from the efficiency of the cache system implemented, while the different database solutions allow for further optimizations. Developers will find themselves quite satisfied with the large array of options, particularly those with more advanced skill sets.
And the Winner Is…
Though the market for Windows web server packages is pretty competitive, most of the options available are basically the same thing with different names, websites, and slogans. The two packages that stand out from this crowd the most are Z-WAMP and XAMPP. In this respect, the winner of the battle between local server packages should be considered a tie.
XAMPP wins on a number of fronts, including its use of the Perl 5.8 development package and the ability of the software to be installed both on Windows computers and those running Linux. Because most developers are fluent in both systems, and typically use both environments simultaneously, this kind of cross-platform support cannot be understated in terms of importance and efficiency.
Z-WAMP brings its own brand of victory to the fight, though, with an extensive list of software packages that simply cannot be found in any of the other options — including XAMPP. Its broad support of new and old technologies makes it a no-brainer, especially among those who don’t frequently work with Linux. For this reason, it’s probably the best option for the largest number of Windows developers.
- XAMPP: http://www.apachefriends.org/en/xampp.html
- Z-WAMP: http://zwamp.sourceforge.net
- Server2Go: http://www.server2go-web.de
- UniformServer: http://www.uniformserver.com
- WAMP: http://www.wampserver.com/en
- EasyPHP: http://www.easyphp.org
Article thanks to NicheDesigns , Cairns-based web design agency .