If you don't know what this is, you probably don't need it. On the other hand, you might need it but not know it. If your a website designer or engineer, you might find it just about the most useful site there is if you're doing this job for the first time, or want to train someone else.
If you're building a website on a webhost which runs the Apache server on Linux, as most do, you'll know the nerve-wracking experience of uploading a new development or some new media that doesn't work as planned, and then having to pull it as fast as you can before any visitors see it. It can be as simple as a page of text on which there is some glaring typo you never noticed until it went "live", or something as disastrous as a formatting change which makes the entire site unreadable in one hit. And don't get me off on programming languages where a missed apostrophe crashes the whole thing and leads to hours of peering at close text with a magnifier.
So there are two main options: have a second, test site which is password protected so only you can see it, or have your test site on your desktop computer and have your disasters right there.
The first idea is pretty much essential if you're working with a team in different places, but it takes up more webspace as you need to copy everything at least once, and you probably don't back it up as often as you should nor keep enough notes to properly track all the changes because it's too much of a hassle.
The second option is great if you're working alone or with a team in the one place. It all happens on the desktop or laptop, you can make as many backups as you like, even onto USB memory sticks, and it's much easier to keep track of. But there's a good reason why a lot of people don't do it.
The trouble is, unless you're already running Linux at home and have the geek skills to implement a local server, you'll need to install a whole bunch of Windows or Mac software in which each part has a complex relationship with the others, involving the server itself, the programming language(s) and a database application at the very least. And in the past this was always a terrible hassle to do, and it was often just plain simpler to go the other way and try and do it all online. If you were a designer rather than an engineer, you wouldn't want to get your hands dirty, so to speak, messing around with all this stuff.
Enter the apachefriends.org project, which provides Windows and Mac users with a simple, self-installing package called XAMPP containing everything you need to create the same environment at home as your website will have online. All the basics are there, including Apache, PHP, Perl, MySQL, the FileZilla FTP server, the Mercury mail server, phpMyAdmin, Webalizer and more, plus there are add-ons for more esoteric applications. And it's all free, under the GNU license, which means everyone is able to take advantage of it and there's an active community able to help each other out.
When I first installed this I watched happily as it dumped a total of 8502 files onto my PC in under five minutes and was immediately ready to use. When I first started messing around building websites about 13 or 14 years ago I'd have given my right arm for this (I'm left-handed).
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