Create a Local Development Environment on a Mac

Open Terminal

I usually do this by open the search option and search for Terminal.

Install Homebrew aka Brew

The first thing we do is install Homebrew. With Homebrew you can really turn your Mac into the development machine of your dreams.

Here’s how you do it:

/usr/bin/ruby -e "$(curl -fsSL"

Install Wget and Unzip

The next step is to install everything the other packages depend on. I am not getting into too much detail here. Here’s the list, just copy the command into Terminal and hit enter

Brew install wget
Brew install unzip
Brew install re2c

Install Apache

Brew install httpd

Add the Apache server to your start-up list so that it automatically starts when you reboot your Mac. Do this as follows:

brew services start httpd

Install and config PHP

Brew install php

Add PHP to your start-up list so that it automatically starts when you reboot your Mac. Do this as follows:

brew services start php

Edit php.ini. Mine is located in /usr/local/etc/php/7.3/.

Get SSH2 working on a Mac

Brew install openssl
Brew install libssh2

Download and install the PHP 7 module for SSH2. I personally like to keep my Mac as clean as possible, and if you also wish to do that I suggest you create a ‘src’ dir in your root, the CD into that dir and download and extract the zip file as stated below:

cd pecl-networking-ssh2-php7
sudo make install

Now here comes the most tricky part of all.

If you are as unlucky as me you get a bunch of errors and warnings after running the make command. It took me half a day to figure out how to work around it, so here’s my solution:

The errors occur because they forgot to typecast variables in C, so we need to do this ourselves to get to the next step in this installation guide.

Edit ssh2_fopen_wrappers.c, I personally prefer doing this in an IDE like Visual Studio Code.

We only need to solve the errors, in my case three, since these are the reason the installation of the PHP module for SHH2 failed. I have bolded the invalid operants and will show you the fix below.

/src/pecl-networking-ssh2-php7/ssh2_fopen_wrappers.c:1248:42: error: invalid operands to binary expression (‘zend_string’ (aka ‘struct _zend_string’) and ‘int’)
if (resource->path && resource->path[0] == ‘/’) {

/src/pecl-networking-ssh2-php7/ssh2_fopen_wrappers.c:314:24: error: invalid operands to binary expression (‘zend_string’ (aka ‘struct _zend_string’) and ‘int’)
if (resource->host[0] == 0 && context &&

/src/pecl-networking-ssh2-php7/ssh2_fopen_wrappers.c:300:24: error: invalid operands to binary expression (‘zend_string’ (aka ‘struct _zend_string’) and ‘int’)
if (resource->host[0] == 0 && context && psftp &&

Looking at the details of the error message we can see that we need to typecast integers into strings, and therefore we wrap the (bolded) variables with typecast functions itoa().

  • itoa(resource->path[0]) == ‘/’
  • itoa(resource->host[0]) == 0
  • itoa(resource->host[0]) == 0

That’s it, we can now move on, run make once more, and finish this part of the installation by running sudo make install. But remember where the files are installed, you well need to use this location later. Mine are placed in /usr/local/Cellar/libssh2/1.8.0.

Edit php.ini again and add

Brew install autoconf

Install MySQL server

Brew install mysql

Again, if you want to have MySQL in your start-up list, you can do so with the following command:

brew services start mysql

The first time you will have to log in as the root user, and you don’t need a password.

mysql -u root

Once logged in we will have to create a new user, grant him the required privileges and the alter him so the user can also log into phpMyAdmin. Here’s how you do it:


GRANT ALL PRIVILEGES ON *.* TO 'giorgio'@'localhost'

ALTER USER 'giorgio'@'localhost' IDENTIFIED WITH mysql_native_password BY 'PASSWORD';

You can, of course, use any username, and don’t forget to change the default password ‘PASSWORD’ into something slightly more secured…

Since this is my development machine, I prefer to keep user root without a password. It might save me a lot of frustration at some point.

To exit MySQL you can type \q and hit enter.

Install PHPMyAdmin

To install PHPMyAdmin and make it work, you will also have to edit the httpd.conf file. Here are the steps to take:

Brew install phpmyadmin

To enable phpMyAdmin you will have to add the following code to httpd.conf:

Alias /phpmyadmin /usr/local/share/phpmyadmin
<Directory /usr/local/share/phpmyadmin/>
   Options Indexes FollowSymLinks MultiViews
   AllowOverride All
   <IfModule mod_authz_core.c>
      Require all granted
   <IfModule !mod_authz_core.c>
      Order allow,deny
      Allow from all

Finally, restart Apache and browse to http://localhost/phpmyadmin, and voilà!

Here’s a really good guide about SASS, I suggest you scan it to understand what SASS is all about.

Install SASS

If you are a web developer like me, you might find it cool to install SASS as well. Here’s how you do it with Homebrew:

brew install sass/sass/sass

(Note to self) Here’s how you compile and compress (minify) your sass files:

sass style.scss:../stylesheets/style.css --style compressed

Install Pure-FTPD

Brew install pure-ftpd

I will add some more details about creating a Pure-FTPD user and everything related. But first, here’s a bonus:

Add a domain to your host file for local development

sudo nano /etc/hosts

And add your domain as follows, pointing to which is your localhost:

And don’t forget, you must also flush your Mac’s DNS cache with the following command:

sudo killall -HUP mDNSResponder