Now that I'm doing more PHP-based web development, I decided that it might be time to install PHP properly on my laptop and run Apache locally to test my sites. PHP is great, but there's great potential for messing things up royally, and in full and embarrassing view of your users.
There's a series of great tutorials on MacDevCenter starting here, which gives you a good overview of using Apache as a development server. Sitepoint.com has some useful pointers if you want to set up VirtualHosts, so that you can have:
point to the directory /Users/me/Sites/blog. You can set up as many of these as you like, so that links rooted in your online site still work in the test server.
I got all of that working fine, with a lot of help from the incredibly
easy packages available at Server
have Apache 2, PHP with all the bells and whistles on and MySQL, all of
which can be installed with an easy
*.dmg package. There are also
useful preference panes for Apache and MySQL, which let you quickly turn
the server on and off and edit the config files, which is very
convenient. It all went amazingly smoothly. Now I should be able to
tinker away to my heart's content in the privacy of my own machine.