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A free local WordPress development tool from Kinsta

Looking for the best WordPress local development tool?

With a local development tool, you can build and run WordPress sites from your local computer, with or without an internet connection. You can use it to develop new sites, create sites, test new plugins or themes, etc.

DevKinsta is a new WordPress specific local development tool from Kinsta, the popular managed WordPress host. But even though it’s from Kinsta, it is free for everyoneit doesn’t matter if you are a client of Kinsta or not (though Kinsta clients get special integrations with Kinsta Hosting – more on this later).

In our hands-on DevKinsta review, I’ll show you what this tool has to offer, how it works, and how it compares to another popular local WordPress development tool.

Let’s dig!

DevKinsta Review: The Features

DevKinsta is a WordPress-specific local development tool, so its high-level functionality is that it allows you to run WordPress sites from your local computer.

In more technical terms, DevKinsta uses Docker to create isolated virtual environments for each site. You can install a new WordPress site in just a few clicks and start playing right away.

One really neat thing is that DevKinsta includes its own built-in email client (Mailhog), which allows your site to “send” emails for you to analyze. Of course, these emails are not sent to real users, but you can view them on your local computer to make sure your WordPress site is sending the right emails at the right time.

For example, you can test notification emails, marketing automation emails, etc. This is something that not all local development solutions support, but it is nevertheless very important for testing WordPress sites.

You also get a built-in database manager through Adminer, which makes it easy to view your database, make changes, and run SQL queries as needed. And you can also enable HTTPS, which is essential for developing some sites (such as WooCommerce stores).

As for the environment itself, you can choose any modern PHP version when setting up your WordPress site. However, the only web server option is Nginx.

There is also an option to create a WordPress multisite installation by checking a box.

Finally, since DevKinsta comes from Kinsta, it comes with some special goodies for Kinsta users. You can deploy a site from your local environment powered by DevKinsta with just a few clicks to the staging area on your Kinsta account. You can also go the other way and create a live Kinsta site in your local area.

DevKinsta is available for Windows and Mac.

To start with DevKinsta, you need to download and install the DevKinsta software. If you have problems with the installation wizard, I recommend installing separately Docker Desktop software then restart DevKinsta. This should solve the problem and get you started.

If you have any issues with the installation or any other part of DevKinsta, Kinsta offers a community support forum who has official Kinsta participating team members.

Creation of a website

Once you set it up, you will see three options:

  • New WordPress website – quickly create a new local site using Nginx and MySQL.
  • Import from Kinsta – Kinsta clients can import their existing WordPress site from Kinsta hosting.
  • Custom website – you have a little more control over your local site environment, like being able to choose the PHP version or enabling WordPress multisite by checking a box. This is actually the full install option, while the “New WordPress Site” option is like a quick install.

DevKinsta creates a site

Manage your website

Once you’ve created your site, you’ll find yourself in the DevKinsta dashboard for that site, which shows you basic environment information and a variety of options. The options allow you to quickly:

  • Open the site in your browser
  • Push the site to your Kinsta development environment (if you are a Kinsta client)
  • Open the database manager (administrator)
  • Open the WordPress admin panel in your browser
  • Enable HTTPS
  • Enable WP_Debug mode with a single click (useful for troubleshooting)

DevKinsta Dashboard

If you open the global site list, you can also get many of the same options, including an option to quickly open the folder containing the site files:

List of DevKinsta sites

Editing the database

To allow you to edit/manage a site’s database, DevKinsta includes Adminer, which you can access through the options I showed you above.

It opens in your web browser and looks a lot like phpMyAdmin (this is what Kinsta offers on its hosting plans):

Administrator

Email tracking/debugging

One really useful feature is an option to track emails sent from your site (using Mailhog) so you can debug transactional emails.

To do this, DevKinsta has its own inbox type that allows you to see all the emails that your site(s) “send”.

To test this I have a…

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