Introducing Boss Box – a WordPress ready development environment

Local Development

A modern, easy to configure, WordPress ready Vagrant box, perfect for local development.

As a developer, one of the most important pieces of technology I use daily is my chosen virtual server stack. Depending on your operating system of choice, there are a few solid options out there, but since discovering Vagrant I've always preferred it over other options. A preconfigured Vagrant box is, in my opinion, the closest you can get to a local, real world web server without actually building one yourself (and I've actually done that as well), all possible from a virtual machine that is just as easy to discard and replicate should you need to.

While there are many WordPress developer friendly options out there, from VVV to 10up's WP Docker, I found Scotch Box a little while ago and it provided me with the best combination of features and ease of use. I liked it so much I even customised it a little further and released that customisation on GitHub.

Why ScotchBox?

What I enjoyed the most about ScotchBox was how easy it was to get up and running for my existing workflow. I tend to work on a few client projects at a time so it means at any one time I have two or three web project folders I am busy with. All of the existing options tended to shoehorn me into a specific workflow/url mapping/directory structure and configuring them to fit my setup seemed like a lot of work. ScotchBox was different, I could just take the Vagrantfile, pop it into my project web root directory, start up ScotchBox and everything just worked.   

Why customise?

There were however a few things missing or not set up exactly how I would have liked it

  • It did not come with PHPMyAdmin installed and I like using PHPMyAdmin for quick data lookups.
  • While it offered the option to run multiple sites on one box, it required a little too much editing of the Vagrantfile to use the same base box for different projects at the same time.
  • It did not support Xdebug out of the box.
  • The MySQL root password was 'root', I always use 'password', meaning I had to edit each site's wp-config.php to change it.
  • Finally, I prefer my vagrant configuration files to reside inside a folder called 'vagrant', so that there is less clutter in my web root.

This is what lead to the customised version of ScotchBox I wrote about earlier.

Then why BossBox?

ScotchBox has served me well for the past year and a half but I've been yearning to create something a little more streamlined but meeting my specific requirements ever since I first released my 'tweaked' version of it.

Earlier this year ScotchBox developer Nicholas Cerminara updated the free version of ScotchBox and released ScotchBox Pro, which includes an updated server version (Ubuntu 16.04) and therefore updated versions of all the bundled software. The Pro version also included the install script that he uses to create the base ScotchBox in the first place.

This gave me the opportunity to not only build my own version of ScotchBox but also remove all of the software that I don't specifically need and add some additional software and settings that I do need, and so BossBox was born.

BossBox comes in two variants, one with Apache as the web server and one with NGINX. Besides that, both versions are identical, WordPress ready development boxes that are easy to set up and use. I invite you to take a look, try one (or both out) and leave your feedback, either in a comment on this blog post or, if you find a bug, as an issue in the respective GitHub repo. The BossBox Vagrant, configuration and setup files, as well as the box itself, is licensed GPL 2.0, so feel free to use it, modify it and customise it to your needs.

Enjoy.

Filed under: Development, WordPressTagged with: ,

5 Comments

  1. It all sounds great, but I have a question regarding client access. Will clients be able to see the development sites? Will this run on an Apple computer?

    • Vagrant and Virtualbox are available for Mac OSx so it should run with no problems on an Apple computer. As to giving clients access, normally I would suggest developing locally and then uploading all your work to a staging site (typically on a server you maintain). That being said, BossBox comes with ngrok (https://ngrok.com/) pre installed, which you can use to create a tunnel from the outside world to your development site.

      • Wait. So what’s the difference between Vagrant and Virtualbox? Are there packages for both platforms?

  2. Vagrant is open-source software for building and maintaining portable virtual software development environments, e.g. for VirtualBox, Hyper-V, Docker, VMware, and AWS

    VirtualBox is a general-purpose full virtualizer for desktop and server machines.

    So BossBox is a Vagrant virtual server, that runs inside VirtualBox. Vagrant and VirtualBox can both be installed on either Windows, Mac or Linux environments and are both required for BossBox to work.

    • Ahhh. Now I get it. Much obliged for the clear answer! Happy New Year!


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