The most difficult part of working with dynamic, database-driven sites is testing. In order to make sure that your site is working correctly, you need to have a way to do both the design of the site and manage the dynamic content that comes from the database. It doesn't do you a lot of good if you build a beautiful product page that won't connect to the database to get the product information.
Dreamweaver gives you three ways to set up your testing environment:
- Edit and test locally
To do this, you need to have a functional Web server with PHP and MySQL installed on your desktop. If you have Windows, you can use a package to install WAMP (Windows Apache, MySQL, and PHP) and there are also packages to install on Macintosh computers as well. This is the best choice to get immediate feedback on what you're editing.
- Edit locally, then upload to a remote testing server
If you're working with other designers, then chances are you'll need to choose this option. When you need to check something dynamic on your site, you upload the pages to the testing server. You can also use the check-in and check-out features in Dreamweaver to keep from overwriting your co-workers' work.
- Edit directly on a remote testing server using local network
If your desktop is networked to the Web server, you can use this option to connect to the server.
I prefer to edit and test locally - it's faster and lets me get more work done before pushing the files live.
So, I will be storing the files for this site inside the DocumentRoot of my Apache Web server.