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Summary:

It’s no wonder that Headdress comes complete with a feature set that will appear to most avid graphic designers out there, at least those who dabble in the web. After all, it was designed by Twinsparc, your prototypical two-man design firm. At first glance, Headdress may […]

It’s no wonder that Headdress comes complete with a feature set that will appear to most avid graphic designers out there, at least those who dabble in the web. After all, it was designed by Twinsparc, your prototypical two-man design firm.

At first glance, Headdress may not seem like an exciting application. Those who have lived on a Mac long enough know that OSX ships with Apache and PHP preinstalled, so right out of the box you have a fairly decent web server. So, who needs Headdress?

I’d argue that many of you design-types out there will find serious value in what Headdress has to offer.

Headdress is a very nifty little app that allows you to host a website from any folder within your user account’s home folder. That means you’re no longer limited to stuffing your work into the “Sites” folder (which, if you’re like me, is already crammed with 15+ websites). You can add and remove sites to your liking, hosting any number of your projects simultaneously.

Once you’re no longer limited to a single folder, you can start putting your websites into a filing structure that makes sense to you — websites can live next to the source Photoshop files that gave birth to them without opening those files up to everyone on your network.

What more remarkable, is that Headdress uses the version of PHP that Apple has shipped along with OSX, so you can turn on PHP with the flip of a switch. No more digging in the Terminal to edit your httpd.conf files.

Headdress is a very simple and easy to use server that will appeal to anyone who just needs to host a PHP or XHTML based website. Unfortunately, Headdress doesn’t deliver a web server as robust as many of us are used to with Apache. While you can flip on PHP, you’re out of luck when it comes to SQL. There’s also no simple URL rewrite function.

If you’re looking for a simple server easily to host all of your design projects, take a look at Headdress. If you’re looking for a server to use for some serious development (Ruby on Rails or otherwise), you’ll have to look elsewhere. For now, I’ll keep to Apache and WEBrick.

The Bottom Line: Headdress is a very well designed little app that’s perfect if you’re requirements for a web server are relatively simple.

Product: Headdress
By: Twinsparc
Price: $14.99

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  1. Ever heard of MAMP?

  2. Second vote for MAMP. There’s also XAMPP. The former easily sets up a completely enclosed environment, the later uses the built in Apache, etc. but requires the terminal to configure.

  3. Richard Earney Monday, December 18, 2006

    Are you sure Headress is a server?
    I thought it amended the config files of your built-in apache host, and allows you to run several unique servers on a ‘localhost url’!!!

  4. …and MAMP is free…

  5. Headdress is no server application, it just configures your httpd.conf file.

  6. Thanks for the kind review!
    Just to clarify – MAMP and Headdress are not the same. MAMP is an alternative to the system Apache. MAMP is self contained and includes MySQL. Headdress is a handy way to control server configs – primarily for adding virtualhosts. Headdress can control both MAMP’s config and the system config. More details can be found in the forum.
    Also – look for the new version coming soon, it has an updated interface and more server control features.

  7. Headdress for Mac OS X Reviews » My Digital Life Monday, December 18, 2006

    [...] Headdress is a web server that runs on Mac OS X operating system, and capable of providing virtual hosting for several websites in local network, instead of just one site with default installation of OS X. Other features of Headdress include ability to turn on PHP support in Mac OS X with just one click, eliminates the need to nest the sites or dig through configuration files, ability to develop website on the go by treating Mac OS X laptop as offsite server running, able to create a new website with 3 simple steps with any folder in your user account can be designated as a your default sites folder, each with their own URLs. With Headdress, user can also broadcasts sites via Bonjour over your network. The Apple Blog reviews Headdress and concludes that “unfortunately, Headdress doesn’t deliver a web server ass robust as many of us are used to with Apache. While you can flip on PHP, you’re out of luck when it comes to SQL. There’s also no simple URL rewrite function. If you’re looking for a simple server easily to host all of your design projects, take a look at Headdress. If you’re looking for a server to use for some serious development (Ruby on Rails or otherwise), you’ll have to look elsewhere. For now, I’ll keep to Apache and WEBrick.” [...]

  8. Wow grammar/spelling check please.

  9. You guys are absolutely correct, Headdress is not a server. Not sure how that slipped in there!

    I’ve always been partial to Apache myself.

  10. On Web App Development, the “Sites” folder, and Ruby on Rails… at The Apple Blog Thursday, December 28, 2006

    [...] I’ve been working more in web development lately, both in PHP (picking up more freelance work) and learning Ruby on Rails. It’s always been something of a hobby of mine to try new things with web programming, but one thing always makes me clench my fists and gnash my teeth: the Mac OS X user “Sites” folder… It sounded like a good idea at the time, much easier than trying to wrestle Apache onto my Windows dev machine (always a futile endeavor). But when I more recently looked at my “Sites” folder, I found that I’m drowning in projects. Fortunately, our recent review of “Headdress” sparked my interest, as it fixes that problem, in a manner of speaking. At least, for the lighter work. I’ve been using PHP a bit more recently since I found CakePHP, which provides for some amazing development in the lines of Ruby on Rails (without the Ruby). The “pretty URLs”, scaffolding, MVC, and more – CakePHP does much of what RoR can do. But, if you still feel more inclined towards Rails, you don’t really need to worry about installing a Rails server on your development Mac (unless you plan on hosting it there as well). Locomotive, a nice open source project, will run and manage your Ruby web apps for you, using the latest package of Rails. The only thing you’ll have to install besides Locomotive itself is the MySQL server to handle the database functions. Loco always comes with the latest stable package of the Rails frameworks. The benefits of Locomotive include the fact that you don’t have to fight with installing Ruby on Rails manually, and you don’t have to keep your Rails project in the Sites folder unless you really want to. So, even though we have that folder intended for sharing/running our PHP/Rails-based web apps, we’re no longer confined to the limitations of the Sites folder. And, in the past year, packages and binaries have become available which allow us to easily get up and running with web development on Mac OS X. [...]

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