This report is part of a series of articles on some of the sessions presented at Denver WordCamp 2013, held Nov.16-17 at the PPA Event Center. The event offered two parallel tracks — one for “Bloggers, Business and Beginning Users” and one for “Developers and Designers.” This session, called "Breaking Up With *Amp," was presented by Luke Woodward as part of the developers track. For more session reports, see the index at right. → → →

Breaking Up With *AMP:
Finding a new true love — virtually

Luke Woodward

Luke Woodward


his session was part of the “Developers and Designers” track, with substantial emphasis on “developer.”

Luke Woodward is a Senior Strategic Engineer at 10up, a web development company based in Portland, OR that specializes in WordPress implementations. He came to Denver WordCamp with some bad news for *AMP: he’s breaking up with this long-revered web development environment. Why? Because he met Vagrant.

AMP is an acronym for a popular software stack used for web development. It stands for Apache HTTP Server (a web server), MySQL (a database) and PHP (a programming language). (The “P” can also stand for Perl or Python.) Together they comprise a widely-used, reliable development environment for dynamic web pages.

So why change? According to Woodward, he’s found a prettier, more accommodating paramour — Vagrant. Like *AMP, Vagrant is also a web development environment, but with a distinct advantage: it’s virtual.

In simple terms, a virtual machine is a completely independent operating system environment that can run on a computer. The trick is that you can run multiple virtual machines on a single computer, all of which are completely separate from the others. At the risk of oversimplification, it’s like having several different computers running on a single box. And that, declares Woodward, makes Vagrant a better date than *AMP.

“*AMP is installed on your machine,” he explains, “meaning it has access to your machine's resources.” Vagrant operates inside a virtual machine, meaning system resources and drive space must be explicitly shared.

Here are some more comparisons — good, bad or indifferent — offered by Woodward:

  • AMP has a decent GUI for starting and dealing with services. Vagrant uses a command line tool run with text commands.
  • AMP uses a pre-determined software stack intended to come close to a good number of server environments. Vagrant is an empty machine ready to be filled with whatever you might need.
  • AMP is a generally stable environment that doesn't change quickly; sometimes bugs can stick around. Vagrant is a highly customizable environment that can change whenever you like — but it can require more maintenance.
  • AMP is a single instance; it is what it is. Vagrant allows as many servers as you care to spin up and have the resources to power.

Who is the better companion? You’ll have to decide for yourself. You can find more information and a demo at WP Copilot. You can also find Woodward’s presentation slides here. The final slide offers a great list of links to resources for tools and learning materials.

You can learn more about AMP (and download the suite) at WampDeveloper Pro.