Create your own portable USB web development environment on a pen drive

This short article will help you assemble your own web development environment on your pen drive or mobile phone memory card, so that you can work from any Windows workstation you can lay your hands on. How is that!

Have you heard of Portable Apps? Portable apps is the best suite of portability-ensured applications. So, we won't try to create anything new! We would choose and pick a lot of portable apps and then throw in a few more applications, utilities and files which we would need. And we should be ready to take your web development along with you, around the world, if you choose!

Let's get started!

Hardware

A pen drive or a portable hard disk or memory card of your mobile. 4GB or 8GB storage should suffice for most requirements, including your growing data requirements for a year. Storage prices should drop further then and you can copy all our data to a fatter portable storage.

The PortableApps.com Suite

As I said before, we will build our portable web development toolkit around PortableApps. So let's get started by downloading the PortableApps.com Suite. Press the 'Choose your download' button and from the download page, select the 'Platform Only' version, which is a slim pack.

Install the Suite on to your portable storage and there you have your device ready for the next steps.

PortableApps.com gets you application files in .paf.exe format, which have to be installed using the PortableApps.com menu option Options->Install a new app....

Web Server and web development tools

We will start with creating our web and development environment.

  1. XAMPP - What's web development without a web server package? XAMPP (http://www.apachefriends.org/en/xampp-windows.html) is a full fledged Web server environment include Apache2, MySQL 5, PHP5, PHP4 + PEAR, SQLite, OpenSSL, phpMyAdmin, ADOdb, Mercury Mail Transport System, FileZilla FTP Server, Webalizer (for web traffic analysis) and Zend Optimizer. You also get a good number of addons. XAMPP is not actually a PortableApp, but integrates into the PortableApp environment using the XAMPP Launcher. Unlike other PortableApps.com applications, make sure you read the webpage at the below link. Also don't forget to download the XAMPP Launcher.
    URL: http://portableapps.com/apps/development/xampp
  2. Uniserver, instead of XAMPP - UniServer (www.uniformserver.com) is my preferred local Web environment. It unzips to a folder, includes Perl (apart from Apache, MySQL and PHP), has a useful web console, A UniController to start and stop the server, and includes applications like phpMyAdmin (for managing your MySQL databases), phpMyBackupPro (for backup of your MySQL data). All the more, it's small. You can also download plug-ins for FTP Server, Java containers (Resin and TomCat) and SOAP and REST. UniServer has been desktop web server for quite a few years now.
  3. Mozilla Firefox, Portable Edition - Download and install the world's favorite Firefox browser in a portable version. Enhance your browser with add-ons like Web developer toolbar, Greasemonkey and Pencil. Also, the Firefox Accessibility Extension will help test the accessibility aspects of your website.
    URL: http://portableapps.com/apps/internet/firefox_portable
  4. Notepad++ Portable is a full-featured text editor with syntax highlighting. So for your web development -- application programming and HTML hand-coding (assuming you know your <head> from your <body>), Notepad++ is your tool.
    URL: http://portableapps.com/apps/development/notepadpp_portable
  5. Nvu Portable & KompoZer Portable are WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) Web editors.
    URL: http://portableapps.com/apps/development/nvu_portable

Manuals and Help files

  1. PHP Reference - Download the PHP Manual (CHM) format.
  2. CSS Reference from W3Schools - W3 Schools provide a good CSS 2.0 reference in a single file. Download into your PortableApps drive and bookmark the local file in FireFox.
  3. MySQL Manuals - For your MySQL Reference, download the manual in CHM format into your PortableApps drive.

Design tools - Graphics Editing and Imaging

Let's add imaging and graphics tools to brighten up.

  1. GIMP Portable: For image editing and graphics, GIMP remains the best open source product.
  2. IrfanView is a good photo maintenance tool with features for quick cropping, resizing, format-conversion and batch processing. Plus, you can also easily take screenshots. Be reminded that this is not a PortableApp and you have to install to your PortableApps drive.
  3. Lightscreen Portable is a easy-to-use screenshot tool and a PortableApp.
  4. HeadOffice Spectroscope is a tiny color picker freeware which I use heavily. Download and install onto your PortableApps drive. Unfortunately, there is no integrated launcher available. Download the installer directly from http://www.headoffice.co.uk/ftp/spec14.exe
  5. Color Blender is a Javascript-based color blender tool from the CSS guru Eric Meyer. Download into your PortableApps drive as a static HTML and bookmark from Firefox.

Office and Project Management

  1. OpenOffice.org Portable gives you word processor, spreadsheet, presentations with Microsoft compatibility.
  2. AbiWord Portable is a lightweight word processor compatible with Microsoft Word files.
  3. Sumatra PDF Portable - a lightweight PDF viewer.
  4. PHProjekt or eGroupWare are web-based project management tools which you can install within your portable web server environment.
  5. Mozilla Sunbird, Portable Edition adds calendar and task management with a familiar interface.
  6. GnuCash Portable provides accounting, expenses and financial management.
  7. Task Coach Portable is the PortableApps to do list and task manager.
  8. SugarCRM is an excellent web-based CRM application which you can install on to your web environment.
  9. PNotes Portable gives stick notes to go.

Communication

  1. Mozilla Thunderbird Portable Edition is the PortableApp for all your email (including encrypted) e-mail and address book.
  2. Lightning Extension (for Thunderbird) is a lightweight extension for your calendar and tasks.
  3. Pidgin Portable and Miranda IM Portable provide chat with AOL, MSN and Yahoo users in an easy-to-use interface.

Deployment Tools

All those tools to help you get your website from your PC onto your web host.

  1. FileZilla Portable is a the full-featured portable FTP client.
  2. Putty Portable is a portable SSH and TELNET client.
  3. WinSCP Portable is a UI-based SFTP, FTP and SCP client with a simple Windows Explorer like interface.

Utilities

  1. WinMerge Portable for file comparison and merging.
  2. 7-zip Portable or PeaZip Portable for file compression (zip/unzip) and archiving.
  3. InfraRecorder Portable is for CD/DVD burning.

You might want to check and add other PortableApps games or utilities. PortableApps keeps adding new applications and updating existing applications at regular intervals. So keep a watch on all those smashing apps.

So, by now, your Portable Web Development Kit is up and ready to be taken around. Happy web development!