How to Build Websites More Efficiently Using Flywheel Local

by | Nov 11, 2019 | Divi Tutorials | 46 comments

This tutorial was highly requested! I started doing our new Divi LIVE Quick Tips series and mentioned that I was using Local by Flywheel (by Flywheel Hosting) in the tutorial, and received lots of requests for a tutorial.

So here it is! In this tutorial I’m going to teach you what Local by Flywheel is, why you should use it, and of course, how to use it too.

What is Local by Flywheel?

Flywheel Local is the most popular Local Web Development tool for creating WordPress sites. It allows you to quickly ‘spin up’ a WordPress install without using a web host. It’s of course brought to us by the super awesome hosting company: Flywheel Hosting (which we highly recommend by the way).

It all happens from your LOCAL computer. Your computer essential acts as the web server, but without letting in inbound traffic from the internet (unless you want to allow someone to preview the site such as a client…but we’ll get to that).

How much does Local by Flywheel Cost?

Local by Flywheel is 100% free for the standard version. It allows you to create unlimited local websites. There is a premium version that can be viewed here, however that is not the focus of this tutorial, and most users will not need to upgrade to a paid plan.

Why Use Local by Flywheel (or any local development tool)?

Developing Locally Saves You Time

There’s a few reasons to develop locally, but the biggest reason is speed. Developing locally saves you a TON of time. Short answer: it’s faster to save to your local computer than it is to a web server in a different location.

When you are designing/building websites you’re typically doing a lot saving. Whether that is saving/publishing within WordPress pages/posts, Divi, Plugin Settings, FTP, etc, there’s a lot saving that is happening to your database or server files.

When you’re doing this the typical way to a normal web host, it takes a little bit of time for that save to perform. It travels across the internet to the physical location of your host to process that request and save your work. Depending on the speed of your server, physical location of the server, as well as your own internet connection (as well as other factors), this may take only a second or two, or maybe longer.

However, even if everything is as fast as possible, it still is going to take more time than if you were saving your work to your own local computer. And those seconds add up fast.

Additionally, have you ever wanted to test a new Divi feature or something else really quickly? Flywheel Local allows you to spin up a new WordPress install in seconds, seriously.

Developing Locally is More Secure & Private

Sometimes you want to create a new website without anyone else knowing that it exists. Maybe it’s not necessarily some super secret confidential subject matter, but you just want privacy. Developing locally gives you that privacy.

Even if you use a Coming Soon plugin to block traffic (sidenote: we have a free lightweight maintenance mode plugin for Divi), there’s still a risk that someone will know what you’re up to if you build on a web server; such as the many employees of the hosting company. I actually had a friend who was high up at a hosting company. But for his own side projects, he used a totally different hosting company because he didn’t want the people that he worked with/for knowing what he was working on for his side projects.

Developing Locally Can be Done without Internet

Have you ever had a long flight and wanted to work on a website project? I have, and after paying for the overpriced in-flight WiFi, I immediately regretted it. The very slow and unreliable internet made making updates to a website a very painful process.

Developing locally using Local by Flywheel allows you to create new websites without internet.

How to Create WordPress Websites Locally Using Local by Flywheel

Now we get to the fun part, actually using the product!

Step One: Download and Install Local by Flywheel

Go to LocalbyFlywheel.com and Click the Download Button, then install like you would any other app.

Step Two: Follow the Onscreen Prompts for New Site Creation

You’ll simply click the “Create a New Site” button (or the plus sign button in the bottom left) to start the new site creation. It’s SUPER simply and takes just a few seconds. You’ll give the site a name (click advanced options to customize the URL), set login credentials, and that’s it.

Note: I’m using Dark Mode on MacOS so your Local by Flywheel may look a bit different.

Once the site is created, you’ll see the below screen with the details. From there, you can click on the “Admin” or “View Site” buttons to go to either WP Admin, or your newly created websites homepage.

That’s it! Once your site is created, you can log in using the credentials you set and begin working locally and enjoying the speed benefits and privacy of your own local WP environment 😊

How to Speed Up Your Development Workflow with Local by Flywheel & Blueprints

So the whole point of this post is to show you how to create websites faster. Simply using Local by Flywheel will tremendously speed things up for you.

But you can take it one step further using the Blueprint feature that is built into Local by Flywheel.

Blueprints in Local are exactly what they sound like. They’re site templates that you can use as a starting point instead of starting with a blank WP install.

We all have things that we do on every single website that we build.

For example, here’s common tasks that most Divi users will do on every new website:

  • install Divi
  • add Divi API credentials
  • set desired permalink structure
  • set homepage as front page
  • install Divi plugins
  • install other common plugins (forms, backup, etc)

So by using a Blueprint that has all of the above tasks these already completed, and then creating all new sites for that Blueprint, you can save yourself some valuable time!

You can of course create multiple Blueprints allowing you to have templats for different types of sites you create frequently.

How to Create Blueprints in Flywheel Local

Step 0: First, create a new website (if you haven’t already) that you want to be your Blueprint and perform all of your common tasks. This will be the site that will be copied.

Step One: Right Click on the Site You would Like to Make a Blueprint of, and ‘Save as Blueprint’ 

Step Two: Give Your Blueprint a name (example New Site Template), then click ‘Save Blueprint’

Other Awesome Local by Flywheel Features

Creating Live Demo Links

Flywheel’s Local tool let’s you create live links that can be accessed from anywhere in the world. Some refer to this as “tunnel” since it’s connecting to your local machine.

This is SUPER useful for two reasons:

  1. You can show the sites to others, such as clients, team members, etc., without having to migrate the site to a live server.
  2. You can test your new site on mobile devices before it goes live on the server.

This is super easy to enable. Just click the “Enable” link next to “Live Link” at the bottom of the site setting screen. And boom, your site can now be accessed from anywhere in the world. It’s sort of like magic.

Pushing Your Site Live to Flywheel Hosting

Local by Flywheel is by Flywheel Hosting (duh!) so of course they’re going to make it super easy to integrate your local dev site and their super fast awesome hosting. It’s literally just a click away once you’ve logged into your Flywheel account.

You can push a new website built with Local to your Live Hosting account with Flywheel.

And, you can pull down a Live site into Local by Flywheel.

Since Flywheel is now owned by WP Engine, you’ll soon be able to deploy to WP Engine direcly from Local as well. Pretty slick!

There’s a lot of other (smaller) features in Local by Flywheel that can be found on the features page.

 

If you have any questions or future tutorial requests, please let me know in the comments!

46 Comments

  1. Michael

    Thanks for your work on this article Tim.

    Is this “similar to / better than” Desktop Server?

    Reply
    • Tim Strifler

      Hey Michael,

      You’re welcome! Thanks for taking the time to read/watch. To answer your question, yes to both (in my opinion). It’s definitely similar, and I think it’s better. I used Desktop Server for years, but it got clunky and slow and the UI isn’t very well designed. Plus, the free version of Local by Flywheel gifs you unlimited sites.

      Reply
      • Michael

        Thanks Tim.

        Given that it is initially a free app, if one was to go the ‘pro’ route, will it ‘move’ site builds to their/a online home? I read that it is possible with Flywheel as one’s host, but I’m very happy with my current hosting environment, so befoe getting all gung-ho, I’m curious if it offers that production facet.

        Reply
        • Tim Strifler

          You can migrate to other hosting without using the pro version, but you’ll need to use your own migration tool such as Migrate Guru (highly recommend and free) 🙂

          Reply
  2. Mike

    Replay.

    The background led color match with the flywheel ci … Gene. Love that detail, Tim! Great cast as always, btw.!

    Reply
    • Tim Strifler

      Thanks Mike! I was hoping someone would appreciate that 😄

      Reply
  3. Beat Markwalder

    Hi Tim, can Local be used independently from Flywheel hosting ?

    Reply
    • Tim Strifler

      Hey Beat, thanks for watching. Yes, absolutely! Since Flywheel owns the app, they of course make it extremely easy to push and pull from their hosting. But, if you don’t use Flywheel then you can use another tool to migrate from local to live. I highly recommend Migrate Guru. It uses their servers to handle the migration so it doesn’t fail like Migration plugins can. https://wordpress.org/plugins/migrate-guru/

      Reply
  4. Robert McMillen

    Tim,

    Thank you for this tutorial. Very valuable. I use some of your plugins.

    I’m curious about the integration with a Production site if you are not using Flywheel’s hosting. I host on Cloudways. Flywheel would be great for the initial implementation and publish to a Production environment. But what about ongoing maintenance?

    If I take a copy of Prod and download to local by Flywheel, I want to be selective in what I later update on the live site so that I don’t overlay statistics, user info, etc… that have occurred while I’m off editing.

    That’s the concern I have and I don’t see a way to consistently do that and ensure I’m not damaging production.

    I looked at their hosting plan and cannot determine the CPU capabilities they offer in their plans, so it’s hard to compare with Cloudways.

    Reply
    • Tim Strifler

      Hey Robert, that’s definitely a valid concern. I agree that initial site builds is the ‘low hanging fruit’ in terms of easily integrating it into your existing workflow. But yes having a staging/dev site for an existing site has it’s own challenges for sure, and that’s true whether you use Local by Flywheel or a typical staging/dev environment. There’s tools such as Migrate DB Pro that can push and pull certain parts of your site only, but that isn’t a perfect solution. I typically will do testing and development in a local/dev environment and then either do the same edits/updates again on the live site or manually move them over. I’m always paranoid of overriding things considering there’s so much activity on my site.

      Reply
  5. David Zizza

    And for the record. Replay. USA. In a browser.

    Reply
    • Tim Strifler

      Great, thanks for watching David 🙂

      Reply
  6. Jenn

    Watching on the blog. Thank you!

    Reply
    • Russell Horton

      Hi Tim

      Great video, thank you. Can you please just clarify how I would push to live site if I don’t use hosting with Flywheel. Would I need to install migration plugin on the Blueprint site: such ‘WP Migration Guru’ plugin. I would then just need to update the plugins on the Blueprint site and repeat for a new migration /client?

      Reply
      • Tim Strifler

        Yep exactly! Migrate Guru is the way to go for sure, but you can use any migration tool to migrate from Local to Live 🙂

        They make it super simple to push to Flywheel’s servers, but it’s just a few extra steps to migrate to another host.

        Reply
  7. Sigrid

    Hello Tim,
    thank you. It seems a really good idea to use this app.

    What plugin would you use to upload the finished site to the host server and how do you do that step by step, manually? What has to be considered?

    I understand that Flywheel gives away the app, to make their services appealing to new potential customers. However, I live in Austria and use a German/Austrian company, as do some of my clients, so it is unlikely that we will switch.

    I am still quite new to all this, and while I am confident with Divi, everything beyond that, say server side, is still mostly a mystery to me.

    Thank you for your work, it is much appreciated.
    Best regards
    Sigrid

    Reply
    • Tim Strifler

      Hey Sigrid,

      Great question. I recommend using the tool Migrate Guru. It will allow you to easily migrate your website (for free). There’s also plenty of migration plugins but depending on your hosting those can have issues. Migrate Guru has never caused any problems for me.
      https://wordpress.org/plugins/migrate-guru/

      Reply
  8. David Zizza

    Can you import sites from other sources?

    Reply
  9. Chaz DeSimone

    So the only catch is that once a site is complete in Flywheel Local, it must go live on WPEngine? Or can it be uploaded to another host such as SiteGround, which is who I host with? (I would use WPE for all my sites if it was affordable.)

    Reply
    • Tim Strifler

      They make it easiest to push to Flywheel hosting (and soon WPE), but you can migrate to any hosting company using a migration tool. The best tool I’ve used is Migrate Guru because it doesn’t use hosting resources on either side (like a typical migration plugin does) but instead uses their Migrate Guru server resources.
      https://wordpress.org/plugins/migrate-guru/

      Reply
  10. Nicolas Leclair

    Hi, watching from the blog, Montréal, Canada. I understand it is a bit like using MAMP to build a web site locally.

    Reply
    • Tim Strifler

      Yep, exactly! But the UI and extra features make it much better 🙂

      Reply
  11. Lisa

    Blog great tool

    Reply
    • Tim Strifler

      Thanks Lisa, and yes I agree 🙂

      Reply
  12. Javed Shah

    Hi Tim

    Thank you for a nice Dev-Environment. I am your life time member and come from EMAIL blast.

    Regards
    Javed

    Reply
    • Tim Strifler

      Thanks Javed for watching and for being a Lifetime All Access member here!! 🙂

      Reply
  13. Michelle

    This is exactly what I need! But can I use it if I don’t have Flywheel hosting? If so, how do you push to live?

    Reply
  14. Fatih Karlıdağ

    How about WP-Multisite installations and hosting with a different service than flywheel itself? That would have made this tutorial awesome and unique. Otherwise this seemed just like a commercial for flywheel. I‘ve been looking into Local by Flywheel a long time for using as a staging environment. Unfortunately hosting with another host than flywheel, I couldn’t get to use it in a way I felt completely good with.

    Reply
    • Tim Strifler

      haha sorry you felt that way, but nope, this wasn’t a commercial for Flywheel. I’m not paid by them or endorsed in any way. I’m simply promoting their free tool because it’s awesome and a huge timesaver, and I had users request a tutorial when I used it on other tutorials. 🙂

      You can definitely use other hosting with Local, and simply migrate using a migration tool. I recommend Migrate Guru. It’s completely free and more reliable than most plugin migration tools. Or, you can use a tool like Migrate DP Pro or WP-Staging for pushing and pulling from live to staging.

      As for multisite, Local by Flywheel definitely has the option built in. You can enable it when you’re creating a new site (Advanced Options). I didn’t spend time on multisite since the majority of users don’t use it.

      Reply
  15. Tad

    Hi Tim,
    Great tutorial.
    Quick question: as I don’t host with Flywheel, when I’m ready to migrate a Local by Flywheel-built site live, is the app ‘kind-enough’ to allow that to another hosting site, or would I need to use another migration tool (such as Duplicator, etc.) ?
    Thanks!

    Reply
  16. Alexa Lp

    it looks awesome, thanks i will try it.

    if i don’t have a flywheel hosting plan, can i install all in one migration plugin and download the backup in order to restore it in a live domain?

    Reply
    • Tim Strifler

      Yep definitely 🙂

      You can use a migration or backup tool

      Reply
  17. Kate

    How hard is it to migrate sites to a different hosting company once the build is complete?

    Reply
    • Tim Strifler

      It’s very easy using Migrate Guru 🙂

      Reply
  18. Barbara

    Replay – Divilife

    Reply
    • Tim Strifler

      Thanks for watching, Barbara 🙂

      Reply
  19. Rocky

    Watching on your site

    Reply
    • Tim Strifler

      Thanks for the feedback Suzan 🙂

      Reply
  20. Zamir

    Thanks again, Tim, for a great tutorial
    Of all the comments here, the question arises again and again about uploading the site you created using local by flywheel to a server other than flywheel server.
    It would be great if you could show more uploading of the site after further development work to another server through Migrate Guru and link it to a live domain

    Reply
    • Tim Strifler

      Hi Zamir,

      Yes it’s on the list. Stay tuned 🙂

      Reply

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