Two New Ways to Test Mobile Devices

Two novel ways to test mobile devices came to my attention today.  This has traditionally been a sticky area for developers as you could not exactly point the device to “localhost” and hack away.

xip.io is a service from 37Signals, who bring us Ruby on Rails-based products like Basecamp.  At a glance, it’s somewhat simple, but pretty cool.  You can use the service to point your mobile device towards a local development server, passing through a public DNS server. Be sure to use your internal LAN address (not necessarily the one the public internet sees).

Adobe Shadow is a different take.  This Adobe Labs project essentially allows you to mirror your desktop on a mobile device via a small application installed on each.  With it, you can synchronously browse your site, viewing both the desktop and mobile experiences.


Been Away, but this Blog Keeps Going

I realized today just how long it has been since I last put this blog to good use…over two years.  Still, more amazingly, I see downloads of past samples (mostly Flex-related) almost daily from my Box.net account.  I’ll try to be a bit more active.


Serving Files from Outside of XAMPP for Simpler Local Development

I recently started working with Aptana (customized build of Eclipse) for PHP and web development and wanted to simplify publishing to the local XAMPP server I use for development.  Copying files back and forth was fun, but there is an easier way…

Using Apache virtual hosts, you can easily setup a second document root to serve content directly from your Aptana/Eclipse workspace (I’m on Windows, but same will work for any OS):

  1. Open C:\xampp\apache\conf\extra\httpd-vhosts.conf in your favorite text editor.
  2. Uncomment (remove the “#”) line 19 – “NameVirtualHost *:80”
  3. Uncomment the block of XML starting at line 27 to read as follows:

    <VirtualHost *:80>
    DocumentRoot "C:\your-aptana-workspace-directory"
    ServerName workspace.localhost
    <Directory "C:\your-aptana-workspace-directory">
    Order allow,deny
    Allow from all
    </Directory>
    ErrorLog "logs/workspace.localhost-error.log"
    CustomLog "logs/workspace.localhost-access.log" combined
    </VirtualHost>
  4. Open C:\Windows\System32\drivers\etc with Notepad, running as Administrator.  (This is for Win7, hosts file exists elsewhere on other systems.)
  5. Enter the following and save:

  6. 127.0.0.1 localhost workspace.localhost

Restart XAMPP and browse to http://workspace.localhost/your-project-name and you should be good to go. Simple.

Update: After reviewing, I noticed that you will also need to add a second virtual host so that localhost continues to respond as previously.


<VirtualHost *:80>
DocumentRoot "C:\xampp\htdocs"
ServerName localhost
<Directory "C:\xampp\htdocs">
Order allow,deny
Allow from all
</Directory>
ErrorLog "logs/error.log"
CustomLog "logs/access.log" combined
</VirtualHost>