Most people in the tech industry are familiar with the accronym LAMP (if not, follow that link). MAMP is a variation on LAMP, but for Mac.
I need to preface this post with the advice that the product I’m about to show is not for “production” type environments. The official word is:
MAMP was created primarily as a PHP development environment for Macintosh computer and should therefore not be used as Live Webserver for the Internet. In this case, we recommend that you use Mac OS X server with the provided Apache or a Linux server.
That out of the way, this is THE BEST web development environment when working on a Mac. To install, drag the MAMP folder to your Applications folder. You don’t have to install Apache, PHP, and MySQL separately, and configure them to work together; it just works.
You don’t have to run any scripts to get it to load, you just launch the MAMP application and Apache and MySQL services start (it does require you to enter your Administrator credentials). The configuration is done through a simple preferences menu, allowing you to modify Apache and MySQL ports, whether to use PHP4 or PHP5, and the Apache document root folder, plus some other minor settings.
Everything is local, so you can use your favorite PHP/HTML/CSS editor (I use Smultron), save your changes, and immediately check the results. I love WordPress, but the native template and plugin editor forms are just basic textarea form elements. With MAMP I’ve got a WordPress installation where I can do my template/plugin work in Smultron, and instantly see the results without having to upload anything to a server out on the interwebs.
A Top 10 Free Mac Apps list was just made over at Lifehacker. I was satisfied with their list, but was a little sad to not see MAMP on it. Check MAMP out, you won’t be disappointed. It’ll probably make your top 10 list, just like it’s on mine.