Site Building

Development Environments for Drupal 7, 8, 9, and 10

A development environment is any copy of your site that operates separately from the live site. Development environments allow you to make changes, try new modules, write new code, and test new ideas, on a copy of your site instead of the real thing, ensuring those changes happen in a sandbox where you’re not affecting anyone trying to use the live version of your application.

This is typically done by installing the server software required to run Drupal on your own computer and then creating a clone of your existing database and files. Or you might have a separate instance of the site setup on the existing infrastructure.

Here’s a basic recipe for setting up a new development environment:

  1. Install web server, database server, PHP, and Git
  2. Either install Drupal if starting from scratch, or clone the code, database, and user-generated files from your live site
  3. Clear the cache

Example tasks

  • Install Drupal on, or copy an existing site to, your computer to do development
  • Test modules and code without affecting the production site
  • Test server configuration changes on your localhost before deploying them to production


There are dozens of ways to do this, and none is the only right way. The bare minimum requirement is that you have PHP, a web server, and a database running on the computer where you would like to install Drupal. Beyond that, it’s mostly personal preference.

Drupalize.Me resources

If you want our recommendation, on the Drupalize.Me team, we all use DDEV as a local development environment. Learn how to install Drupal locally with DDEV in this tutorial:

More information

Installing Drupal using the instructions in this tutorial will give you a working Drupal site that can be used for learning, or real-world project development.

Before you can work on a Drupal site locally (on your computer), you'll need to set up a local development environment. This includes all the system requirements like PHP and a web server, that Drupal needs in order to run. Our favorite way to accomplish this is using DDEV.

In this tutorial we'll learn:

  • How to install and configure DDEV for use with a Drupal project.
  • How to use DDEV's integrated Composer to download Drupal and Drush.
  • How to install Drupal inside DDEV so you can access the site and start doing development.

By the end of this tutorial, you should be able to set up a local development environment for learning Drupal or working on a new Drupal project.

What is a development site? These tutorials from the Drupal User Guide will help you understand what you need in a local development environment, in order to run Drupal locally on your machine.

More information

Overview of development sites with an example deployment workflow for site building.

More information

How to make a copy of a live site for development purposes.

Learn about the minimum requirements for running Drupal. If you need Drupal 7 specifics, see the Drupal 7 system requirements

More information

Overview of server requirements for installing and running the core software.

Learn to use Docker for Drupal Development:


Drupal 7, 8, 9, and 10
More information

For the Drupal developer, Docker is a way to provide a local development environment to run web server software.

Note: DDEV uses Docker, so unless you want to get into the details of how to customize Docker containers, we recommend using DDEV as a local development environment for Drupal.

Set up your environment for theming in Drupal:

More information

Making Drupal fast by default implies having caching layers and CSS and JavaScript aggregation utilities enabled out-of-the-box. As a theme developer this can be annoying, because you must clear these various caches in order to preview any changes. In addition, inspecting variables with debugging tools often produces PHP errors. We'll make some recommendations for PHP settings on your local environment that can prevent these errors from happening so often.

By the end of this tutorial, you should be able to:

  • Set up your local Drupal site for theme development
  • Prepare your local development environment for working on and debugging themes


Not sure where to start? Our guides provide useful learning tracks for all skill levels.

Navigate guides

External resources

  • Local Development Guide (
    • The purpose of this guide is to assist you with creating and installing a new Drupal application on your local machine for the purpose of development. Installing Drupal using the following instructions will give you a starting point for a website that can be deployed to a production environment. The intended audience for this guide is a developer.
  • Local Dev Environments for Dummies
    • This MidCamp 2018 presentation by Jeff Geerling covers all the basics you need to know to be able to evaluate and determine what’s the best development setup for you, your team or your dev shop.

Choose any of these excellent community-built tools (all Docker-based) to get up-and-running with a local development environment. These free products are all cross-platform.

  • DDEV
    • DDEV is an open source tool that makes it simple to get local PHP development environments up and running in minutes. We use it internally at Drupalize.Me.
    • DDEV Docs (
    • See this repo for many example command snippets from the community: drud/ddev-contrib (
  • Lando
    • Uses Docker containers with sane defaults for Drupal and other open source web development. Includes configuration defaults for a number of popular open source frameworks, tech stacks, and hosting platform Pantheon.
  • Docksal
    • An all-purpose web-development environment based on Docker and Docker Compose.
  • Drupal VM (
    • Uses Ansible, and either a Vagrant VM or Docker containers to set up a Drupal-centered environment. Includes many convenient utilities for local development. A little harder to install but gives more flexibility and bundled features.
  •, and Try Drupal (
    • Sometimes you just need to create a quick Drupal site to try out a new module or a proof of concept. is the fastest way we know of to do that. If you want something that doesn’t expire after 24 hours, try one of the hosting providers with free options from

There are many others! Check out this panel at BADCamp 2019 with representatives from these and other tools talking local development tools for Drupal developers.