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The Future of VirtualHostX 7.0

Monday, January 04, 2016

Here's what's going on...

It's been a while since VirtualHostX had any significant updates and new features. We've released compatibility fixes for Yosemite and El Capitan to make sure it continues working on your system, but we've lagged behind on new features. For that, I apologize. My wife and I had a second baby this year and - believe it or not - two kids is more work than just one! :-)

Anyway, work has begun on the next major release of VirtualHostX and I just wanted to take this opportunity to fill you in on the big changes and ask for any feedback you have. Customers like you have always had a direct influence on the features I build into the app, so I'd love to give you the chance to shape what I'm working on.

Big Changes...

VirtualHostX versions 3, 4, 5, and 6 are all running on top of the same code base I wrote in 2011. I've become a better developer since then and Apple has marched forward with some tremendous changes that have left the VHX code base in quite an ancient shape. I don't normally recommend rewriting an app lightly, but it's time to modernize everything.

In addition to that, chatting with some folks at Apple has informed me that things are going to continue to become more and more locked down at the OS level with each new OS X release (and for good reason!). The days of VHX modifying Apple's system files are numbered. Also, I'm sick of supporting MAMP.

All of that necessitates a big change in the way VHX operates.

Hobo, our app for managing Vagrant, was the first step in the puzzle.

I wanted to gain more experience with Vagrant and also be certain I could bend it to my needs. Now that I know I can, I'm ready to start on VHX 7.

VHX 7 will be built on top of VirtualBox and Vagrant. The first time you launch the app it'll prompt you to install the two helper apps if you haven't already. Then, VHX will download and run a customized stock version of Ubuntu 16.04. Your website files will remain stored on your Mac and I'll transparently link them into the virtual machine and setup all the virtual hosts within it.

The Benefits

  • • I only have one target platform to worry about. No more Apple vs MAMP vs XAMPP, etc.
  • • Apple's OS X updates can't overwrite your web server settings by accident.
  • • I can deliver an experience that more closely matches the real web server experience you get when you upload your sites into production.
  • • Advanced users can SSH into the virtual machine and completely customize it to suit their needs. If they screw up? VHX can wipe it clean, reinstall the virtual machine, and you're instantly back to a known, good, working configuration.
  • • And because I'll be modifying a real Linux Apache 2 system, this opens up the door to VHX being able to setup your actual production machines sometime in the future.

So, that's where the app is heading. Some users will hate it I'm sure, but I truly believe it's the best way forward. I think it's a more foolproof solution that will be more reliable and offer more flexibility. Also, Apple is kinda of forcing my hand.

Thoughts? I'd love to hear anything you have to say. Hate this idea? Love it? Wanna suggest an entirely different feature? I'm all ears. Just send me an email and I'll get back to you directly.

You can pre-order VirtualHostX 7.0 here.