I’ve posted before about my love for pow as a local development server, and the introduction of the xip.io service and its integration with pow is a huge, huge boon for one, simple reason: It makes testing sites on several devices (like iPhones and iPads) brain-dead simple without the need to deploy to an external URL or hack together a custom DNS or proxy solution.
The more immediate benefit of this service is that it allows you to view local content via Adobe Shadow, a frictionless way to preview on multiple devices simultaneously.
The only immediate downside to the xip.io service is the rather clunky URL’s. A pow project that is symlinked at
~/.pow/blog that would normally be viewed at the URL http://blog.dev is accessed via xip.io at http://blog.your.local.ip.address.xip.io. For example, from within my local network, the URL for this blog’s development instance is http://blog.192.168.1.147.xip.io. This is not fun to type. Thankfully, there’s a way to fix that as well.
If you’re on OS X (and since we’re talking about pow, there’s a good chance you are), then you should already be using Smile’s TextExpander. If you aren’t, I’m not sure that we can be friends. TextExpander makes it a breeze to handle stuff like this. I’ve just mapped all of my development projects to TextExpander snippets. Now, when I want to look at the pow instance of this site, I just type blog.xip and TextExpander handles the rest.
Obviously if you’re working outside the realm of Ruby or 100% static web apps, then this stack won’t be of use to you at all. But even for simple static sites, I highly recommend pow for all local development and testing.