Parallel copy of home page for development?

Is there an easy way to create a parallel copy of the home page for development purposes?

I am trying to help make some changes to an Omeka home page, however since it is a live site, and we are trying to add a javascript widget and custom css, I would like to work on something other than the live active theme index.php page. I tried copying it and addressing it directly (themes/berlin/indexAlt.php) but I just get a 404 (I assume this is because of the site variables which need to be set from the site root index.php)

Any quick way around this besides having a separate dev environment?

Since other people are working on the site at the same time I would like to just have indexAlt.php to work on, still drawing on all the live data, if possible.

Other info on the site about custom front pages seems to point to modifying the index.php file directly.

Thanks for any leads...

There's an unreleased Omeka plugin called ThemePreview that can help you do this.

ThemePreview lets you add something like ?theme=my-theme to the end of your URL to cause any page to be displayed with that theme instead of the current public theme.

If you make a copy of your whole public theme, and give it a different name inside the themes folder, you can edit the new copy, and use the ThemePreview plugin to see the effects of your changes without changing the "normal" site.

You can get the ThemePreview plugin from SVN at