3 easy steps to setting up a zero configuration multi-platform web server with NodeJS and local-web-server

In this technical post I am going to illustrate how you can use the simple local-web-server package for NodeJS to start your web server in a few commands.

Let’s get started!

Step 1 – Installation

First, install NodeJS from http://nodejs.org/download/

If you are using Windows, then make sure you download the MSI package because it is so easy to install.

Keep the default options as you’re installing:

image

After installing NodeJS, open an elevated command prompt (i.e: run cmd.exe as Administrator) and type the following command in order to install the local-web-server package:

npm install -g local-web-server

You should see something like this:

image

No errors imply that the package has been successfully installed!

You can then verify where the script has been installed at using the “where” command:

zeroconfig-nodejs-where-ws

As it turns out, the “ws” command is just a Batch file wrapper that runs the “cli.js” file from the node modules folder!
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Step 2 – Creating HTML pages

Okay, now we are ready to serve our HTML pages. Let us go to a folder of our choice and create an HTML page.

In my case, I will create a file called “index.html” in “C:\projects\web\mytestwebpage”:

image

Now type the following:

<html> 
  <head> 
    <title>Hello to my page!</title> 
  </head> 
<body> 
  Welcome to my web server! 
</body> 
</html

Let us open a regular command prompt (non elevated) this time and check the folder’s contents:

image

These are the commands I typed:

  1. “cd <folder>”  this command will let me navigate to the destination folder
  2. “dir /w” to list the directory contents. What is important is that we see the file “index.html” that is 118 bytes
  3. “type index.html” to verify the contents of the file

Step 3 – Serving the HTML pages

We are now ready to serve our single index page. To do that, simply type “ws” from the same command line window from the previous step:

zeroconfig-nodejs-run-ws

After you run “ws”, the web server is ready to serve pages. As per the suggested output, you can access your web server using 3 different addresses but all at the same port 8000:

  • The http://127.0.0.1:8000 address is the local host address. It is only accessible from the same machine
  • The other two addresses can be accessed by any other resource on the network that can resolve the name “mypc” or can reach “192.168.1.10”

In the following screenshot, I used the local host address to see my index page:

zeroconfig-nodejs-served

Press Ctrl-C to terminate the web server or just close the command prompt window.

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