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๐Ÿ›  Bulding a node web server in 50 lines of code

lucsan profile image lucsan ใƒป3 min read

SimpServ simple Server is a, small footprint, node js, web Server, in a single page of javascript, which is exciting.

The code is available at:

You can just copy the file to a ๐Ÿฐ desired location, or if you like, do the whole npm git thing and ๐Ÿ‘ฝ clone or ๐Ÿด fork, or ๐Ÿฅ„ spoon from the remote repo .

It's purpose is to provide a ๐Ÿ’จquick and ๐Ÿ’ฉdirty local dev server for js, html and css.

For this ๐Ÿ“ƒrecipe we will require some node packages from the basic nodejs library.

const http = require('http')
const url = require('url')
const fs = require('fs')

Thus you will need nodejs installed on your machine. I will let you have the fun of working out ๐Ÿ˜ฑ how to do that.

There is simple configuration in the file,

const config = {
  port: '8080', // And any port you like.
  root: '', // If you want to server files from a different location to where you started node.
  autoload: true, // Auto loads a window in the default browser.
  index: 'index.html', // You need an index.html in your root.

The ๐Ÿš‚'engine' is started when start() is called via the command line using node or npm.

๐Ÿ“„For example:

node simpserv.js, or (if you have the package.json) npm run serv

The start function is quite simple. A server (http.createServer().listen()) is created and told to listen intently to the browser.

The onRequest() function is gently injected into createServer making the request.on event handler available, which waits eagerly to receive input (ie: a uri) from its loving browser.

function start () {
  console.log('SimpServ running')
  function onRequest(request, response) {
    request.on('error', function(err){ console.log('err ', err) })
    router(request, response)

Every time the request.on event receives a new uri it eagerly passes it to the router function.

The router function is so super-duper it handles everything else. In a larger project this might be included as a module, anyway, here it is ...

const router = (request, response) => {
  let filename = url.parse(request.url).pathname
  filename = filename.replace('/', '')
  if (filename == '') filename = config.index
  let path = (config.root == '' ? filename : `${config.root}/${filename}`)
  let bits = path.split('.')
  let ext = bits[bits.length - 1]
  let ct = 'text/html;'
  if (ext == 'css') ct = 'text/css;'
  if (ext == 'js') ct = 'text/javascript;'

  fs.readFile(path,  (err, page) => {
    if (err) console.log(err)
    response.writeHead(200, { 'Content-Type': `${ct}charset=utf-8` })
    if (page) {
    } else {

In the first few lines we extract essence of path from root uri,

ie: root = / or '', anything after the / is considered to be path.

https://localhost/myproject/ = / or ''

https://localhost/myproject/index.html = index.html

https://localhost/myproject/some/place = some/place

We use index.html as the default file if the path is empty, but you could make this any file you like.

Next we inspect the path for extension types. In this case we only care about css and js, which is not so very caring of us at all, but, other extensions can be catered for (eg: php).
The desired MIME type is inserted into ct

Finally readfile is called, passing in the path, and it serves the referenced file (which should be in, or relative, to the root or node running folder), if it can find it, else, errors out. ๐Ÿค– does not compute.

This bit of code:

if (process.platform == 'win32') {
    .exec(`start http://localhost:${config.port}`)

Opens a page in the default browser pointing at / or /index.htm, it only works on Windows, but you can find the equivalent for other OS's. This is a nice touch, though technically not part of the simple server as such.

As you can see you could easy-peasy begin to modify this code for nefarious purposes (php, data endpoint), or to make it more comprehensive (and complex), or adapt it to a specific purpose (much as ๐Ÿ–Œillustrated by the existing code).

Here is a code snippet to respond to an API endpoint:

if (path.indexOf('/customer') > -1) {
  if (path.indexOf('/name') > -1) filepath = '/customerName.html'
  if (path.indexOf('/address') > -1) filepath = '/customerAddress.html'

and is inserted here:

if (ext == 'js') ct = 'text/javascript;'
  // --- Insert filepath adapters here --- //
fs.readFile(path,  (err, page) => { ...

Now when you visit /customer/name the file customerName.html is returned, but this could just as easily be some json data, or filepath could resolve to html returned from a function.

  filepath = myDataHtml('getSome')

๐Ÿ„โ€Surfs up Dudes๐ŸŒŠ


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