WorldWideWeb: A simple web server tool for Mac, iPad and iPhone

early today Icon Factory They released their latest app, a simple web server tool called WorldWideWeb. The app is very developer focused, serving files from a local directory to an automatically generated URL, making those files available to any device on your local network. While there are certainly more creative use cases for such a tool, its general purpose is to test simple websites built on the web’s greatest primitive: HTML.

WorldWideWeb’s killer feature is simplicity. The main interface of the entire application consists of two small sections: in the first you select a folder, and in the second you turn the web server on or off. When the server is activated, a URL is generated. The application is used good morning To make the address available to any device on the same Wi-Fi network as the host. Simply copy and paste the URL or press the ‘Open in Browser’ button to view the website locally in a web browser.

The primary benefit of a tool like this is to enable developers to test their sites in an environment that matches that of their users. While many coding apps for Mac support inline previews of HTML websites, these previews can differ in behavior from the actual web browsers through which users will view the websites. Moreover, simulating device sizes is never as effective as viewing a website on the devices themselves. WorldWideWeb allows developers to easily open their websites in development on a smartphone or tablet size device instead of using a simulator. They can then make changes to their files and reload their browser tab to see those changes live.

If you are a web developer on a Mac, you are probably familiar with some other services that provide this use case. While I find it hard to imagine an easier out-of-the-box solution to the problem than WorldWideWeb, its simplicity also hampers it in many scenarios. The application’s advanced configuration options are very limited, making it unusable for server-rendered websites such as those written in React or PHP. This gap will unfortunately prevent many modern web developers from having a use case for it.

The story here is a little different for iPad and iPhone. These devices previously had no known way to achieve the functionality offered by WorldWideWeb, certainly not with the ease and elegance of an application by The Iconfactory. Now, along with an excellent code editor Runstone (Who am I? Covered here last month), WorldWideWeb completes a potential pipeline for web development on Apple’s mobile platforms. Of course we’re mainly talking about the iPad here, and this addition continues to get me excited about the state of development tools on iPadOS. If you’ve been developing a website using standard HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, you can now seriously consider switching to the iPad as a full-time development machine. There are still avenues for most developers considering iPadOS, but it’s exciting to see more holes in the process being filled.

For the Mac, in the future I’d like to see The Iconfactory expand WorldWideWeb to serve more use cases. I think they can do it fairly easily by making their app work even less. Currently it requires you to choose a folder and then send requests to the files in it. I’d like to be able to skip selecting a folder and instead just give the app a port that will route localhost traffic to it. This will allow me to rotate my more advanced Docker development environment, but still make use of the one-click Bonjour web server which I can then access from any machine on my network.

For now, the app offers a more limited use case, although it does include some advanced options for developers. Using the gear icon in the application’s web server section, you can choose default file types, change the port the server is running on, tell the application to check other file types if no extension exists, or output request logs to the chosen location. These options are still somewhat limited, but The Iconfactory notes Application progress blog post You can use it to serve some static test data to API endpoints. I feel there are better ways to achieve something like this given WorldWideWeb’s very limited usefulness for advanced development needs, but the mileage may vary if you’re willing to get creative.

WorldWideWeb has positioned itself in the niche, albeit dwindling position of web development. I admire her dedication to the sacred art of unobtrusive HTML. Although the app is exceptionally modern in implementation, it harks back pleasantly to an earlier era for the web; To remind us of a time before ad outbreaks, bloated web pages, and invasive tracking. Although my current development needs do not fit within the narrow scope of the application, I hope that future updates will open a path forward for me to use it.

WorldWideWeb is available for free on the App Store at macOSAnd the iPadOS and iOS.