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Upgraders, please read the release notes.


A lean, modular web server for rapid full-stack development.

  • Supports HTTP, HTTPS and HTTP2.
  • Small and 100% personalisable. Load and use only the behaviour required by your project.
  • Attach a custom view to personalise how activity is visualised.
  • Programmatic and command-line interfaces.

Use this tool to:

  • Build any type of front-end web application (static, dynamic, Single Page App, Progessive Web App, React etc).
  • Prototype a back-end service (REST API, microservice, websocket, Server Sent Events service etc).
  • Monitor activity, analyse performance, experiment with caching strategy etc.

Local-web-server is a distribution of lws bundled with a "starter pack" of useful middleware.


This package installs the ws command-line tool (take a look at the usage guide).

Static web site

Running ws without any arguments will host the current directory as a static web site. Navigating to the server will render a directory listing or your index.html, if that file exists.

$ ws
Listening on http://mbp.local:8000,,

Static files tutorial.

This clip demonstrates static hosting plus a couple of log output formats - dev and stats.

Single Page Application

Serving a Single Page Application (an app with client-side routing, e.g. a React or Angular app) is as trivial as specifying the name of your single page:

$ ws --spa index.html

With a static site, requests for typical SPA paths (e.g. /user/1, /login) would return 404 Not Found as a file at that location does not exist. However, by marking index.html as the SPA you create this rule:

If a static file is requested (e.g. /css/style.css) then serve it, if not (e.g. /login) then serve the specified SPA and handle the route client-side.

SPA tutorial.

URL rewriting and proxied requests

Another common use case is to forward certain requests to a remote server.

The following command proxies blog post requests from any path beginning with /posts/ to For example, a request for /posts/1 would be proxied to

$ ws --rewrite '/posts/(.*) ->$1'

Rewrite tutorial.

This clip demonstrates the above plus use of --static.extensions to specify a default file extension and --verbose to monitor activity.


For HTTPS or HTTP2, pass the --https or --http2 flags respectively. See the wiki for further configuration options and a guide on how to get the "green padlock" in your browser.

$ ws --http2
Listening at https://mba4.local:8000,,

Built-in middleware stack

If you do not supply a custom middleware stack via the --stack option the following default stack will be used. It's designed to cover most typical web development scenarios.

Name Description
Basic Auth Password-protect a server using Basic Authentication
Body Parser Parses the request body, making ctx.request.body available to downstream middleware.
Request Monitor Feeds traffic information to the --verbose output.
Log Outputs an access log or stats view to the console.
Cors Support for setting Cross-Origin Resource Sharing (CORS) headers
Json Pretty-prints JSON responses.
Rewrite URL Rewriting. Use to re-route requests to local or remote destinations.
Blacklist Forbid access to sensitive or private resources
Conditional Get Support for HTTP Conditional requests.
Mime Customise the mime-type returned with any static resource.
Compress Compress responses using gzip.
SPA Support for Single Page Applications.
Static Serves static files.
Index Serves directory listings.

Further Documentation

See the wiki for plenty more documentation and tutorials.


$ npm install -g local-web-server

© 2013-20 Lloyd Brookes <>. Documented by jsdoc-to-markdown.