When we develop on localhost, we usualy use some kind of simple HTTP server like node ones, MAMP, or whatever.
This is all good and we are all pretty happy about that. We have access to our app using our fancy
http://localhost url. We are happy, but alone.
What if you would like to share your app to a collegue that is not on the same network than yours? What if you need to check your app on an SSL connection?
ngrok to the rescue
Ngrok is a simple “free” service that can help you with that. Here’s some of the features that it provide:
- Expose your localy hosted app/website to the outside world by providing you a
- Allows you to have an SSL connection to your localhost environment.
- Inspect/replay the requests made to your local environment
- Custom subdomain (required a premium account)
- Password protect your exposed service
- And more…
To install, you have different options to choose from
- The official way : Downloading a zip file and unzip it
- Using NPM/Yarn :
npm install ngrok -g. Package information here
It’s a good idea here to create a free account in order to increase the connections rate limit from 20 to 40. The process is quick and realy easy.
To start using ngrok, here’s three quick useful commands:
Expose our localhost:8080 port
ngrok http 8080
This will start up a tunnel to our
localhost:8080 webapp and display this output in the terminal
You can see that ngrok gives us now access to 3 urls:
- http://d99a8a98.ngrok.io : Our webapp on standard http protocol
- https://d99a8a98.ngrok.io : Our webapp on secure https protocol
- http://127.0.0.1:4040 : A nice web interface to inspect our tunnel
Password protect our tunnel
Here’s how you can add a username/password authentication to your tunnel
ngrok http 8080 -auth="hello:world"
This will protect your tunnel with the login hello and password world
Exposing SSH server on port 22
Here’s how you can expose your local machine SSH port to the world. Pretty dangerous but do that if you know what you’re doing.
ngrok tcp 22
Keep in mind that as soon as you kill the ngrok process, your tunnel will be killed as well.
ngrok is way more powerful that what I explained in this blog post. Here’s a non-exhaustive features list that it provide:
- Wildcard domains
- Wildcard domain rules
- Listening on a reserved remote address
- Forwarding to servers on a different machine (non-local services)
- TLS Tunnels without certificate warnings
- Rewriting the Host header
- And more…
You will find the full documentation on the ngrok website
Also published on Medium.