Home Technology WorldWideWeb, a lightweight web server for developers for macOS and iOS

WorldWideWeb, a lightweight web server for developers for macOS and iOS


WorldWideWeb (free) is the name of a new web server that is aimed at developers in the Apple ecosystem. This app responsible for transmitting the web pages of a static site or the requests of a website is not designed for production use, in particular because it does not cache anything, as web servers normally do. to speed up their operations. Here, the goal is to have a small, simple web server, intended for testing.

There are other apps in this segment, but they are generally much heavier, like Mamp, which installs in addition to the web server (Apache or Nginx) many elements necessary on larger sites or web services, like MySQL for the database or PHP for dynamic sites. Not so with WorldWideWeb, whose name chosen in homage to the first web server in history underlines its simplicity. The app only displays static sites in HTML, lists the contents of folders and responds to JSON and XML requests to test APIs.

In return, WorldWideWeb is light (3.7 MB on macOS) and easy to configure: you choose a starting folder and it takes care of the rest. The app only manages one folder at a time, but displays the most recent ones and allows you to quickly switch between them. Some settings are offered for more advanced needs and the default values ​​will be perfect for testing a static website. Once the web server is launched, the site is accessible by any device on the local network, by default on port 8080 and with the name of the computer as the address. For example, the website generated by my Mac Studio will be accessible on the local network at the address http://mac-studio.local.:8080.

Example of a static site managed by WorldWideWeb macOS, here displayed at the bottom left of the window.

This lightness has another advantage: WorldWideWeb is not limited to Macs, you can also install the app on iPhones and iPads. WorldWideWeb – Mobile is just as free as the macOS version and offers the same functions, with selection of a base folder via the Files app. On Macs, the server stays up all the time without issue. On iOS devices, you have to activate an option to leave it active when the app is in the background, in exchange for a sound broadcast regularly. To save battery power, the server will also automatically lock out after five minutes of inactivity, unless the device is powered on.

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The WorldWideWeb interface on iPad, here configured to serve the contents of the downloads folder.
The list of files contained in this folder generated by WorldWideWeb and also displayed on iPad.

The sites managed with WorldWideWeb are broadcast on the local network via Bonjour, which notably allows them to be listed in the iOS app. If you enable the server on your Mac, you can open the app on an iPhone, display the “Browser” section and you will see the URL generated by the app on the macOS side. One more tap brings up the website on that iPhone, without having to copy/paste or worse, type in the URL by hand. The macOS app does not list the sites accessible locally, but its developer refers to the ZeroConf Browser app which does, or suggests using Handoff.

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WorldWideWeb is written entirely in Swift. Its interface is only available in English and it requires at least macOS 11 and iOS 14.

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