Often when formulating an idea in front-end code, I need to include a colleague or client in a decision, but I’m not yet ready to make a commit or cut a new feature branch. When fleshing out these ideas, I like to use some free static hosts to create a shareable link from my local code.
Pushing from local
Pushing code straight from my terminal (or IDE) means no need to make a git commit, no build pipelines and no set up time. These tools also allow for true one-off subdomains, that you can brand for a specific project, straight from the command line tool.
The first tool are like to use is called Surge. It seems to have a large developer mind share in deploying front-end code due to the fact it is quick, reliable and works straight from your command line (following a simple npm install). The documentation is solid and regularly updated, and the Slack channel appears active.
A bonus feature is that if you enjoy using Surge, you can also upgrade your account to the paid version opening more features and giving greater control of the deployment, all without leaving the command line.
When looking at alternatives to Netlify and Surge, I came across a new service called HTTP2.live. It seems to be a labour of love created by one developer to allow users to deploy a site with a modern tech stack.
The product seems to be in active development, with the lead coder taking suggestions from the community and even emailing me after I signed up. Whilst I so far have only used this service once, it again was seamless pushing straight from the command line - and simple to tear down the project afterwards.
Tunneling from localhost
An alternative to publishing your code to a static site is to simply open an connection to your local environment. Using a tool like ngrok you can expose a port on your localhost, and allow others to access you local environment via a web facing domain.
ngrok is perfect for updating you website right in front your client’s eyes, as you don’t need to push. The client can simply refresh their browser each time you make a change and immediately see the results.
A nice bonus of ngrok is the ability to add basic password protection as part of the free tier plan, to stop any snooping eyes from seeing your site.