The simple code server

The simple code server


The only reason this exists is that most simple file servers have no CORS support - see a bit more on CORS at https://enable-cors.org/

When you run the Polyglot Code explorer in a browser, it now has the ability to display individual source code files as you click on them. But to load the files, you need a tiny server to communicate to the JavaScript that is running in your web browser.

The code explorer itself can be run on a local server, like the ones described at this Mozilla page. And in theory you could load the code up in a very similar server, also on your local machine.

But CORS gets in the way - it is a specification designed to protect you from malicious scripts highjacking your browser and loading code from elsewhere on the net. But in this case, it means if you have the Explorer running on http://localhost:8080 and a file server on http://localhost:8675 - the Explorer JavaScript can't actually make a call to the file server on port 8675. (Some browsers historically allowed this, I'm not sure if they still do - but in general browsers should block this!)

How to run it

You can fetch a binary executable from https://github.com/kornysietsma/simple-code-server/releases - if your platform is not supported, you may have to build a binary yourself or run this from cargo - I'll leave that up to you to work out.

The binary will be one of simple-code-server-amd64, simple-code-server.exe or simple-code-server-osx

To run it, simply execute it with the directory of the files you want to serve:

./simple-code-server-osx path_to_files

This will run a web server on http://localhost:8675 with the root directory specified.

For example, if you run it pointing to the simple code server source:

./simple-code-server-osx /User/me/code/simple-code-server

Then you can open http://localhost:8675/Cargo.toml and see the contents of the Cargo.toml file.

NOTE this doesn't serve up directory indexes or anything useful - at the moment it's really aimed at programs like the Polyglot Code Explorer, not for manual use.

You can tweak the port, local interface, and CORS origins accepted - run ./simple-code-server-osx --help for help on parameters, I'm not going to document them all here.

Bypassing CORS - is that safe?

This ONLY bypasses calls from a server running on localhost or or - so it isn't useable at all by malicious scripts, only by scripts you host and run yourself.

You can add other valid origins by passing an origins parameter - you do so at your own risk; once you do this, any script running on a named origin could explore bits of your filesystem.

Configuring the explorer

The explorer now has an "Advanced Settings" panel - once you open this, you will have two new settings:

  • Code server available - tick this to enable the code server
  • Code server prefix - this defaults to "http://localhost:8675/" - this should be the host and port you are running the code server on. The path to a file is appended to this prefix, so if you look at foo/bar.cpp it will try to fetch the code from http://localhost:8675/foo/bar.cpp - you can test the URLs manually in a browser if something goes wrong.

Then if you click on a node to select a file, the source code can be seen on the right in the code inspector.

NOTE - in version 0.4.0 of the explorer, this is unstyled and not particularly pretty. I have plans to improve this, but getting something out was my first priority.

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