Serving static HTML, images, stylesheets and scripts with Node.js isn’t as out of the box as you might expect. Most developers coming from a PHP or Rails background might be surprise to find that you’ll need to configure a static file server in order to work with the everyday files that a normal web server can serve out of the box. Luckily, it’s really easy to setup a simple node static server with the following approach.

This tutorial assumes that you already have npm and node installed, and that you’re already working within a Node.js project directory, preferably one with a package.json file configured.

1. Install dependencies

Install the node-static module to get started with the following command: npm install --save node-static. If you don’t have a package.json file configured you can install using npm install node-static instead.

2. Create the server

Create a server.js file in your project’s root directory and add the following to it. If you’re extra lazy you can copy/paste the following HTML snippet into ./public/index.html as well to verify the static server is working.


 * Static HTTP Server
 * Create a static file server instance to serve files
 * and folder in the './public' folder

// modules
var static = require( 'node-static' ),
    port = 8080,
    http = require( 'http' );

// config
var file = new static.Server( './public', {
    cache: 3600,
    gzip: true
} );

// serve
http.createServer( function ( request, response ) {
    request.addListener( 'end', function () {
        file.serve( request, response );
    } ).resume();
} ).listen( port );


<!DOCTYPE html>
    <title>Simple, Static Node.js Server</title>
<h1>Simple, Static Node.js Server</h1>

3. Serve our files

Add a folder named public to your project, and add an index.html file in that directory. Start the server by running node server.js from the command-line. Be sure to change to your project directory before running this. Open your browser to localhost:8080, and boom you’re done.

That’s it! You should be all set with a simple node static server setup now. To give credit where it’s due, this setup is leveraging the wonderful node-static module.

About the Author

Kevin Leary is a web developer in Boston, MA specializing in enterprise website design and development, online marketing, and conversion optimization.