Andy Crouch - Code, Technology & Obfuscation ...


Photo: Unsplash - Nicole Y-C

I love a great simple utility and this week I found one that is genuinely useful, ngrok.

ngrok provides a simple way to forward your localhost server content through any NAT or a firewall. This means that you can fire up a demo of your latest website and share a URL with your client or boss and have them view it. I found it while developing a chatbot for Slack. What I loved about the site was that I was signed up and using the app in less than 4 minutes!

(For clarity I have no association or involvement in ngrok.)

First up head over to and sign up for a free account. Once you are in they have a simple UI that guides you through a 4 step process to download the app and get going.

I installed the app via my package manager. Step 1 & 2 provides details for Mac and Windows users and Linux users that are not lucky enough to have a package in their repositories. Once you have downloaded and installed the app you can move to step 3.

In step 3, you need to provide your account token which they provide a shell snippet to copy and paste into a terminal. Step 4 is run the command with some examples of how to serve different content. Serving your localhost webserver (on port 80) is as easy as

$ ngrok http 80

This results in a server running in the terminal which provides the temporary URL’s to reach your localhost.

They even provide a web based interface you can track and monitor requests. This is accessible at http://localhost:4040.

So simple and useful.

What simple but killer apps do you use to make life easy? Let me know via twitter or email.