Run ASP.NET Web Server From Any Folder

Rob McLaws has this cool extension that lets you click on a folder and run a webserver from it.

The article, with some comments on alternative ways to do it, or ways to improve it can be found here.

From the page:

I’ve been doing some web development work again lately, and I haven’t wanted to screw with setting up IIS on my virtual machine. The .NET Framework 2.0 comes with a built-in webserver, based on the old Cassini web server. So I wanted to be able to easily set up any directory to have its contents served up on an as-needed basis. The result is an addition to the Windows Explorer right-click menu, as shown below:

This is enabled by a simple modification to the registry. You can take the text below and dump it into a file named “WebServer.reg”, and then run it, to immediately get the item in the context menu.

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESOFTWAREClassesFoldershellVS2005 WebServer]
@=”ASP.NET 2.0 Web Server Here”

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESOFTWAREClassesFoldershellVS2005 WebServercommand]
@=”C:\Windows\Microsoft.NET\Framework\v2.0.50727\Webdev.WebServer.exe /port:8080 /path:”%1″”

There are a couple caveats to this tool, however:

  1. The web server does not randomly assign a port number, so it has to be hard-coded into the registry.
  2. The web server does not automatically assign a virtual directory, so it will always be “http://localhost:port”
  3. A command prompt window will be spawned, and cannot be closed without closing the web server process.

Moving foward, there are a couple of options to fix these issues:

  1. Someone who knows more about variables in the registry can help me fix issues #2 and #3
  2. I can build a wrapper executable that solves all three problems
  3. Microsoft can put in a DCR and fix it before it goes gold in a few days.

#3 is not likely, so I’d love to hear what you think. Hope this trick is useful.



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