Friday Links 0.0.14 - ngrok

This is based on an email I send my .NET team at work

Happy Friday,

Sorry for missing the last couple weeks. Today I want to show you ngrok.

ngrok

https://ngrok.com/

Have you ever wanted to let someone connect to a development version of your webapp and test something out? It’s a pain to configure IIS Express to allow external configurations, and to use real IIS you’d have to set up a deployment, configure a host binding, probably stop using SQL Server LocalDB and switch to SQL Express, and if the person wasn’t on the local network you’d be out of luck anyway.

Ngrok solves this problem by creating a public domain that tunnels into your local server.

For windows you just have to unzip a package and open a command line prompt inside that extracted folder. Run ngrok.exe to see the help message:

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c:\apps>ngrok
NAME:
ngrok - tunnel local ports to public URLs and inspect traffic
DESCRIPTION:
ngrok exposes local networked services behinds NATs and firewalls to the
public internet over a secure tunnel. Share local websites, build/test
webhook consumers and self-host personal services.
Detailed help for each command is available with 'ngrok help <command>'.
Open http://localhost:4040 for ngrok's web interface to inspect traffic.
EXAMPLES:
ngrok http 80 # secure public URL for port 80 web server
ngrok http -subdomain=baz 8080 # port 8080 available at baz.ngrok.io
ngrok http foo.dev:80 # tunnel to host:port instead of localhost
ngrok tcp 22 # tunnel arbitrary TCP traffic to port 22
ngrok tls -hostname=foo.com 443 # TLS traffic for foo.com to port 443
ngrok start foo bar baz # start tunnels from the configuration file

So if you wanted to debug a site in IIS Express running on port 55204, you would run ngrok http 55204:

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ngrok by @inconshreveable (Ctrl+C to quit)
Session Status online
Version 2.1.14
Region United States (us)
Web Interface http://127.0.0.1:4040
Forwarding http://4ae9df86.ngrok.io -> localhost:55204
Forwarding https://4ae9df86.ngrok.io -> localhost:55204
Connections ttl opn rt1 rt5 p50 p90
0 0 0.00 0.00 0.00 0

Now you just need to point your browser, or your mobile device at http://4ae9df86.ngrok.io to get your site running.

Oops. Now you get 400 Bad Request with a message about a bad host name.

The problem is that the ngrok passes through the public facing host name (4ae9df86.ngrok.io) as the HTTP Host header. IIS Express doesn’t bind to that host, and so you get the 400.

Ngrok solves this with a flag to instruct the proxy to rewrite the host header in-flight: ngrok http --host-header=rewrite 55204. Now everything works.

If you checkout http://localhost:4040 in your browser, you’ll find a history of requests that ngrok proxied. You can explore each request and response and even replay them for debugging.

Press CTRL+C in the terminal to end the proxy.

I’ve found it really useful for debugging localhost sites on mobile devices. The website lists a few other use-cases and I’d encourage you to check it out.