I often use python’s SimpleHTTPServer as an adhoc means for sharing files. As it turns out it’s also a useful tool for dynamically viewing the contents of static site generators like Jekyll (which is what this site is built upon).

The command below is a quick way for one to spawn a webserver that will serve the contents of the current directory.

python -m SimpleHTTPServer


And since python comes pre-installed on most linux distros and on MacOSX, this is a no-nonsense way for serving files.

No dependencies, no installation steps, it just works.

Given this, there are times however, when I wish it had just one extra piece of functionality: the ability to route different url prefixes to different directories.

The script below patches a single function in SimpleHTTPServer’s request handler and makes this possible without adding in any extra dependencies.

server.py

import os
import posixpath
import urllib
import BaseHTTPServer
from SimpleHTTPServer import SimpleHTTPRequestHandler

ROUTES = (
# [url_prefix ,  directory_path]
['/media', '/var/www/media'],
['',       '/var/www/site']  # empty string for the 'default' match
)

class RequestHandler(SimpleHTTPRequestHandler):

def translate_path(self, path):
"""translate path given routes"""

# set default root to cwd
root = os.getcwd()

# look up routes and set root directory accordingly
for pattern, rootdir in ROUTES:
if path.startswith(pattern):
# found match!
path = path[len(pattern):]  # consume path up to pattern len
root = rootdir
break

# normalize path and prepend root directory
path = path.split('?',1)[0]
path = path.split('#',1)[0]
path = posixpath.normpath(urllib.unquote(path))
words = path.split('/')
words = filter(None, words)

path = root
for word in words:
drive, word = os.path.splitdrive(word)

While not as convenient as the former solution, you can run this script by simply invoking python server.py