Simplest Node.js server is just:

$ npm install http-server -g

Now you can run a server via the following commands:

$ cd MyApp

$ http-server

If you're using NPM 5.2.0 or newer, you can use http-server without installing it with npx. This isn't recommended for use in production but is a great way to quickly get a server running on localhost.

$ npx http-server

Or, you can try this, which opens your web browser and enables CORS requests:

$ http-server -o --cors

For more options, check out the documentation for http-server on GitHub, or run:

$ http-server --help

Lots of other nice features and brain-dead-simple deployment to NodeJitsu.

Feature Forks

Of course, you can easily top up the features with your own fork. You might find it's already been done in one of the existing 800+ forks of this project:

Light Server: An Auto Refreshing Alternative

A nice alternative to http-server is light-server. It supports file watching and auto-refreshing and many other features.

$ npm install -g light-server 
$ light-server

Add to your directory context menu in Windows Explorer

reg.exe add HKCR\Directory\shell\LightServer\command /ve /t REG_EXPAND_SZ /f /d "\"C:\nodejs\light-server.cmd\" \"-o\" \"-s\" \"%V\""

Simple JSON REST server

If you need to create a simple REST server for a prototype project then json-server might be what you're looking for.

Auto Refreshing Editors

Most web page editors and IDE tools now include a web server that will watch your source files and auto refresh your web page when they change.

I use Live Server with Visual Studio Code.

The open source text editor Brackets also includes a NodeJS static web server. Just open any HTML file in Brackets, press " Live Preview " and it starts a static server and opens your browser at the page. The browser will **auto refresh whenever you edit and save the HTML file. This especially useful when testing adaptive web sites. Open your HTML page on multiple browsers/window sizes/devices. Save your HTML page and instantly see if your adaptive stuff is working as they all auto refresh.

PhoneGap Developers

If you're coding a hybrid mobile app, you may be interested to know that the PhoneGap team took this auto refresh concept on board with their new PhoneGap App. This is a generic mobile app that can load the HTML5 files from a server during development. This is a very slick trick since now you can skip the slow compile/deploy steps in your development cycle for hybrid mobile apps if you're changing JS/CSS/HTML files — which is what you're doing most of the time. They also provide the static NodeJS web server (run phonegap serve) that detects file changes.

PhoneGap + Sencha Touch Developers

I've now extensively adapted the PhoneGap static server & PhoneGap Developer App for Sencha Touch & jQuery Mobile developers. Check it out at Sencha Touch Live. Supports --qr QR Codes and --localtunnel that proxies your static server from your desktop computer to a URL outside your firewall! Tons of uses. Massive speedup for hybrid mobile devs.

Cordova + Ionic Framework Developers

Local server and auto refresh features are baked into the ionic tool. Just run ionic serve from your app folder. Even better ... ionic serve --lab to view auto-refreshing side by side views of both iOS and Android.