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Create simple, cross-platform GUI applications, or wrap GUIs around command-line applications, using HTML/JS/CSS and your own browser.

slfsrv is an executable that lets you create GUI applications (using simple HTML, CSS, and Javascript) that launch the default web browser as both the logic system and graphical front end. A Javascript API is available to those application to provide enough access to the local computer system, files, and executable, to create basic computer applications or to wrap less-friendly applications within a browser front end.

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Primary features:

  • Run as server to deliver local HTML/CSS/JS in a local browser, as a localhost app.

  • Provide JS API for access to the local computer system, including: data storage, file and directory read/write, unpacking of bundled data (including other executables), and ability to execute other programs.

  • Run the same applications from within Windows, Mac/OSX, and Linux.

  • Bundle applications into either single-file "slfsrv" files, or compile into standalone executables. (Note, a Mac user can create a standalone Windows or Linux executable, and vice versa).

  • Blur the lines between what runs on the web, and what runs on the local machine. (i.e. no longer must I launch a browser to run certain kinds of tasks, and some local start shell to run local tasks, when now they can all launch from the browser).

Why was this made and what situations is it good for?

Putting a GUI front on a little program is too often more work than its worth, especially if that isn't a "massive, commercial, sellable" program. Sure, if you're making a commercial product to sell to millions, you want a fancy user interface; but if it's just an one-off tool for weekly departmental TPS reports, then it's good enough to have the kind of simple GUI a web browser front-end makes easy.

slfsrv is a general-purpose localhost app maker, and as such it could be used to make "sophisticated tools". For example, it could wrap around git to make a nice GUI UI (if there weren't already so many of them). But I expect it more often to be used for situations like these:

  • you need a front end to an existing command-line tool (e.g. collect information, run the command-line tool, the nicely format the output in the browser window)

  • you want to create an application to run on your user's computers, but don't want to spend a lot of time making it

  • for creating your one all-powerful home screen, organizing your daily tasks by combining web activities and local-program activites in the same menu UI (see the menu example under getting started with demos)

  • you want a first-order prototype of a new product idea

  • Creation and wrapping of installation tools. Suppose you need to install a new executable on everyone's system. You can embed that other executable and other scripts within a slfsrv executable, put a bunch of checks on inputs in front of that with slfsrv, and the result would be a quick and slick and better installation tool.

  • Help people through your organization's procedures. Instead of publishing a list of steps people must perform (e.g. "step 1, map to drive with this command and your name and password") you can create a GUI front end around those, write out command in the background, embedding something like Expect if they're complicated, and walk users through the procedures in a much friendlier manor).

Usage, helpscreen version:

From #slfsrv --help

slfsrv - Launch web browser and serve local HTML/CSS/JS/ASSET files to
         it; or compile everything into a standalone executable, for
         multiple platforms, as distributable localhost apps;
         or wrap a GUI around a command-line program.
         For more info, see

USAGE: slfsrv [flags...] [filePath [initialUrlPath]
WHERE: filePath - path to initial file or directory to serve; if file (e.g.
           index.html) then start with that file; if directory then
           look for index.html (or index.htm) in that directory; if not
           specified then look for index.html (or index.htm) in the
           current directory
           path may also be a *.slfsrv bundle created with -bundle
       initialUrlPath - when filePath is simply a directory, then initialUrlPath
           is the path to the first page to load within that directory
  -help - this help text
  -bundle <out.slfsrv> - zip all contents of path into self-contained file
                         to be executed later with slfsrv - the .slfsrv
                         extension is required
  -compile <output-name> - compile slfsrv and all contents of directory
                           tree into a standalone executable
  -compile-from <ss-source> - used with the '-compile' flag, this specifies a
                              slfsrv executable to use (else will use
                              the current slfsrv executable); this flag is
                              useful for making cross-platform distributals (e.g.
                              creating a windows executable from OSX)
  -replace - used with the '-compile' or '-bundle' flags, this specifies
             whether it is OK to replace the <output-name> file
  -port <port#> - specify port to run server on, else will look for a random port
                  that is not in use
  -config-file <json file> - path to json config file name
  -verbose - write out lots of message about what's going on (else silent)
  slfsrv /myapp
  slfsrv ../htmlgame/index.html
  slfsrv -compile /myapp
  slfsrv -compile /myapp -compile-from /tools/ss/win/slfsrv.exe
  slfsrv c:\user\me photo/tools/photoview.html
  slfsrv c:\user\me photo/tools/photoview.html -config-file ./config.json
VERSION: 0.0.2

JavaScript API:

► Javascript API - calls made available to javascript running in the browser

Configuration file

If you supply a configuration file, it should be json with the following optional fields:

keepAliveSeconds: (int64) number of seconds to wait for a keepalive message before quitting. Supply a large number to allow the app to stay alive even if page is pinging the server.

secretKey: (string) client has this key for rudimentary security. If none supplied, the app will generate one.

port: (int) port to run server on. If none supplied it will find an available port. Note that the port can also be supplied on the command line.

Getting the source/executable files

Downloading pre-built executables

If you don't want to compile from original source, then download and unzip the "examples" directory (you'll really want to run the examples), and then the executable appropriate to your OS.

  • - the examples you'll want to start with for any of the following executables

  • - for Macintosh/OSX users

  • - for Windows users

  • - for Ubuntu Linux - NOTE: this download no longer available because it's too hard to satisfy all linux users - just build the darn thing for yourself

Building from source code

slfsrv source is available at It is written in the "Go" language. If you don't already have Go installed, then follow these Go Installation Instructions.

If you're familiar with Go then you already know how you like to install and build new Go applications, and so you'll ignore the following OSX, Linux, or Windows instructions. If you are not familiar with Go, then you may want to build slfsrv in it's own directory.

Building on OSX or Linux

To build in the ~/slfsrv directory:

$ mkdir ~/slfsrv
$ cd ~/slfsrv
$ export GOPATH=~/slfsrv
$ go get
$ go install

If those commands to download and build worked then the slfsrv executable will have been created in the ~/slfsrv/bin directory, and this command:

$ ~/slfsrv/bin/slfsrv --help

will output the help screen seen here.

Building on Windows

To build in the \slfsrv directory:

$ mkdir \slfsrv
$ cd \slfsrv
$ set GOPATH=\slfsrv
$ go get
$ go install

If those commands to download and build worked then the slfsrv executable will have been created in the \slfsrv\bin directory, and this command:

$ \slfsrv\bin\slfsrv --help

will output the help screen seen here.

Getting started with demos

When you have the executable and examples (and assuming the slfsrv executable is in your path), then from the src/ directory run:

$ slfsrv -verbose EXAMPLES.html

This should launch a browser that will allow you to execute some basic examples, along with viewing their source code.

My favorite example is "menu", which I now use (instead of my macintosh DOC) to launch just about everything, using the additional slfsrv-menu.js script (documented here).


► TODO - what's still to be done

random info to be better documented later:

For mac, to associate .slfsrv with an app so you can execute the bundle simply by double-clicking it in the Finder, or by using the "open..." command in Terminal, follow these instructions for How to associate a file name extension with a darwin /linux/unix command-line executable on osx/macintosh


  • 2014/10/07 - version 0.0.1 - first release

  • 2015/01/06 - version 0.0.2 - use gofmt; add config.json file; http.ServeContent for better delivery of large files; use named arguments insteast of parameters lists for most JS functions

Who to contact

► Brent Noorda - all about the author and how to contact

Project Homepage

► - slfsrv project homepage


Create simple, cross-platform GUI applications, or wrap GUIs around command-line applications, using HTML/JS/CSS and your own browser.







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