Running a Simple HTTP Server in Visual Studio Code

What will you learn?

In this tutorial, you will learn how to launch a Python HTTP server using Visual Studio Code. By the end of this guide, you will be able to set up and run a simple HTTP server directly from your IDE, making it convenient for web development and testing local sites.

Introduction to Problem and Solution

When working on web projects or testing static sites locally, serving files from a directory over HTTP is essential. Python provides a built-in solution through its HTTP server module. Integrating this functionality into Visual Studio Code (VSCode) streamlines the workflow significantly.

By setting up VSCode tasks, we can execute shell commands like starting Python’s simple HTTP server directly within the IDE environment. This approach combines the flexibility of Python’s SimpleHTTPServer module (for Python 2.x) or http.server (for Python 3.x) with the convenience of VSCode.

Setting Up Your Environment

    "version": "2.0.0",
    "tasks": [
            "label": "Start HTTP Server",
            "type": "shell",
            "command": "python -m http.server",
            "group": {
                "kind": "test",
                "isDefault": true
            "problemMatcher": [],
            "presentation": {
                "reveal": "always"

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Detailed Explanation

The JSON snippet above defines a task in VSCode that runs python -m http.server. Here�s what each part does:

  • “label”: Provides a name for the task.
  • “type”: Specifies that it’s a shell command.
  • “command”: Executes the command to start the built-in Python module as an HTTP server.
  • “group”: Organizes tasks into groups; here categorized under test tasks.
  • “problemMatcher”: Used by VSCode for parsing output; not needed for our simple server.
  • “presentation”: Controls how task output is presented; set to always reveal immediate feedback.

This configuration enables us to effortlessly initiate an HTTP server serving files from our current project directory within VSCode!

  1. How do I access my running server?

  2. Once started, navigate your browser to http://localhost:8000.

  3. Can I specify which directory should be served?

  4. Yes! Append <directory> after http.server argument e.g., python -m http.server <port> –directory <path-to-directory>.

  5. Is there any way to change the port number?

  6. Absolutely! Add your desired port number after http.server, like so: python -m http.server 8080.

  7. How do I stop my running server?

  8. Press Ctrl+C in its terminal window within VScode.

  9. Can I make changes live without restarting my server?

  10. For static files like HTML or CSS, yes�just refresh your browser page.


By utilizing Visual Studio Code alongside Python’s built-in modules, you can simplify initiating local servers for web development and seamlessly integrate them into larger workflows. This setup enhances productivity without requiring additional software or dependencies beyond what many developers already have installed.

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