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This is a simple HTTP server framework written in Objective-C which you can embed in your Foundation and Cocoa applications. It provides support for GET, HEAD, PUT and DELETE requests, although I am not sure POST requests are currently handled correctly. Used in a Cocoa application, you will need to embed the framework in your “Frameworks” folder of the application bundle. To use in a Foundation tool, you will need to create a folder in the parent folder to the folder which contains the application called “Frameworks”.

I am providing this code with a Creative Commons NON-COMMERCIAL license. Please read the “LICENSE”. I would appreciate your requests for bugfixes and features so I can improve this framework for everyone, thanks - General/DavidThorpe.

Download it here: (52K)


To create a web server in your application. create an instance of General/HTTPServer and set the delegate:

General/HTTPServer* theServer = General/[[HTTPServer alloc] init]; Application* theApplication = General/Application alloc] init];

// set server’s delegate to be the application [theServer setDelegate:theApplication];

You can set the port number and the name of the server before starting it:

[theServer setName:@”Name for server”]; [theServer setPort:8080];

If you don’t do this, it will choose an available port and use a default name. You should tell the web server which HTTP methods you’ll accept. These are global options at the moment and there is no concept of and statements like apache yet:

[theServer setOptions:([[HTTPMethodGET General/HTTPMethodHEAD General/HTTPMethodPUT)];

When starting the webserver, an error code may be returned, a success value will also be returned:

General/NSError* theError = nil; [theServer start:&theError]; if(theError) { // handle the error }

This will register the server with bonjour as well, so it will automatically be available to bonjour-enabled applications, like Safari.

The Web Server uses run loops for processing (not threads) so if this is a Foundation application you will need to use a run loop for processing. Here’s an example way to create a run loop:

// start the run loop double resolution = 300.0; BOOL isRunning; do { General/NSDate* theNextDate = General/[NSDate dateWithTimeIntervalSinceNow:resolution]; isRunning = General/[[NSRunLoop currentRunLoop] runMode:General/NSDefaultRunLoopMode beforeDate:theNextDate]; // occasionally re-create the autorelease pool whilst program is running [pool release]; pool = General/[[NSAutoreleasePool alloc] init];
} while(isRunning==YES);


You can stop the server using the “stop” method:

[theServer stop];

This also returns a boolean success value.


You will need to handle requests in your delegate. At the moment, simple “what is the path for this operation” requests are provided. For each request, there are several phases.


There are lots. POST requests don’t work, and no attempt is made to parse GET arguments or POST bodies. It isn’t possible to return dynamically-generated data to the client yet - only files on the filesystem. No check is made to make sure there is enough free space on the filesystem before PUT requests are honoured. Keep-alives are not implemented, but the server doesn’t yet close the connection after the end of a request (I think). If-Modified-Since headers are not honoured, neither are Range: headers. It expects UTF8 character encoding throughout.

In addition, MAKECOL, PROPFIND, COPY and MOVE requests should be implemented later, as should per-directory and location handling. Maybe some sort of authorization and authentication based on IP address or local user authentication. None of these things are currently part of the framework.


There is a simple example in the project file which is a mini-web-server which uses your home directory as the document root. I’ve included a convenience method in the General/HTTPRequest method which will resolve to a path, given a server root:

General/NSString* thePath = [theRequest pathWithRoot:General/NSHomeDirectory() followSymlinks:YES];

The “followSymlinks” variable is meant to be like Apache’s General/FollowSymLinks option. It just makes sure that what you’re accessing is actually under your root path, if set to NO. Be careful - this whole HTTP Server thing is a security risk. When you’re running your server under your home directory, anyone could now access files across the network (unless firewalled). Certainly, don’t enable the DELETE method unless you know what’s going on!


Some code was inspired by Apple’s General/HTTPServer, and the files “General/TCPServer.h” and “General/TCPServer.m” are pretty much cut and paste in some sections. Their example code is here:

There’s also a tutorial on O’Reilly’s “Mac Dev Center” on doing something similar:

Neither of these work well for POST and PUT requests.

Nice effort! Thanks for sharing your work. – General/RobRix