How to setup URL domain in local development using NodeJs

Hello everyone, this will be a very simple and straight forward tutorial. As a backend developer, anytime I create a new project to make sure everything is working fine we are instructed to hit a URL like localhost:3000 or whatever port you set your app to listen on.

There is no problem with running your application this way until you have to include OAuth authentication to your application. Google and Facebook don't accept this type of URLs, they prefer a URL that has the basic structure of

domain-name.png the "sub-domain" part is optional though but "https://" is compulsory

So in order to get around this locally and make sure everything is working locally before pushing to production you would need to set up a local domain if/when you visit on your browser will always direct you to your app running locally.

Project Set up

To set up this project, I will show you a very cool basic nodejs structure I learned from Phil Nash. To start with, you will want to set up this basic config.

npm set "Your name"
npm set ""
npm set ""
npm set init.license "MIT"
npm set init.version "1.0.0"

By doing this, anytime you create a new NodeJS project using

npm init -y

Your basic details will be auto-filled in the package.json file. But that's not all if you use a Linux system as I do you will love this next part. Go to your terminal and type in this command

sudo nano ~/.bash_profile

and paste this block of code after the last line

function node-project {
  git init
  npx license $(npm get init.license) -o "$(npm get" > LICENSE
  npx gitignore node
  npx covgen "$(npm get"
  npm init -y
  git add -A
  git commit -m "Initial commit"

copy all these to index.js This block of code will initialize the git in the project's folder, set up your LICENSE, add a .gitignore file with the standard files/folders that should be ignored by git, initialize your node project with the details we set earlier, add and commit the initial files in your project. HOW COOL IS THAT?!


Ctrl + X then press Y then press Enter key

Screenshot from 2020-01-31 14-24-30.png .bash_profile file

You can either close your terminal window and open it again or you can just

source ~/.bash_profile

We are almost done with the project set up, in your terminal navigate to the folder where you want your project created and just


This will set up everything for you while you go grab a cup of water(or coffee). At the end of this section, the project folder should contain only these files

Screenshot from 2020-01-31 14-27-07.png

Install module

To achieve our main objective, we need to install http-proxy and express.

npm i http-proxy express

create 2 new files in your project index.js - Your normal express code will be written here proxy.js - This is the file that will proxy/map our local-domain url to localhost

const express = require('express');
const app = express();

app.get('/', function(req, res) {
  res.json({ live: true });


copy and paste the above code into index.js We just want a basic express server setup nothing fancy. update the scripts section of your package.json file with the below code

"proxy": "node proxy",
"start": "node index"

Now go to your terminal and type

npm run start

and then go to your browser and hit this url http://localhost:3070

Screenshot from 2020-01-31 15-03-53.png if you don't see this in your browser, you might have taken too much coffee

So we have finished setting up a basic express server now comes the real deal.

Set up Proxy server

Before we begin this section please make sure you have open ssl installed on your system. To find out if open ssl is installed on your system, go to your terminal and type

openssl version

you should get something similar to this

OpenSSL 1.1.1d 10 Sep 2019

But if you get an error, just run this in your terminal

sudo apt install openssl

and voila!! you should have openssl installed on your local machine. We will need to create and sign a personal ssl certificate we would use for the https version of your local url. That's the main reason we need openssl. Run this command on your terminal and fill up the details as you wish

openssl req -newkey rsa:4096 \
            -x509 \
            -sha256 \
            -days 3650 \
            -nodes \
            -out localurl.crt \
            -keyout localurl.key

You should have 2 new files in your project's folder a localurl.crt file and localurl.key file.

Now in your code editor, open the proxy.js file and paste this code in it

const httpProxy = require('http-proxy');
const fs = require('fs');

let hostname = '';
let sslKey = 'localurl.key';
let sslCrt = 'localurl.crt';

const proxy = httpProxy
    target: { host: hostname, port: 3070 }

const secureProxy = httpProxy
    target: { host: hostname, port: 3070 },
    ssl: {
      key: fs.readFileSync(sslKey, 'utf8'),
      cert: fs.readFileSync(sslCrt, 'utf8')
    secure: true

// Listen for the `error` event on `proxy`.
proxy.on('error', function(err, req, res) {
  res.writeHead(500, {
    'Content-Type': 'text/plain'

  console.log(' Error ', err);
  res.end('Something went wrong. And we are reporting a custom error message.' + err);

// Listen for the `error` event on `proxy`.
secureProxy.on('error', function(err, req, res) {
  res.writeHead(500, {
    'Content-Type': 'text/plain'

  res.end('Something went wrong. And we are reporting a custom error message.' + err);

All we are doing is creating 2 proxies one for port 80(http://) and port 443(https://). Make sure the port number is the same as the port number your express server is listening on.

At this point, you would want to open another tab on your terminal and run this command to start the proxy

sudo npm run proxy

Take note of the sudo, it needs root privileges

Don't rush to your browser just yet, one more thing you need to do. Open your hosts file.

sudo nano /etc/hosts

make sure to add the below code just before the ipv6 tables, and use the tab key to separate the localhost ip address( and the domain name(

After adding the code above save the file and exit

ctrl + x, then press Y then hit the enter key

Run both

sudo npm run proxy


npm run start

on two different terminal tabs or windows and then go to your browser and hit this url and voila you should see this

Screenshot from 2020-01-31 16-55-59.png sweet!!

I think we are done. If you have an existing project already then just create a proxy.js file project folder and follow the instructions.

Happy coding. Do let me know if you are facing any difficulties.


Darran Thompson's photo

Hey Umar, I appreciate your short tutorial, it has helped me leaps! I have a question regarding servers. My background is Ruby on Rails and I have started with Next.js and React.

I have your example running perfectly, but I am a little stuck. I plan to deploy to an apache server (or nginx), but I am a little lost where to begin, I have Google for the past few days and found sparse information regarding setting up on a production server?

I assume with your example I would use something like "monit" to monitor the process running?

Any pointers would again be appreciated.

Harshita Poojary's photo

I started the apache in the pc , added a domain in /etc/hosts.

Screenshot from 2020-04-27 21-32-54.png Then I ran the proxy file, I got the following error :

events.js:288 throw er; // Unhandled 'error' event ^

Error: listen EADDRINUSE: address already in use :::80


errno: 'EADDRINUSE',

syscall: 'listen',

address: '::',

port: 80

Do i need to stop apache?