Looking for a smartphone emulator/simulator for Web development

By bjkeefe · 14 replies
Jan 24, 2012
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  1. Hi, all,

    Have you any recommendations for free software [added: for Windows] that will allow me to view local HTML files as they would appear in, say, an iPhone or other common smart phone?

    I am aware that there are sites that offer this service, but everything I've seen only supports entering a URL. I'd like something that will allow me to have a look at work in progress without having to upload files to a server after every modification. Ideally, it would be a program that lives on my machine (so I could do work even when out of range of the nearest hotspot), but a site that supports local file processing, such as the W3C Validator, would be considerably better than nothing.

    If you don't have any good ideas for that, here's a follow-up question: what's the quickest, easiest way to set up some sort of server on my local machine? Doesn't need to be at all fancy. I'd just want to be able to surf to a file on my local machine once and that hit refresh after I edit the HTML source. (By quick and easy, I mean something less than setting up a WAMP stack. I want to do that at some point, but not right now, if possible. Unless someone can convince me it really will take an hour or less.)

    Thanks in advance.
  2. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 11,138   +985

    I have installed the real live Apache web server on my laptop for this purpose
    and when you add PHP / Perl for CGI work, you can test your web pages
    for real and upload them with confidence.

    1) remember to upload text as ASCII and the cgi / images as BINARY

    2) use RELATIVE URLs everywhere and not absolutes eg:
    absolute::- http : // domainName / dirname / file name
    relative::- /dirname / file name

    You do have an issue to be solved for Mobile phones; they need the CSS + WAP
    implementation to control the 'page size'.
  3. bjkeefe

    bjkeefe TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Reply to jobeard

    Thanks for your reply, jobeard. Follow-up question: How long did it take you to get the server set up on your laptop the first time you went through the exercise? As I said, I want to set up a WAMP stack at some point (and I've put it off too long already); it's just that I'm afraid it'll take a day or two of fiddling with the first time I do it, and I don't want to spend that time right now.

    Meanwhile, to you and anyone else reading: I found some answers, at least partial ones, to my own first question about emulator/simulator software, and I'll pass them along here, in case anyone's interested.

    [Added] It looks like I'm not allowed to post links in my replies yet, due to my newness to this forum, so I've changed the links to footnotes that should be easy enough for anyone interested to grab and tweak.

    1. Mobilizer [1] (h/t: ralph.m) [2] is a free, lightweight program that claims to display your page exactly as it will appear in four common phone models. Requires Adobe Air.

    My take: handy for a quick preview, but lacking in controls. No zooming or horizontal scrolling. Slightly sluggish, in that way all Flash-like applications seem to be. On the upside, one of the phones it claims to simulate [I don't know whether simulate or emulate is the proper term here, sorry. I'm a n00b.] is an iPhone 4S.​

    2. Opera Mobile Emulator for desktop [3] (h/t: The Google, etc.) Full-blown desktop program that does pretty much what I asked for, and more.

    My take: it might be on me, but it wasn't obvious when I first tried this thing out, before posting the question above, that you could use it to look at local files. (There is no File→Open .. thing where you might expect.) It turns out, though, that you can drop a file icon on the "location bar" field, and that works without drama.

    So, so far, so good -- in fact, quite impressive in many ways -- although one possible limitation I should mention is that it shows only how the Opera browser will behave on the various phones it claims to simulate. This means, among other things, that you'll have no idea what your site files might look like on an iPhone or anything else that runs a different browser (to include Android phones, I guess (sorry I'm such a n00b). A consequent complication here, from my perspective anyway, is that the Opera mobile browser does too nice a job of handling my crummy, designed-knowing-only-about-desktops site! That is, it doesn't display the artifacts some of my friends have reported seeing on their various devices.​

    It's always easier to point out shortcomings, I acknowledge. So, I should say in conclusion that both of the above look like they'll be of considerable use to me. They satisfy the main objective of getting a quick preview on a few different, common phones, and for more specific/careful testing, I can upload the files to my test server.

    Please feel free to offer more suggestions, though. The amount I have to learn in this area is legion. Thanks.

    [1] springbox.com/mobilizer

    [2] sitepoint.com/forums/showthread.php?813215-Mobile-Web-Page-Detection&p=5024251&viewfull=1#post5024251 - the whole thread is helpful on this issue

    [3] dev.opera.com/articles/view/opera-mobile-emulator
  4. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 11,138   +985

    The Apache is almost a drop-in with little to do if you take all the defaults.

    The Perl & PHP take some reading but then you need one/other only for CGI stuff;
    ie: Apache will serve static pages at light speed without additions.
  5. bjkeefe

    bjkeefe TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Thanks again. Would you suggest a link where I might start?
  6. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 11,138   +985

  7. bjkeefe

    bjkeefe TS Rookie Topic Starter

  8. bjkeefe

    bjkeefe TS Rookie Topic Starter

    More follow-up

    Add to that list: Fennec, which is Firefox's mobile browser. If you visit mozilla.org/en-US/mobile/ and scroll down a bit, you'll see a box labeled "Developer Tools" and a download button therein. I'm happy to say it supports local files.
  9. pacav69

    pacav69 TS Member Posts: 16


    you can have a look at this wamp server
  10. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 11,138   +985

  11. pacav69

    pacav69 TS Member Posts: 16

  12. pacav69

    pacav69 TS Member Posts: 16

  13. pacav69

    pacav69 TS Member Posts: 16

  14. bjkeefe

    bjkeefe TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Thanks, pacav69.
  15. pacav69

    pacav69 TS Member Posts: 16

    no problem, i hope the files to the links work for you

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