Simon Willison’s Weblog


Product Demonstrations: What’s the best way to view/demo a website offline at an event?

3rd September 2012

My answer to Product Demonstrations: What’s the best way to view/demo a website offline at an event? on Quora

If this is a static website (just HTML, images, CSS and a bit of JavaScript) you might be able to get it running on your laptop using a web server. OS X prior to Mountain Lion had a built in Apache which could be turned on using the “Web Sharing” option in the Sharing preference page, but it looks like they’ve now removed that option—a way of turning it back on again is described here:

I don’t know what the state-of-the-art for this kind of thing on Windows is these days—you can certainly download a Windows build of Apache and use that.

A simpler option is to just have the web pages and all of their contents available on your local disk, and load them in your browser using the “Open File” menu item. Getting this up and running requires you to save the files in a way that correctly re-wires the CSS/Image references to be local paths. Your site might already be built for that to work, but if it’s not you can either use a webpage archiver tool (wget is a basic command-line one, more advanced apps are available for various operating systems) or use your browser’s equivalent of Google Chrome’s “Save Page as ... Webpage, Complete” feature. You’ll need to repeat that for every page that you want available offline though, and you’ll then have to edit the pages to get the links between pages to work—which will be a lot of hassle.

The simplest option might be to take screenshots of every page and combine them in a PDF file or a Keynote/Powerpoint presentation. If you want to get fancy, you can even set up “click” areas in the presentation around the important links which cause a slide with the other page to be displayed.

Another simple option is to open-in-new-tab all of the pages that you want to demo and just switch between them in a browser. The downside of this is that if your computer crashes or someone closes the window or closes a tab you’ll lose the ability to display the page!