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Prototype and test web apps with the Firebase Hosting Emulator

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Before you start prototyping and testing your web app with the Firebase Hosting emulator, make sure that you understand the overall Firebase Local Emulator Suite workflow, and that you install and configure the Local Emulator Suite and review its CLI commands.

You should also be familiar with the features and implementation workflow for Firebase Hosting. Start with the introduction to Firebase Hosting.

What can I do with the Firebase Hosting emulator?

The Firebase Hosting emulator provides high-fidelity local emulation of Hosting services, providing much of the functionality found in production Hosting. The Hosting emulator lets you:

  • Prototype your static sites and web apps without incurring storage or access charges
  • Prototype, test and debug HTTPS functions before deploying to your Hosting site
  • Test sites and web apps in containerized, continuous integration workflows.

Choose a Firebase project

The Firebase Local Emulator Suite emulates products for a single Firebase project.

To select the project to use, before you start the emulators, in the CLI run firebase use in your working directory. Or, you can pass the --project flag to each emulator command.

Local Emulator Suite supports emulation of real Firebase projects and demo projects.

Project type Features Use with emulators
Real

A real Firebase project is one you created and configured (most likely via the Firebase console).

Real projects have live resources, like database instances, storage buckets, functions, or any other resource you set up for that Firebase project.

When working with real Firebase projects, you can run emulators for any or all of the supported products.

For any products you are not emulating, your apps and code will interact with the live resource (database instance, storage bucket, function, etc.).

Demo

A demo Firebase project has no real Firebase configuration and no live resources. These projects are usually accessed via codelabs or other tutorials.

Project IDs for demo projects have the demo- prefix.

When working with demo Firebase projects, your apps and code interact with emulators only. If your app attempts to interact with a resource for which an emulator isn't running, that code will fail.

We recommend you use demo projects wherever possible. Benefits include:

  • Easier setup, since you can run the emulators without ever creating a Firebase project
  • Stronger safety, since if your code accidentally invokes non-emulated (production) resources, there is no chance of data change, usage and billing
  • Better offline support, since there is no need to access the internet to download your SDK configuration.

Core prototyping workflow

If you're making quick iterations or you want your app to interact with emulated backend project resources, you can test your Hosting content and config locally. When testing locally, Firebase serves your web app at a locally hosted URL.

  1. (Optional) By default, your locally hosted app will interact with real, not emulated, project resources (functions, database, rules, etc.). You can instead optionally connect your app to use any emulated project resources that you've configured. Learn more: Realtime Database | Cloud Firestore | Cloud Functions

  2. From the root of your local project directory, run the following command:

    firebase emulators:start
  3. Open your web app at the local URL returned by the CLI (usually http://localhost:5000).

  4. To update the local URL with changes, refresh your browser.

Test from other local devices

By default, the emulators only respond to requests from localhost. This means that you'll be able to access your hosted content from your computer's web browser but not from other devices on your network. If you'd like to test from other local devices, configure your firebase.json like so:

"emulators": {
    // ...

    "hosting": {
      "port": 5000
      "host": "0.0.0.0"
    }
  }

Generate auth tokens for continuous integration workflows

If your continuous integration workflows rely on Firebase Hosting, then you will need to log in using a token in order to run firebase emulators:exec. The other emulators do not require login.

To generate a token, run firebase login:ci on your local environment; this should not be performed from a CI system. Follow instructions to authenticate. You should only need to perform this step once per project, since the token will be valid across builds. The token should be treated like a password; make sure it is kept secret.

If your CI environment allows you to specify environment variables that can be used in the build scripts, simply create an environment variable called FIREBASE_TOKEN, with the value being the access token string. The Firebase CLI will automatically pick up the FIREBASE_TOKEN environment variable and the emulators will start properly.

As a last resort, you can simply include the token in your build script, but make sure that untrusted parties do not have access. For this hard-coded approach, you can add --token "YOUR_TOKEN_STRING_HERE" to the firebase emulators:exec command.

What next?