Are you new to web development and wondering what localhost is? Or perhaps you have a general understanding of what localhost is but you are not quite sure that the port number that is used in conjunction with localhost is? Well then you are in the right place! In this article we provide a beginner friendly description of what localhost and ports are and why they are useful when developing web applications.
What is localhost?
What is localhost? Before talking about what localhost is, we will first discuss when localhost should be used. In short, localhost should be used when you want to run a web application on your local computer and interact with that web application in your browser.
Localhost is simply an alias that refers back to your local computer. This alias can be passed to your web browser to inform the browser that you want to access an application that is running on your local computer. In order to interact with a web application that is running on your local computer, all you have to do is type http://localhost followed by the port number that your application is running on into your browser.
What is a port?
So what is a port? A port is just a specific communication channel that a web application is running on. You can think of a port as similar to a channel on the radio or TV. There are many different ports that can all have different content running through them at the same time.
This multi-channel architecture is handy because it allows you to have different web applications running on your computer at the same time without any confusion. By including the port number in your call to localhost, you can inform your web browser which web application you want to interact with. This is useful in situations where you need to have different web applications that interact with each other running at the same time.