Today’s web shows up on a tremendous variety of screens — desktops, televisions, tablets, phones and lately “phablets” (whatever those are). Testing your site on even a fraction of the devices available can seem like a full time job. Tools like Adobe Shadow simplify the process somewhat, refreshing your local site across devices with the click of a button. But Shadow has limitations, for instance, it only works with WebKit browsers.
If you’ve got a wide array of devices to test with you’ll probably want a local network solution — that is, serve your site over your local network and connect all your test devices to that virtual host domain.
Unfortunately setting up a local network and connecting to it can be a pain, which is where the curiously-named Xip.io comes in. Xip.io is a wildcard DNS service that makes it drop-dead simple to set up a network and connect any device to your local test site.
The service is really just a custom DNS server you can easily tap into. So, for example, if your LAN IP address is 10.0.0.1, using Xip.io, mysite.10.0.0.1.xip.io resolves to 10.0.0.1. With the DNS taken care of you can access virtualhosts on your local development server from any devices on your local network, zero configuration required.
Xip.io is a free service from 37signals, whose Sam Stephenson says, “we were tired of jumping through hoops to test our apps on other devices and decided to solve the problem once and for all.” Xip.io might not work for everyone, but if you’ve ever struggled and failed to set up and test sites on a local network, Xip.io might be able to help.