Deploying Sinatra based apps to Heroku, a beginners guide
A bit of background
So last week, I was triumphant, I conquered an almighty task, I managed to migrate my companies website from a static site to a Sinatra backed site using partial templates. I migrated because I was getting fed up of modifying all of the pages, all two of them, when ever I wanted to update the footers or headers, this is where the partial templates came in; Sinatra came in because it had decent documentation and seemed good…
So, at this time feeling rather pleased with myself I set about working out how to put this online with my current hosting provider, who I have a few domains name with but only through an acquisition they made. I thought I’d give them a shot when setting up my company site, better the devil you know etc and they supported php, ruby and python which was fantastic as I knew I would be using python or ruby at some point to manage the site. After a frustrating hour of reading trying to work how to deploy the ruby app and finding no docs with the hosting provider I logged a support ticket asking for help; to which the reply was along the lines of “I’m afraid our support for Ruby is very limited”. I chased them on Friday to try and get a response on when it would be available, no progress, some excuses because of the platform, so I asked “Do you currently have any servers that do run ruby?” to which the reply was “I’m afraid we have no servers that run Ruby, it shouldn’t be listed on our site, I didn’t know it was there.”
By this point alarm bells were ringing and I thought I best think about alternatives.
Before even signing up to heroku it’s worth getting a few things sorted in your build environment, I had to implement a lot of this to get it working and it makes sense to have it before hand. So for starters, you need to be able to get your application running using rackup, and I came across this guide (I suggest reading it all). In short, you use Bundler to manage what gems you need installed, and you do this by creating a Gemfile with the gems in, and specifying the ruby version (2.0.0 for Heroku)
My Gemfile looks like this:
source 'https://rubygems.org' ruby '2.0.0' # Gems gem 'erubis' gem 'log4r' gem 'sinatra' gem 'sinatra-partial' gem 'sinatra-static-assets' gem 'split'
It simply tells rack / bundler what is needed to make your environment work, and with this you can do something I wish I found sooner, you can execute your project in a container so you can test you have the dependancies correct before you push the site by running a command like this:
bundle exec rackup -p 9292 config.ru &
NB You will need to run
By now you should have a directory with a Gemfile, Gemfile.lock, app.rb, config.ru and various directories for your app. The only other thing you need before deploying to heroku is a Procfile with something like the following in it:
web: bundle exec rackup config.ru -p $PORT
This tells Heroku how to run your app, which combined with the Gemfile, Bundler and the config.ru means you have a nicely contained app.
Now, Why would I look at Heroku when I’ve already spent money on hosting. Well, for one, it will run ruby, two, it’s free for the same level of service I have with my current provider, three, it’s 7 times quicker serving the ruby app in Heroku than the static files with my current host. So step one, Sign up it’s free, no credit card 1 dyno (think of it as a fraction of a cpu, not convinced you get a whole one)
Create a new app, now, a good tip here, if you don’t already have a github account, Heroku is going to give you a git repo for free, granted no fancy graphs, but a nice place to store a website in with out forking out for private repos in github. Now once your site is in the Heroku git repo you just need to push it up and watch it deploy, at this point you amy need to fix a few things but… it’ll be worth it.
I don’t want to say it’s the best, so I’m going to balance up the awesomeness of what follows with this I suggest you read it so you can form your own opinions.
So using Pingdom’s tool for web performance I tested the performance of my site, hosted in the UK, vs Heroku in AWS’s European (Ireland) and here’s the results:
The current site, is behind a CDN provided by Cloudflare and already had a few tweaks made to make it quicker, so this is as good as it gets for the static site: results
Now the new site, unpublished due to the aforementioned hosting challenge, doe snot have a CDN, it is not using any compression yet unless Heroku is doing it, but it’s performance is significantly quicker as seen in the results
Now for those of you who can’t be bothered to click the link, the current site loads in 3.43 seconds which is slow but still faster than most sites, the Heroku based site loads in 459ms so 7 times quicker and it’s not CDN’d yet, or white space optimised, that’s pretty darn quick.