Deploy Hoodie apps with one line

posted by Gregor

Our mission is to empower more people to build applications by taking away the complexity of a backend. If you know the basic open web standards HTML, JavaScript, and CSS, you can build apps that have user authentication and data synchronisation without learning anything but Hoodie Client’s JavaScript APIs.

But after you’ve built your Hoodie app you probably want to put it online. That was pretty hard and required system administration knowledge. Until today.

Deploying to now

now allows you to deploy a Node application with its command line tool. And the best thing: it’s 100% free for Open Source <3 You can deploy an app from your computer or right from a GitHub repository. For example, to deploy our Hoodie Tracker demo app all you have to do is to run this command:

$ now hoodiehq/hoodie-app-tracker --npm -e NODE_ENV=production -e hoodie_inMemory=true

hoodiehq/hoodie-app-tracker is the GitHub repository slug. --npm tells now to deploy using npm, as there is also Dockerfile in the repository. -e NODE_ENV=production sets the NODE_ENV environment variable to production, which makes the deployment faster as no devDependencies will be installed. The -e hoodie_inMemory=true makes the Hoodie app run in-memory mode, meaning that no data is persisted and no files are written. This is important because now is a read-only file system. That means that all user accounts and data will be lost on the next deployment, but it is great for for a quick test or demo of your application.

If you want your data to be persisted, you will need CouchDB, accessible online. Luckily, there is a service that provides hosted CouchDB and they include a free plan:

Store data with Cloudant

Cloudant is a DBaaS (database-as-a-service). It provides most of CouchDB’s APIs and can be used as Hoodie’s database backend. Signing up for a free account only takes a moment. After sign up, you need to slightly adjust the now deployment command above.

$ now hoodiehq/hoodie-app-tracker -e NODE_ENV=production -e hoodie_inMemory=true -e hoodie_dbUrl=https://username:password@username.cloudant.com/

The hoodie_inMemory environment variable makes sure that Hoodie does not try to write any files like the bundled /hoodie/client.js library. The hoodie_dbUrl environment variable sets the address and credentials to your CouchDB. Replace username and password to whatever you signed up with.

Test and set an alias

When you deploy with now you will receive a random subdomain where you can access your application. It looks something like https://hoodie-app-tracker-randomxyz.now.sh/ and was already copied to your clipboard during the deployment. Open the URL in your browser to give it a try. Once everything is good, you can change the subdomain to your preference by running:

$ now alias set hoodie-app-tracker-randomxyz my-tracker-app

That will make your deployed Hoodie Tracker app accessible at https://my-tracker-app.now.sh. For example, here is the app that I deployed myself: https://hoodie-app-tracker.now.sh/

Enjoy!