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Elijah Miller

27 Aug 2010

Easy Heroku Deploys with Heroku San

We deploy a great deal of our apps to Heroku, but maintaining multiple environments (staging, production, demo) was traditionally very painful.

heroku_san is a simple set of rake tasks to make standard Rails deployment easy. Multiple apps, environments, branches and users are handled with the minimum of effort.

Initial Setup

I won’t bore you with the details of installing the gem and including the rake tasks, but you need to know that heroku_san works by using a YAML file with shorthand versions of your Heroku application names. It looks like this:

  # shorthand: heroku app
  production: awesomeapp
  staging: awesomeapp-staging
  demo: awesomeapp-demo

First Time

If this app has never been deployed to Heroku, you will need to create the remote applications. heroku_san can do this for you, using the data in config/heroku.yml.

rake all heroku:create

Most multi-app deployments change the environment to something different for each app, allowing you to override things like S3 buckets, email policies, etc. heroku_san is happy to handle this too, it assumes you want the RACK_ENV set to the shorthand name of the application.

# set RACK_ENV on each application to the shorthand:
#   awesomeapp-staging => staging
#   awesomeapp-demo    => demo
rake all heroku:rack_env

The old Heroku stack (aspen) requires you to use a Gem manifest (.gems) to list the gems your application depends on. heroku_san can auto-populate this using config.gem requirements for Rails 2 applications.

rake heroku:gems

Everyday Use

rake staging deploy            # deploy staging and migrate
rake production console        # open a console for production
rake demo staging heroku:share # add a new developer to demo and staging
rake all heroku:unshare        # remove a developer from all apps


Deploying always uses the current branch, so be careful! Occasionally you might need to force a deploy, especially if you’re deploying multiple feature branches to the same app.

rake staging deploy            # deploy current branch to staging
rake staging force_deploy      # force deploy current branch to staging

Only One App?

If you’re only using one app, you can skip the server names and just issue the commands directly.

rake deploy                    # deploy the only app you have configured
rake console                   # open a console on your single app


heroku_san works entirely by using the git and heroku binaries. So if you’re ever curious about how a command works or need to debug something you can just watch the screen as you run a command to see exactly what it’s up to.

rake staging deploy
# git push  master:master && \
# heroku rake --app awesomeapp-staging db:migrate && \
# heroku restart --app awesomeapp-staging

Even More!

A full list of commands heroku_san provides is available in the README.

Special Thanks

Thanks to Glenn Roberts, who was kind enough to convert heroku_san from a Rails plugin into a gem, making updates a breeze.