In this blog post, we'll learn about deployment in the context of a Ruby on Rails application. We'll start by explaining what deployment is, and then we'll explore the most common deployment methods and tools used in the Rails community. Along the way, we'll provide code examples and helpful analogies to make things as clear as possible.
What is Deployment?
When you're learning programming, you might have spent most of your time writing and running code on your computer. However, when you build an application that you want other people to use, you need to put it somewhere they can access it. This process is called deployment.
In simple terms, deployment is the act of taking your application from your local computer and making it available on the internet, so that users can access and use it. To understand this better, think of your application as a restaurant. You've been working hard to create a fantastic menu (your code), and now you're ready to open your doors to the public. To do this, you need to find a location (a server) and set up the restaurant space (configure the server environment). Once everything is in place, customers (users) can come in, sit down, and enjoy your delicious creations (use your application).
Now that we have an idea of what deployment is, let's take a look at some of the most common deployment methods and tools for a Ruby on Rails application.
There are several ways to deploy a Rails application, but we'll focus on the two most common methods: manual deployment and platform as a service (PaaS).
Manual deployment involves setting up a server, configuring the environment, and deploying the application by yourself. This method gives you complete control over the deployment process, but it also requires more time and effort.
To manually deploy a Rails application, you'll need to follow these general steps:
- Choose a hosting provider and set up a server.
- Install the necessary software on the server (Ruby, Rails, database, etc.).
- Configure the server environment (set up environment variables, configure the database, etc.).
- Transfer your application code to the server.
- Set up the web server and application server to serve your application.
- Start the application and ensure it's running correctly.
Let's take a closer look at each step, with some code examples.
1. Choose a hosting provider and set up a server
There are many hosting providers available, such as DigitalOcean, Linode, and Amazon Web Services. Choose one that suits your needs and budget, and create a new server (usually called a "droplet" or "instance").
2. Install the necessary software on the server
Once you have a server, you'll need to install the required software. This usually includes Ruby, Rails, a database (like PostgreSQL or MySQL), and any other dependencies your application needs. For example, to install Ruby and Rails on an Ubuntu server, you could run the following commands:
# Install Ruby
sudo apt-get install ruby-full
# Install Rails
gem install rails
# Install PostgreSQL
sudo apt-get install postgresql postgresql-contrib
3. Configure the server environment
Next, configure the server environment by setting up environment variables, configuring the database, and any other necessary configuration. For example, to set up a PostgreSQL database for your Rails app, you would do the following:
# Create a new PostgreSQL user
sudo -u postgres createuser -s my_app_user
# Create a new PostgreSQL database
sudo -u postgres createdb -O my_app_user my_app_db
# Set environment variables (in /etc/environment or ~/.bashrc)
4. Transfer your application code to the server
To transfer your application code to the server, you can use tools like
git. For example, to use
scp to copy your application files to the server, run the following command on your local machine:
scp -r /path/to/your/app user@your_server_ip:/path/to/destination
5. Set up the web server and application server
6. Start the application and ensure it's running correctly
Finally, start your application server and make sure it's running correctly. You can do this by running the following command in your application directory:
bundle exec puma -C config/puma.rb
Now your application should be up and running on your server!
Platform as a Service (PaaS)
If manually deploying your application sounds like a lot of work, you're in luck! There are platforms that make the deployment process much easier by handling most of the setup and configuration for you. These are called Platform as a Service, or PaaS, providers.
Some popular PaaS providers for Rails applications include Heroku, Engine Yard, and Google Cloud Platform. These platforms handle most of the deployment process for you, so you can focus on writing code and building features.
To deploy a Rails application using a PaaS provider, you'll usually follow these general steps:
- Sign up for an account with the PaaS provider.
- Install the provider's command-line tools (e.g., the
- Create a new application on the platform.
- Configure the application (set environment variables, add add-ons, etc.).
- Deploy the application by pushing your code to the provider's Git repository.
Let's take a look at how to deploy a Rails application using Heroku as an example.
1. Sign up for an account with the PaaS provider
First, sign up for a free Heroku account if you don't have one already.
2. Install the provider's command-line tools
Next, install the Heroku CLI on your local machine. This will allow you to interact with the Heroku platform from your command line.
3. Create a new application on the platform
Once you have the Heroku CLI installed, navigate to your Rails application directory and run the following command to create a new Heroku application:
This command will create a new application on Heroku and add a Git remote called
heroku to your local repository.
4. Configure the application
Next, configure your application by setting environment variables and adding any necessary add-ons. For example, to set up a PostgreSQL database for your Rails app, you can run the following command:
heroku addons:create heroku-postgresql:hobby-dev
This command will create a new PostgreSQL database and automatically set the
DATABASE_URL environment variable on your Heroku application.
5. Deploy the application
Finally, deploy your application to Heroku by pushing your code to the
git push heroku main
Heroku will automatically detect your Rails application, install the required dependencies, and start the application server. Once the deployment is complete, you can visit your application's URL (shown in the output of the
git push command) to see your app live on the internet!
In this blog post, we've learned about deployment in the context of a Ruby on Rails application. We discussed what deployment is, and we explored the most common deployment methods and tools used in the Rails community, including manual deployment and platform as a service (PaaS) providers like Heroku.
As you continue your journey in learning programming, remember that deploying your applications is an important part of the process, allowing users to access and enjoy the fruits of your labor. Whether you choose manual deployment or opt for a PaaS provider, understanding deployment will help you build and share your applications with confidence.