What is AppHarbor and what are its top alternatives?
AppHarbor alternatives & related posts
- Easy setup184
related Heroku posts
StackShare Feed is built entirely with React, Glamorous, and Apollo. One of our objectives with the public launch of the Feed was to enable a Server-side rendered (SSR) experience for our organic search traffic. When you visit the StackShare Feed, and you aren't logged in, you are delivered the Trending feed experience. We use an in-house Node.js rendering microservice to generate this HTML. This microservice needs to run and serve requests independent of our Rails web app. Up until recently, we had a mono-repo with our Rails and React code living happily together and all served from the same web process. In order to deploy our SSR app into a Heroku environment, we needed to split out our front-end application into a separate repo in GitHub. The driving factor in this decision was mostly due to limitations imposed by Heroku specifically with how processes can't communicate with each other. A new SSR app was created in Heroku and linked directly to the frontend repo so it stays in-sync with changes.
Related to this, we need a way to "deploy" our frontend changes to various server environments without building & releasing the entire Ruby application. We built a hybrid Amazon S3 Amazon CloudFront solution to host our Webpack bundles. A new CircleCI script builds the bundles and uploads them to S3. The final step in our rollout is to update some keys in Redis so our Rails app knows which bundles to serve. The result of these efforts were significant. Our frontend team now moves independently of our backend team, our build & release process takes only a few minutes, we are now using an edge CDN to serve JS assets, and we have pre-rendered React pages!
#StackDecisionsLaunch #SSR #Microservices #FrontEndRepoSplit
Heroku Docker GitHub Node.js hapi Vue.js AWS Lambda Amazon S3 PostgreSQL Knex.js Checkly is a fairly young company and we're still working hard to find the correct mix of product features, price and audience.
We are focussed on tech B2B, but I always wanted to serve solo developers too. So I decided to make a $7 plan.
Why $7? Simply put, it seems to be a sweet spot for tech companies: Heroku, Docker, Github, Appoptics (Librato) all offer $7 plans. They must have done a ton of research into this, so why not piggy back that and try it out.
Enough biz talk, onto tech. The challenges were:
- Slice of a portion of the functionality so a $7 plan is still profitable. We call this the "plan limits"
- Update API and back end services to handle and enforce plan limits.
- Update the UI to kindly state plan limits are in effect on some part of the UI.
- Update the pricing page to reflect all changes.
- Keep the actual processing backend, storage and API's as untouched as possible.
In essence, we went from strictly volume based pricing to value based pricing. Here come the technical steps & decisions we made to get there.
- We updated our PostgreSQL schema so plans now have an array of "features". These are string constants that represent feature toggles.
- The Vue.js frontend reads these from the vuex store on login.
- Based on these values, the UI has simple
v-ifstatements to either just show the feature or show a friendly "please upgrade" button.
- The hapi API has a hook on each relevant API endpoint that checks whether a user's plan has the feature enabled, or not.
Side note: We offer 10 SMS messages per month on the developer plan. However, we were not actually counting how many people were sending. We had to update our alerting daemon (that runs on Heroku and triggers SMS messages via AWS SNS) to actually bump a counter.
What we build is basically feature-toggling based on plan features. It is very extensible for future additions. Our scheduling and storage backend that actually runs users' monitoring requests (AWS Lambda) and stores the results (S3 and Postgres) has no knowledge of all of this and remained unchanged.
Hope this helps anyone building out their SaaS and is in a similar situation.
related Google App Engine posts
So, the shift from Amazon EC2 to Google App Engine and generally #AWS to #GCP was a long decision and in the end, it's one that we've taken with eyes open and that we reserve the right to modify at any time. And to be clear, we continue to do a lot of stuff with AWS. But, by default, the content of the decision was, for our consumer-facing products, we're going to use GCP first. And if there's some reason why we don't think that's going to work out great, then we'll happily use AWS. In practice, that hasn't really happened. We've been able to meet almost 100% of our needs in GCP.
So it's basically mostly Google Kubernetes Engine , we're mostly running stuff on Kubernetes right now.
#AWStoGCPmigration #cloudmigration #migration
related AWS Elastic Beanstalk posts
Back in 2014, I was given an opportunity to re-architect SmartZip Analytics platform, and flagship product: SmartTargeting. This is a SaaS software helping real estate professionals keeping up with their prospects and leads in a given neighborhood/territory, finding out (thanks to predictive analytics) who's the most likely to list/sell their home, and running cross-channel marketing automation against them: direct mail, online ads, email... The company also does provide Data APIs to Enterprise customers.
I had inherited years and years of technical debt and I knew things had to change radically. The first enabler to this was to make use of the cloud and go with AWS, so we would stop re-inventing the wheel, and build around managed/scalable services.
For the SaaS product, we kept on working with Rails as this was what my team had the most knowledge in. We've however broken up the monolith and decoupled the front-end application from the backend thanks to the use of Rails API so we'd get independently scalable micro-services from now on.
Our various applications could now be deployed using AWS Elastic Beanstalk so we wouldn't waste any more efforts writing time-consuming Capistrano deployment scripts for instance. Combined with Docker so our application would run within its own container, independently from the underlying host configuration.
Storage-wise, we went with Amazon S3 and ditched any pre-existing local or network storage people used to deal with in our legacy systems. On the database side: Amazon RDS / MySQL initially. Ultimately migrated to Amazon RDS for Aurora / MySQL when it got released. Once again, here you need a managed service your cloud provider handles for you.
Future improvements / technology decisions included:
Caching: Amazon ElastiCache / Memcached CDN: Amazon CloudFront Systems Integration: Segment / Zapier Data-warehousing: Amazon Redshift BI: Amazon Quicksight / Superset Search: Elasticsearch / Amazon Elasticsearch Service / Algolia Monitoring: New Relic
As our usage grows, patterns changed, and/or our business needs evolved, my role as Engineering Manager then Director of Engineering was also to ensure my team kept on learning and innovating, while delivering on business value.
One of these innovations was to get ourselves into Serverless : Adopting AWS Lambda was a big step forward. At the time, only available for Node.js (Not Ruby ) but a great way to handle cost efficiency, unpredictable traffic, sudden bursts of traffic... Ultimately you want the whole chain of services involved in a call to be serverless, and that's when we've started leveraging Amazon DynamoDB on these projects so they'd be fully scalable.
We initially started out with Heroku as our PaaS provider due to a desire to use it by our original developer for our Ruby on Rails application/website at the time. We were finding response times slow, it was painfully slow, sometimes taking 10 seconds to start loading the main page. Moving up to the next "compute" level was going to be very expensive.
We moved our site over to AWS Elastic Beanstalk , not only did response times on the site practically become instant, our cloud bill for the application was cut in half.
In database world we are currently using Amazon RDS for PostgreSQL also, we have both MariaDB and Microsoft SQL Server both hosted on Amazon RDS. The plan is to migrate to AWS Aurora Serverless for all 3 of those database systems.
Additional services we use for our public applications: AWS Lambda, Python, Redis, Memcached, AWS Elastic Load Balancing (ELB), Amazon Elasticsearch Service, Amazon ElastiCache
related Apollo posts
When I joined NYT there was already broad dissatisfaction with the LAMP (Linux Apache HTTP Server MySQL PHP) Stack and the front end framework, in particular. So, I wasn't passing judgment on it. I mean, LAMP's fine, you can do good work in LAMP. It's a little dated at this point, but it's not ... I didn't want to rip it out for its own sake, but everyone else was like, "We don't like this, it's really inflexible." And I remember from being outside the company when that was called MIT FIVE when it had launched. And been observing it from the outside, and I was like, you guys took so long to do that and you did it so carefully, and yet you're not happy with your decisions. Why is that? That was more the impetus. If we're going to do this again, how are we going to do it in a way that we're gonna get a better result?
So we're moving quickly away from LAMP, I would say. So, right now, the new front end is React based and using Apollo. And we've been in a long, protracted, gradual rollout of the core experiences.
React is now talking to GraphQL as a primary API. There's a Node.js back end, to the front end, which is mainly for server-side rendering, as well.
Behind there, the main repository for the GraphQL server is a big table repository, that we call Bodega because it's a convenience store. And that reads off of a Kafka pipeline.
At Airbnb we use GraphQL Unions for a "Backend-Driven UI." We have built a system where a very dynamic page is constructed based on a query that will return an array of some set of possible “sections.” These sections are responsive and define the UI completely.
The central file that manages this would be a generated file. Since the list of possible sections is quite large (~50 sections today for Search), it also presumes we have a sane mechanism for lazy-loading components with server rendering, which is a topic for another post. Suffice it to say, we do not need to package all possible sections in a massive bundle to account for everything up front.
Each section component defines its own query fragment, colocated with the section’s component code. This is the general idea of Backend-Driven UI at Airbnb. It’s used in a number of places, including Search, Trip Planner, Host tools, and various landing pages. We use this as our starting point, and then in the demo show how to (1) make and update to an existing section, and (2) add a new section.
While building your product, you want to be able to explore your schema, discovering field names and testing out potential queries on live development data. We achieve that today with GraphQL Playground, the work of our friends at #Prisma. The tools come standard with Apollo Server.
related OpenShift posts
How Uber developed the open source, end-to-end distributed tracing Jaeger , now a CNCF project:
Distributed tracing is quickly becoming a must-have component in the tools that organizations use to monitor their complex, microservice-based architectures. At Uber, our open source distributed tracing system Jaeger saw large-scale internal adoption throughout 2016, integrated into hundreds of microservices and now recording thousands of traces every second.
Here is the story of how we got here, from investigating off-the-shelf solutions like Zipkin, to why we switched from pull to push architecture, and how distributed tracing will continue to evolve:
We use Kubernetes because we decided to migrate to a hosted cluster (not AWS) and still be able to scale our clusters up and down depending on load. By wrapping it with OpenShift we are now able to easily adapt to demand but also able to separate concerns into separate Pods depending on use-cases we have.
related MongoDB Stitch posts
Recently we were looking at a few robust and cost-effective ways of replicating the data that resides in our production MongoDB to a PostgreSQL database for data warehousing and business intelligence.
We set ourselves the following criteria for the optimal tool that would do this job: - The data replication must be near real-time, yet it should NOT impact the production database - The data replication must be horizontally scalable (based on the load), asynchronous & crash-resilient
Based on the above criteria, we selected the following tools to perform the end to end data replication:
We chose MongoDB Stitch for picking up the changes in the source database. It is the serverless platform from MongoDB. One of the services offered by MongoDB Stitch is Stitch Triggers. Using stitch triggers, you can execute a serverless function (in Node.js) in real time in response to changes in the database. When there are a lot of database changes, Stitch automatically "feeds forward" these changes through an asynchronous queue.
We chose Amazon SQS as the pipe / message backbone for communicating the changes from MongoDB to our own replication service. Interestingly enough, MongoDB stitch offers integration with AWS services.
In the Node.js function, we wrote minimal functionality to communicate the database changes (insert / update / delete / replace) to Amazon SQS.
Next we wrote a minimal micro-service in Python to listen to the message events on SQS, pickup the data payload & mirror the DB changes on to the target Data warehouse. We implemented source data to target data translation by modelling target table structures through SQLAlchemy . We deployed this micro-service as AWS Lambda with Zappa. With Zappa, deploying your services as event-driven & horizontally scalable Lambda service is dumb-easy.
In the end, we got to implement a highly scalable near realtime Change Data Replication service that "works" and deployed to production in a matter of few days!