AppHarbor vs Heroku: What are the differences?
Developers describe AppHarbor as "Instantly deploy and scale .NET applications". AppHarbor is a fully hosted .NET Platform as a Service. AppHarbor can deploy and scale any standard .NET application to the cloud. On the other hand, Heroku is detailed as "Build, deliver, monitor and scale web apps and APIs with a trail blazing developer experience". Heroku is a cloud application platform – a new way of building and deploying web apps. Heroku lets app developers spend 100% of their time on their application code, not managing servers, deployment, ongoing operations, or scaling.
AppHarbor and Heroku can be categorized as "Platform as a Service" tools.
Some of the features offered by AppHarbor are:
- You push .NET and Windows code to AppHarbor using Git, Mercurial, Subversion or Team Foundation Server with the complimentary Git service or through integrations offered in collaboration with Bitbucket, CodePlex and GitHub.
- When AppHarbor receives your code it will be built by a build server. If the code compiles all unit tests contained in the compiled assemblies will be run. The result and progress of the build and unit test status can be monitored on the application dashboard. AppHarbor will call any service hooks that you add to notify you of the build result.
- If everything checks out the application is deployed and configured on AppHarbor application servers. AppHarbor can scale an application vertically and horizontally within seconds for better request throughout, performance and failover. AppHarbor balance load across all instances running that application. Scaling an application gives higher request thoughput, redundancy in case of instance failure and better performance.
On the other hand, Heroku provides the following key features:
- Agile deployment for Ruby, Node.js, Clojure, Java, Python, Go and Scala.
- Run and scale any type of app.
- Total visibility across your entire app.
"Has a totally free account option" is the top reason why over 7 developers like AppHarbor, while over 694 developers mention "Easy deployment" as the leading cause for choosing Heroku.
What is AppHarbor?
What is Heroku?
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When creating the web infrastructure for our start-up, I wanted to host our app on a PaaS to get started quickly.
A very popular one for Rails is Heroku, which I love for free hobby side projects, but never used professionally. On the other hand, I was very familiar with the AWS ecosystem, and since I was going to use some of its services anyways, I thought: why not go all in on it?
It turns out that Amazon offers a PaaS called AWS Elastic Beanstalk, which is basically like an “AWS Heroku”. It even comes with a similar command-line utility, called "eb”. While edge-case Rails problems are not as well documented as with Heroku, it was very satisfying to manage all our cloud services under the same AWS account. There are auto-scaling options for web and worker instances, which is a nice touch. Overall, it was reliable, and I would recommend it to anyone planning on heavily using AWS.
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
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
Heroku vs OpenShift. I've never decided which one is better. Heroku is easier to configure. Openshift provide a better machine for free. Heroku has many addons for free. I've chosen Heroku because of easy initial set-up. I had deployment based on git push. I also tried direct deployment of jar file. Currently Heroku runs my Docker image. Heroku has very good documentation like for beginners. So if you want to start with something, let's follow Heroku. On the other hand OpenShift seems like a PRO tool supported by @RedHat.
I use Gunicorn because does one thing - it’s a WSGI HTTP server - and it does it well. Deploy it quickly and easily, and let the rest of your stack do what the rest of your stack does well, wherever that may be.
uWSGI “aims at developing a full stack for building hosting services” - if that’s a thing you need then ok, but I like the principle of doing one thing well, and I deploy to platforms like Heroku and AWS Elastic Beanstalk where the rest of the “hosting service” is provided and managed for me.
In my last side project, I built a web posting application that has similar features as Facebook and hosted on Heroku. The user can register an account, create posts, upload images and share with others. I took an advantage of graphql-subscriptions to handle realtime notifications in the comments section. Currently, I'm at the last stage of styling and building layouts.
For the #Backend I used graphql-yoga, Prisma, GraphQL with PostgreSQL database. For the #FrontEnd: React, styled-components with Apollo. The app is hosted on Heroku.
AppHarbor is an amazing tool for indie developers or startups that are just getting on their feet. To put it short, AppHarbor is the Heroku of .NET, being developer friendly, cost effective and performant.
Their platform has some nice features including the plugins (integrations with different services such as shared or dedicated RDBMS instances, document repositories, messaging queues, logging and monitoring services, etc.) that are extremely easy to use, and especially integrations with BitBucket and GitHub.
It's such a pleasure to work with the integrations mentioned, that whenever a developer pushes commits to the selected branch, AppHarbor automatically pulls, updates, builds, runs the unit tests and deploys. The cream of the crop is the fact that even the free tier supports this workflow which is practically a continuous delivery approach. And this makes AppHarbor perfect for startups and independent developers.
And, for established companies, I have to add the fact that their customer support is quite good.
I use Heroku, for almost any project of mine. Their free plan is awesome for testing, solo developers or your startup and its almost impossible to not cover you somehow. Adding an add on is a simple command away and I find it easy to use it both on my Windows PC or my Linux laptop. Their documentation, covers almost everything. In particular I have used Heroku for Spring, Django and AngularJS. I even find it easier to run my project on my local dev with foreman start, than ./manage.py runserver (for my django projects). There is no place like Heroku for the developer!
Can't beat the simplicity of deploying and managing apps, the pricing is a bit high, but you are paying for those streamlined tools. However, after several experiences of tracing issues back to Heroku's stack, not having visibility into what they are doing has prompted moving two applications off of it and on to other more transparent cloud solutions. Heroku is amazing for what it is, hosting for early stage products.
I've been using Heroku for 3 years now, they have grown super fast and each time they're improving their services. What I really like the most is how easily you can show to your client the advances on you project, it would take you maximum 15 minutes to configure two environments (Staging/Production). It is simply essential and fantastic!
I liked how easy this was to use and that I could create some proof of concepts without have to pay. The downside for NodeJS is remote debugging. Pretty much have to depend on logging where Azure allows remote debugging with Node Inspector.
Using Heroku takes away all the pains associated with managing compute and backing services. It may require a little extra optimisation and tweaks, but these constraints often make your app better anyway.
Not having to deal with servers is a huge win for us. There are certainly trade-offs (having to wait if the platform is down as opposed to being able to fix the issue), but we’re happy being on Heroku right now. Being able to focus 100% of our technical efforts on application code is immensely helpful.
Two dynos seems to be the sweet spot for our application. We can handle traffic spikes and get pretty consistent performance otherwise.
We have a total of four apps on Heroku: Legacy Leanstack, StackShare Prod, StackShare Staging, StackShare Dev. Protip: if you’re setting up multiple environments based on your prod environment, just run heroku fork app name. Super useful, it copies over your db, add-ons, and settings.
We have a develop branch on GitHub that we push to dev to test out, then if everything is cool we push it to staging and eventually prod. Hotfixes of course go straight to staging and then prod usually.
Heroku runs the web and background worker processes. Auto-deployments are triggered via GitHub commits and wait for the Buildkite test build to pass. Heroku pipelines with beta release phase execution (for automatically running database migrations) allowed for easy manual testing of big new releases. Web and worker logs are sent to Papertrail.
As much as I love AWS EC, I prefer Heroku for apps like this. Heroku has grown up around Rails and Ruby, massive set of add-ons that are usually one-click setup, and I once had to perform an emergency app scale-up a that I completed in seconds from my mobile phone whilst riding the Bangkok subway. Doesn't get much easier than that.