prose :: and :: conz

From Commit to Deployment: Codeship

Posted on February 2, 2015

As promised last time I am beginning this series entitled From Commit to Deployment. In these upcoming blog posts, I’m going to walk you through what I am currently using to deploy my blog web application into production. Even if you are not using my particular stack with Lift, AWS, etc., much of what I will outline should be quite useful.

So let’s start by assuming you are developing a web application on your local machine. You’re at a point where you want to put it out on the internet for you and friends to begin using. Secondly, I assume you have been using good source control (ahem…​ git…​).

Introducing Codeship

If you are pushing your commits up to github or Bitbucket, then the first thing I want to introduce you to is a breeze to integrate. Codeship is a fantastic service for running continuous integration tasks triggered by your commits to your source repository. They offer their services 100% free for open source projects like prose::and::conz. Even closed source projects are free up to 100 builds per month. I generally hesitate to endorse paid services, but I feel that codeship is a good example of doing pricing the right way. (i.e. free for open source and small projects then reasonable rates from there)

Out of the box, codeship has several technologies built-in and ready to rock your project from your build automation to your deployment target environment. Even if those were not readily available, codeship is a very handy service to use. In a nutshell, you can regard it as a unix script that gets triggered by each commit. If your tooling is pre-configured for codeship, then great! But even if it isn’t, you can just pip install or wget whatever you need.

I also find codeship to be a pleasure to use. This is clearly software designed to be enjoyed by the end users. The dashboard shows a nice list of my builds and whether they passed or failed. During an active build, I am able to see the output of my scripts streaming into the browser. It even looks like the command console, including colored output.


So setup is very straight-forward. After you setup your SCM, the next thing codeship wants you to configure is your test commands. As I mentioned, there are plenty of built-in technologies for you to utilize. For our purposes, we go with sbt and configure it to run sbt test. (Just don’t tell anyone that prose::and::conz has zero tests…​)

The next thing to set up is deployment. Again, your deployment platform may already be included in the default list. Initially I played around with the three AWS options. However, those approaches in particular are not in line with the other goals I had for deployment, namely the use of immutable infrastructure. Fortunately it didn’t matter that the technologies I wanted to use were not built in to codeship. With the Custom Script option for deployment, I am able to do whatever I want, and that is awesome.

You can peep ahead at my script to see what I am using. First I’m able to simply call sbt to package my war file. I then use wget to grab packer along with a few other tools. I also take advantage of pip to install the AWS CLI. From there I just invoke whatever I need from within my shell script.

A Helpful Bunch

In case it is not immediately obvious how to get your project set up (it wasn’t for me since I wanted to dabble with Packer, Terraform, etc), the folks at codeship are super helpful. When I first got setup, my build failed because I had been using a local snapshot build of Lift which sbt couldn’t access from the codeship server. Within hours, Alex had contacted me asking me if I needed help with my failure. Although I understood my particular issue, the open channel of communication proved very helpful as I dabbled into deploying the application. Any questions were both welcomed and answered quickly. Even if I replied at an odd hour over the weekend, someone at codeship was ready to help.

Also be sure to check out their blog. Several of my ideas for using immutable infrastructure came from their posts. So not only are they helpful to their customers in particular, they are eager to help the community by sharing experiences.

Next Time

That should be good enough to get you started. This first post is a bit short. Thanks to codeship’s ease of use, there isn’t much for me to explain. In the next post I’ll go into much more detail when I share what I’ve learned about Packer.

Leave a comment below, or send me a tweet.

Tagged with: web-development (19), liftweb (9), cloud (4), continuous-integration (2)