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I Miss Heroku's DevEx (christine.website)
310 points by craigkerstiens on May 12, 2022 | hide | past | favorite | 196 comments

This is a little off topic, but I was actually the first user of Heroku [1]. It emerged from the terrible experience of trying to run Ruby apps at a consulting company I worked at called Bitscribe back in '06-'07. The three founders of Bitscribe (Adam Wiggins, Orion Henry, James Lindenbaum) spun off to build a web IDE with automatic app building and hosting, which eventually became Heroku. The old idea was that you could use Git to download your code from the web IDE, and eventually got developed into the experience we all love(d?).

Adam Wiggins, one of the three founders, was one of my favorite software engineering mentors back when we called it programming - as an example, he wrote an early rails plugin called "axeman" for the consultancy that would list controllers and actions by least-often-used, so that we could remove functionality that wasn't worth clients paying for. He also got me introduced to Vim, and another coworker there (Hi Simon Michael) demonstrated for me the orchestral nature of a true Emacs master operating at peak capacity, so I blame them to some degree for being stuck in the DMZ at the middle of the IDE war.

[1] The reason I know I was the first user was that in October 2008, Adam sent me an invite to try out Heroku and there was a classic rails error - they forgot to skip the before_filter for authentication on the "accept invite" controller and action. Bug quickly fixed, but definitely a funny anecdote. Even on day one it was obvious they were going places - I would have blind invested money into whatever venture those three were working on regardless of what it was.

Heya Justin :-) Thanks for the walk down memory lane (I had totally forgotten about axeman!) and the kind words.

A bit of nuance on the "terrible experience of trying to run Ruby apps" bit. I'd argue that the setup process for Ruby/Rails in 2006 was not all that much worse than other web stacks at the time e.g. Java/WAR or Perl/cgi-bin. (Although PHP+Apache+mod_php deserves a nod for being notably smoother than most others.)

What inspired us to start Heroku was that once we switched from building apps in other languages and frameworks, development time was reduced by a factor of 2 or 3; but deployment time stayed the same. That is, before Rails we'd spent maybe three months developing the first version of the client's project, and then 4-6 weeks on deployment. (This was usually buying and installing a rackmount server into their office or colocation facility, but sometimes also waiting for a managed hosting service to do the same for us. For small projects we could use Slicehost but those were infrequent because our clients usually needed a powerful database server.)

Once we were developing with Rails, we found v1 could be done in a month or even less. It felt incongruent to spend a month on developing the app (the differentiated part of our work) and then longer than that getting it deployed (the undifferentiated part).

There's many other inspirations that were part of the story (end-user programming / citizen developer, which led to the web IDE you talked about) but this was the "deployment pain" part of it. It sticks in my mind because we frequently had to answer the question from prospective investors: "Is Rails really that hard to install?" And we'd say, no, the game has changed--development is so much faster and joyful now, that by comparison our existing ways of deploying feel slow, error-prone, and boring.

Hey, author of the article here. Thank you for making Heroku a thing. It is single-handedly one of the most significant catalysts for making my career happen. Without Heroku's free tier, I would have never been able to get started in tech.

Please continue to create amazing things.

Absolutely, I didn't mean to apply "terrible" comparatively to other languages at the time, just broadly in terms of "it was terrible compared to the eventual heroku setup" really. These days a lot of systems make it much easier than it was then, but it's not a specific Ruby problem that has been fixed. Hope you're doing well these days, it's been a long time but I still think fondly of the whole Bitscribe gang. In retrospect it was a really special place and time. Lars and his Saab, trying to explain to Morten why I liked Indian food so much (facepalm moment there), meeting Ricardo at 3am for 24h korean barbecue (and getting mixed up on which restaurant was which, since the signs were in hangul), hacking on the netflix prize, griping about Harpoon...

I really love that idea of pruning unused and redundant usage of endpoints. You could take that functionality and apply to to whole application features in the UI too for example.

It’s inspired me a lot. I assume this axeman had to integrate with either logs or analytics to get the usage counts?

I’m not sure such an idea would even work these days at large organisations following the Big Agile TM nonsense, imagine trying to explain that to a dozen or so product owners and scrum masters…

This shows you how wild and wooly the "early" days of rails was - I forget whether it ran its own instance of sqlite, or was just a completely in-memory hash of hit counts ala counts[controller][action] += 1 that you had to retrieve. Either way it was extremely primitive, predating really what we think of as monitoring and analytics data being its own process and pipeline. But that was also part of the genius of it - as you say, you'd be hard pressed to hack something together that solved a real problem for customers in an afternoon that way these days.

I do think it would be a great thing to incorporate into a monitoring and observability tool - my day job at the moment is related and I hope to work in that area of research a bit. Necessary Disclaimer time: my opinions are my own personal opinions, not professional opinions or those of my employer or anyone else.

I think Heroku's aggressive pricing is the main driver behind making them obsolete. I honestly cannot believe Salesforce is so short-sighted with Heroku. Their approach is "Milk it as much as we can until everyone just abandons it for cheaper solutions/clones".

Had they become more competitive in terms of pricing, a large, large chunk of companies would've used them rather than moving to solutions like Kube, etc, or a bunch of Heroku clones which are now taking off as it's being considered a "Sinking Ship".

Just see this:


The reasons they are suggesting [that companies leave Heroku for] (besides the costs) are a bunch of non-reasons and small nuisances. The main reason is the cost, and the cost issue will become bigger and bigger of an issue as competing solutions get cheaper and cheaper, until Heroku is completely sunk and abandoned.

We are still using Heroku and I really hope they would fix the pricing before we bite the bullet and just spend a couple of weeks moving to a cheaper alternative. There's no vendor lock in on 12 Factor Apps you see.

Former employee, and you're wrong: pricing had nothing to do with it.

In 2017 we went under a feature freeze and no new features were allowed to be worked on. Anyone can look at the Heroku Changelog to verify this yourself (of course features that were in progress still rolled out over some of 2018). We had tons of attrition (without backfill) and even a layoff afterwards. Heroku is probably 1/3 of what it was at its peak around 2014.

SFDC gave up on us because we wanted to build a developer platform and they wanted us to build an enterprise platform. We sucked at enterprise features so they gave us the axe.

I appreciate you letting us know what happened exactly. This just confirms the basis of my previous comment that this is exactly SalesForce's strategy regarding Heroku: Milk it until it dies.

So the biggest Heroku clone I can think of is Google's App Engine, and it's complicated for no reason. The most comical example is storing/accessing secrets. What should be something like `heroku config set MYSECRET=foo` is instead an entire tutorial on setting up a separate key management system and configuring GAE to use it, which cutting every corner still took me at least 2 hours.

It's like this all the way. Postgres is one click on Heroku, a miniature ordeal on GAE. Yeah I can handle it, but why. Maybe I don't have the patience and there's some light at the end of the tunnel. I thought maybe that light was gRPC, but turns out App Engine ironically can't run gRPC services.

Secrets should not be on the command line, they get logged to history. Instead should be prompted for like a password.

Only tangentially related, but if you prefix the command with a space, it doesn't get recorded to history.

    $ cd
    $ echo "one"
    $  echo "two"
    $ echo "three"
    $ history | tail -3
    10089  cd
    10090  echo "one"
    10091  echo "three"

When you remember to do it, that is.

That is the default on many Linuxes' bashes but it's not universal and you can turn it on or off using HISTCONTROL: https://www.gnu.org/software/bash/manual/html_node/Bash-Vari...

Meanwhile, `ps` etc will still show the secret. Just do it the right way.

My former employer, a large lumbering fortune 500 trying to play in the agile pool, made extensive use of those specific features...

I was never sure about this. Sure, they're more expensive than competitors but for a lot of uses they worked out cheaper than the alternatives in almost every circumstance.

We were able to support _hundreds_ of applications, scale up at a moment's notice (applications were _very_ spiky traffic) and we didn't need a single member of infrastructure staff. We had engineers with _some_ backend-heavy knowledge, but nobody who could really get in to the guts of an infrastructure problem.

We charged Heroku out at cost to customers on top of our daily rate and it's barely a rounding error except for the largest of projects.

Don't get me wrong, the overall issue is that Heroku just isn't actively maintained anymore and that's going to put off new customers (as it should), but for those heavily invested in the platform right now, cost is not a factor that will be pushing them away.

While companies move off Heroku because of the pricing, there's still a huge addressable market there given that the Heroku ecosystem (including all its addons) is much more extensive than other similar services. The OP discusses this (that's what the "magic" is all about). Plenty of folks would be willing to pay the Heroku premium if new features were being actively developed, the addon ecosystem was continuing to expand (and addons were kept up-to-date), and the general reliability of the platform wasn't being questioned.

But are there any good alternatives to heroku that have a similar approach (i.e. not spinning your own VM) ?

You can get really close by using the one click Dokku deploy on DigitalOcean. Technically it is your own VM, but in practice you just set your git remote to that IP and use it like you would a Heroku instance. It even supports the Heroku build packs!

But then I have to run a server.

Very minimally, sure. You also save a whole pile of money.

The point of Heroku is that I don't have to run a server.

The blog post we're all commenting describes the point of heroku as to lowering the barrier to entry for deployment. It's about the number of things that you don't have to think about. As a sibling comment says in Google App Engine you also don't have to run a server, but it's much more complicated to use (I ran a startup on it for a while).

> The blog post we're all commenting

Was written by the person you are responding to.

That experience is pretty much exactly what Cloud Foundry offers. There are companies offering CF as a service, so very like Heroku, although they're a bit hard to find, because they all rebrand it and roll it into some larger awful cloud offering of their own.

Possibly the most clearly and simply CF-based is from Swisscom:


Even there, i see no links to getting started docs, or pricing.

Fly.io, Porter, Render, Google Cloud Run, DO Droplets and probably a bunch I'm forgetting.

The magic of heroku was everything just worked from a git push, no need to fuck around with Docker and fly.toml files.

Launching laravel app on heroku is magic, git push and done. On render and fly.io? Man I hope you don't suck at Docker cause it took me forever.

Exactly. Every HN thread that mentions Heroku always has people responding with the same half dozen Heroku competitors. In reality, none of them are comparable. If I have to touch Docker at all then it’s not comparable to Heroku. If I have to configure a service at all. It’s not comparable. If I have to do anything other than click a button to add a database, make that database HA, and make backups automated, then it’s not comparable. If I have to manually manage things like environment variables (for managed services) instead of the system just doing it for me, then it’s not comparable. If I have to deal with complicated role policies, and access management instead of just saying who can and cannot push, then it’s not comparable. If it takes more than clicking a drop down to resize a service, then it’s not comparable. If I have to go to a third party website to add something like monitoring or logging from that third party, then it’s not comparable.

Agree. to this day none of them match heroku's magical DX... which makes it more mind-boggling that SalesForce seems to be really intent on just throwing it away.

Render.com seems to be the closest. It's gotten a lot closer in the past two years. And is basically trying to be more or less a clone of heroku, with a few minor update tweaks for how the world has changed (while heroku has not).

Maybe it'll reach it before heroku fully implodes -- although it's hard because so much of heroku is also the ecosystem, that so many third-parties are adding value to heroku too, from add-ons, to just writing documentation for how to integrate their thing with heroku, to external non-approved "add-ons". (If the hirefire.io developer is reading this... hirefire for render?)

Fly.io is also really interesting -- for trying to do something different than heroku, actually much more sophisticated/interesting than heroku, but the trade-off is that it's not really as management-free as heroku, it has seemed to me. (I don't want to write a Dockerfile, nope). But maybe it'll get closer too.

I agree wholeheartedly to all this and honestly, Heroku has been the gold standard I loved for years, and because of the decline had started building my own alternative with the rest...

Biggest differentiator with me and the rest? They focus on "look you can git push to deploy, we're just like Heroku!" while I am all about this DevEx.

So like parent OP said about what is comparable is my goals too.

I hope my product and vision of being "What if we rebuilt Heroku on today's tools with the DevEx?"

You can learn more and sign up for beta at https://primcloud.com

You're sort of describing the overall conundrum of the PaaSs starting about 10 years ago. A lot of especially individual developers liked them because, as you say, they were mostly drop-dead simple. The problem is that individual developers mostly don't pay and enterprise app development for good (and bad) reasons has a whole bunch of other requirements which has led a lot of the industry to adopt mostly Kubernetes based container platforms. Which are a lot more powerful and flexible but are also a lot more complex that the original PaaSs envisioned.

> reasons has a whole bunch of other requirements which has led a lot of the industry to adopt mostly Kubernetes

Made up reasons... to support the ponzi scheme of devops to increase salaries

Or maybe because there are applications out there that are bigger and more complex than your typical side-project o SaaS with a thousand users that you deploy in Heroku.

They're only complex because developers want to make them complex. It's not a demand from the user.

> They're only complex because developers want to make them complex.

I get your frustration but have to disagree; solutions like k8s exists because users, (often internal users mind you), expect things like rollouts of features several times a day, horizontal scalability etc.

I know there's a mantra on HN of let's go back to how things were in '95 and in some ways I'd love that but it just doesn't seem possible. You have to remember most devs just want to get their tickets done, they don't want to make anything complex if they can avoid it.

That being said if there's certain trends, (hardly set by your average developer), you have to go with at least some of it if you want to remain 'marketable' unfortunately.

I worked at a company that served 3 million MAU, deployed 30 times a day with PHP and a 4 TB Mysql database. Most of these tools are for companies like Twitter and Google. 99.9% of companies will never need them. The problems are made up, end of story.

I appreciate anecdotes as much as the next person but you're not responding to what I actually wrote; I am simply saying that it is not in the hands of most developers to use/not use these tools. They get no choice. Therefore blaming them is misplaced.

Most developers also don't think they're working at the next Google. There's a different group within many software companies that likes to think so, usually not your ICs.

    Most developers also don't think they're working 
    at the next Google. There's a different group within 
    many software companies that likes to think so, usually 
    not your ICs. 
In the past ten years, I've worked at three companies with dozens of developers.

I don't know if they "think they're working at the next Google", but I would say they have close to literally no conception of "performance" that doesn't mean "scaling out" to hilariously overcomplicated architectures that serve mainly to pump metric tons of money into AWS' coffers.

I worked at a company that thought you needed a Redis cluster because Performance Reasons. And they paid AWS handsomely for that belief.

What were we storing in Redis, you ask? Literally kilobytes of ephemeral data (cached values, etc).

A cluster. For kilobytes.

Obviously most examples aren't that nutty, but this kind of thinking has poisoned a whole generation of developers. It's not their money, so who cares about the AWS bill? Fuck hunting for missing indexes in the database, they just spin up a new server. It makes them look better to management because they're "getting things done" and management isn't tech-savvy enough to know otherwise.

And these aren't morons. These are talented people who are also kicking legitimate butt in many cases.

(Render founder) agreed and great feedback. We're working hard to get there.

You are correct about Laravel apps, but there's some nuance here. The Heroku magic only worked for Rails in the early days. We (Fly.io) have a similar experience for Phoenix, Rails and Remix apps. We don't have magic for Laravel yet (soon: https://fly.io/jobs/laravel-specialist/).

Docker images are a way for people to run anything they want on Fly.io. You probably won't need them on one of our happy path frameworks.

I'm personally happy to mess around with docker for an hour once if it lets me save 50%+ on running it.

It's true that Heroku has a better experience, but that doesn't matter if the NRE for making it work on a cheaper platform is recouped after barely a month. I think the fact that these services are able to be successful despite having a worse experience shows how uncompetitive Heroku's pricing is.

(I work at Render) You don't need to use Docker to run your app on Render. Just a build command or script which can do anything (e.g. `npm build`) unlike buildpacks which force you into a specific way of doing things.

If you've tried Render without Docker and it still took you forever, that's a bug we'd love to fix if you can email me (in profile).

Heroku requires a Heroku.yml, no? Seems pretty comparable to me.

It doesn't, no. I don't even know what that is (well a quick look at the documentation: it's about Docker, which is not needed for Heroku).

All it requires is a Procfile, which can contain a single line telling how to start your server and that you can extend to add other process types. It's not even needed for simple apps.

Genuine question, is a Procfile really that preferable to a Dockerfile with equivalent functionality?

> cmd: python helloworld.py

doesn't seem massively less complicated than

FROM alpine CMD ["python", "helloworld.py"]

FWIW, I've never used heroku in production so maybe it's more about the constraints of heroku than the number of words, but it just doesn't seem like a huge deal to me.

I'm familiar with docker but certainly not an expert, so this is surprising to me. Is it really possible to have a single line dockerfile?

The smallest one I've used was probably a screen full, due to updating packages, setting up bundler paths, etc. A production dockerfile is much larger with non-root user shenanigans, etc.

But to answer your question about Heroku, a Procfile is much smaller and more constrained in scope than a Dockerfile.

> I'm familiar with docker but certainly not an expert, so this is surprising to me. Is it really possible to have a single line dockerfile?

Not single line, but two lines, sure. Though you're at the mercy of your upstream image and how it configures things. Though I guess that's also true of buildpacks.

Plenty of my Dockerfiles are no more than a couple lines.

Heroku was still nicer in most ways of course, at least in my opinion.

Since I've never used Docker, I can't answer.

A Procfile works well with what you'd want to do on Heroku: run a webserver, and maybe run some other worker process. It's a single line per process, equivalent to what you run locally.

It used to not to. Before the heroku.yml file it did most of the things with either auto detection of build packs and implicit procfile generation. You could git push a vanilla rails app and it would just work. It was magical before then.

Still is. I don't use a `heroku.yml`. That appears to be an alternate available path, I don't know how many heroku customers use it.

For anyone reading, none of these are comparable to Heroku. Yes, it’s a server in the cloud that can host your app. Heroku does much much more than that. I never want to think about DevOps or infrastructure. Like literally ever. I want to click a button and have everything work. That’s the power of Heroku. I don’t see any other product that does this 100% of the time like Heroku does.

I think Render is close to this?

Cloud run has been nice, but I really wish I could get a shell in a container in the same environment as my app. The “jobs” feature they’re launching seem like it will help for some use cases of this but having a shell for debugging is something I miss.

DO App Platform would be the competition, Droplets are just bare VMs

Im doing a project in Vercel (NextJS ) and Firebase and once you get used to the recent Firebase api changes (they are fine but makes searching for answers harder) it is a fairly ok MVPing solution. You can go a long way for $0

https://appharbor.com for .NET (though not many recent signs of life).

Scalingo is mostly a clone with some twists


Contrarily, I think there are many heroku customers who would be happy to keep paying for it if they just kept actively investing in it. Maintaining it and delivering new features necessary to keep up with the changing environment. But, they are not.

How much do they charge?

Heroku's pricing model is absurdly complicated. [0] But for anything nonfree, you're probably going to end up at over $100/mo, even if just by accident.

To compare it to one of their current competitors, render [1], for something with all the same features as gave me that $100/mo figure, you're looking at about $15/mo.

[0] https://www.heroku.com/pricing

[1] https://render.com/pricing

While 100$ is a lot of money, it is not so much in business environment, I mean even a cheap software developer costs probably more than 5000$ (full cost calculation) per month. But complicated pricing is a big no-no. I mean everytime you find you need a slightly different plan going again through the purchase department?

I think Heroku just got a dead zone in pricing. It's too expensive for a single developer (for comfort at least), but any 'proper' company, even with only a couple of full-time developers, can afford the overhead to set things up in AWS.

Disagree on a small company having time to setup AWS. I work in a 2 man team, and that would be about the last thing on our priority list. We spend ~$500/month on Heroku and while that’s a lot more than it would be elsewhere, it’s also non-issue. Heroku’s main problems are:

1. There are now comparable competitors that are cheaper.

2. They seem to have stopped maintaining it properly which is gradually leading a loss of trust.

My data point in contrast to your suggestion is a company with more than a dozen developers, and a loose idea of "let's migrate from Heroku to AWS without planning much or actually educating our developers on how to use AWS to be as productive as they were in Heroku"; more than a year later, there was definitely some success to speak of, but there was a lot of realization that some of our systems were just fine on Heroku, and that we didn't have the DevOps talent to help us manage AWS better than Heroku was already helping us.

If you have a purchase department, you likely are on an entreprise plan, for which the purchase department is in direct contact with a Salesforce account executive, and that becomes a non-issue. The purchase department negotiate directly Salesforce based on projected usage, with periodic re-evaluation.

Suffice to say a “cheap” developer costs way more than $6k/year

The 100 was per month so the 6k is also per month. But let me ask: if no time is specified, is salary alway considered per year?

Depends on your locale. In the US, yes. Many parts of Europe (all?), no.

Thought it said $500 when I first read it. Must have misread

And if we look at some European cloud providers' prices, it becomes painfully obvious that any such services (even incl. Render) built on top of major US cloud providers are excruciatingly overpriced - the markups can be as large as 5x for equivalent compute: https://www.hetzner.com/cloud

This combined with something like Doku gives one a sense of what could be possible.

Please stop suggesting Hetzner for every random problem in existence.

I've been a happy Hetzner customer for years, BUT

1) They are cheap because they are comparable to a discount supermarket chain

2) They are not a cloud platform

2.1) They offer none of the advanced features available on modern cloud platforms

2.2) It would be almost impossible to build a PaaS like Heroku on Hetzner infrastructure

3) The latency to anywhere outside Europe is pretty bad (regarding EU data centers) and their network is not the best (regarding the whole network)

4) The cheap dedicated server offerings are consumer hardware (and possibly thus are the hosts for the cloud services), and the more expensive server hardware offerings are not necessarily cheaper than other options

5) They have consistent issues with their virtual/cloud offerings that are not remediable due to the aforementioned lack of advanced PaaS functionality

There is much more going on behind the scenes of a platform like Heroku than a single dokku instance on a budget host. You are comparing single apples to a global distribution chain of bananas.

I use hetzner personally (the OP article is hosted there) and I can't agree more. It's incomparable. You can get the first 90% of Heroku sure, but not any of the other 90% of reliability.

Besides reliability, the moment you need to scale up, you wish you were on Heroku or a real PaaS. Although their pricing model is unacceptable and there’s many better options by now.

We too use some Hetzner servers at work for infrequently accessed databases that have no need to be highly available. We recently migrated non-production logging to a Hetzner dedicated with 8TB of HDD. Almost unbeatable price.

Choose the right tool for the job. I have nothing against Hetzner, but I’ve been seeing them mentioned dozens of times in unsuitable contexts by now.

Thanks for the insights :-)

To put that in context, I've been a (mostly happy) architect on all three major clouds for several years. The thing that "triggered" me to explore alternative options is GCP's continuing pricing increases across the board, and it's extremely bad pricing model for indie projects (that used to NOT be the case).

One thing to realize though is all of this is VERY relative - reliability etc. CAN be achieved by using proper primitives (Kubernetes etc.), but that comes at the cost of additional setup. That does however has its upsides too, meaning that these days pretty much everything under the sun can be done via K8s on bare metal, and migrated later somewhere else with relative ease.

I haven't found GCP to be particularly expensive (besides for some subservices) - for indie projects, Firebase is top notch and, depending on your use case free or almost free -

I've always held the opinion that the markup on GCP, AWS, etc, is more than remediated by the savings in manpower requirement and cost of maintaining your own infrastructure.

Don't get me wrong, I love playing with self-hosted k8s for non-production, but when it comes to production, there's no real room for mistakes, downtime, constant maintenance and whatsoever.

If I had the time, or we had a dedicated SRE, sure - that might be a good path forward - but only if there is the chance of outgrowing the cost/profit ratio at some point. Unfortunately, what we provide at work is not a public offering, yet at the same time its being used by institutional money and has to have phenomenal availability and stability - I'd be hard pressed to sign off on a move to anything else in that case..

Yep, I like serverless offerings too (although some services, like Firestore, still leave much to be desired).

The problem is, big enterprise is "all in" on K8s and that becomes hard to reason about because when I tell them "use all of the optimizations available via GKE" they bark that that "ties them to GCP". But then when I wear another hat (as I did above) and suggest the opposite, folks in the other camp say we shouldn't rely on self- or semi-self-managed options. It seems there's no "win" here :-)

Also, to put in context what I meant above re recent price increases on GCP:

1) Per-cluster fee when it used to be free. This hurts hobbyist projects in particular (and yes, I know about the free tier for one zonal cluster, but that's not enough for playing around with one prod and one dev cluster env...).

2) Regional VM to multi-regional bucket traffic when it used to be free. This one is a huge degradation - used to be one of the selling points for Google's "Global Network", and there appears to be no excuse for it other than money-making, as Corey[0] famously mentioned. This hurts us in particular because we process so much data that this matters - right now, our (already exorbitant) cloud bill is a time bomb that is expected to go up on the scale of 50% or some such. Yeah :-)

Despite charging a lot even for internal traffic, AWS never increased pricing for any of their products, as far as I know (indeed, they decrease it over time..). That says something about GCP's reputation - it's a problem unique to Google Cloud, afaik. It breaks the fundamental trust in the platform.

[0] https://www.lastweekinaws.com/blog/google-cloud-alters-the-d...

The thing is that Hetzner is unfortunately still missing some of the low hanging fruit cloud services.

I'm building a product that intends to bridge that gap[0] -- but I think it should be done in a way that works for any provider. There are so many other smaller providers out there with decent prices, but that are completely missing the services.

It's been getting better recently though! Aiven also just raised a bunch of money, so maybe we'll see a decoupling of services from the same to multiple clouds as they expand as well.

[0]: https://nimbusws.com

I was introduced to Heroku at a hackathon, a few months before graduating college, when it was still in its prime. I was instantly hooked, and from there I went on to use it for every single solo project I’ve ever put on the internet (including a website for a small business that’s been working reliably for ~6 years now). I loathe everything about working with Docker, Kube, AWS, etc. Heroku was designed for people like me.

I still haven’t taken the time to research an alternative for future projects. I’ve had a sense the time has been coming, but I’ve been putting it off because it’s going to be a pain, and because it’s probably going to make me a little sad no matter what I land on.

Salesforce can go fly a kite.

PS: I just remembered I have a pretty good story about Heroku and that small business site I mentioned.

Originally I had the source for that site on Bitbucket. One day, I went in to make some changes and found that Bitbucket would no longer let me sign in without first converting my account to an Atlassian account. Sigh. Fine, whatever.

Well- the account migration got botched, and the end result was that I was locked out. I went through support, they couldn’t figure it out, etc. Just totally lost access to all those repositories. And I had a newish computer that didn’t have them locally stored yet. Luckily this was the only important one on there, but… it was quite important.

Then I remembered that Heroku has you push to a git remote.

I was able to recover the entire source code for the site from my Heroku app by cloning the git repo that it offered up as the deploy target.

Heroku saved me (and needless to say, I’ll never be using Bitbucket again).

Exactly the same thing happened to me (though not with BitBucket) - I'm glad you too were able to find relief!

> I wonder if we'll ever really have something like that on top of Nix or NixOS.

Xe, go do it! (:

In all seriousness, Fly.io has explored this path (and very well may pursue it depending on RoI of going down this route, I'd imagine): https://github.com/superfly/recco

Even though I'd like Fly.io to be more like Heroku, it is railway.app that comes the closest (but I believe they use buildpacks like Fly.io does rather than Nix/NixOS).

Speaking of Nix, shout out to replit (https://blog.replit.com/nix) for having a holistic view of the product and it is unlike anything I've ever seen before. And unsurprisingly, most junior developers that I interact with, prefer replit over other alternatives.

Heroku may be dead, but an entire range of upstarts have risen up in its wake: https://www.swyx.io/cloud-distros

I've been considering doing something like that but I am not at a point in my life to be risky like that. When I have permanent residency or citizenship in Canada maybe, but until then I'm happy to just be an IC at Tailscale and write out these articles on my blog as the spirit moves me.

Perhaps need to convince apenwarr et al that tailscale was originally meant to solve the long tail of software development, and not just fix the internet ;)

Agree that railway is the most promising "next-gen" heroku-like - between multi-service apps, opinionated pipelines, and the add-ons - they have got the basics right!

replit is the most holistic and unique product in the broader category. from dev to prod with laser focus on getting the experience right. But for enterprise or startup teams that needs dev/qa/CICD/testing etc it's still a bit too downmarket. And many people still want an escape hatch from the cloud IDE, or at least to use VSCode.

Coherence (www.withcoherence.com) is trying to deliver a replit-like experience for those teams. It's a new category that confuses Cloud IDE, PasS, infra-as-code and more. But in general it's obvious to us that the future looks more like replit than like anything else out there! In line with the idea that most new/junior devs want to work this way as well.

disclosure - I'm cofounder of Coherence

I just took a look at Fly.io, but one thing I liked about Heroku was the fixed pricing; for a small site I could know for sure exactly how much I'd be paying (or not paying) each month. Fly.io looks good for an actively-monitored business product that wants to scale and is trying to be really efficient with spending, but doesn't look so good for a fire-and-forget website that gets updated once a month or less.

For websites, you're looking at Vercel, Netlify, or Cloudflare Pages. I use the latter and the breath of Cloudflare's platform is impressive and keeps growing every day!

Render hits a lot of the sweet spots for me that Heroku used to…and they offer real HTTP/2 support, non-absurd pricing, and more. I’m a fan. https://render.com/

I recently migrated some apps off Heroku and onto Render. Their global chat while annoying to have on every page was actually very helpful. "Adrian" from render quickly replied to 2 of my separate inquiries within less than 10 minutes. Very close to the Heroku exprience. Plus their free redis tier (I have multiple starter plans) allows way more connections than Heroku's.

Wow, their pricing looks almost too good to be true? I think everything I've ever done with Heroku can be done for free on here, if I'm reading this right

> "Wow, their pricing looks almost too good to be true?"

Yes, and that's exactly how Heroku started too. You bait as many people as possible as early as possible, often by giving subsidies, free stuff and extreme price cuts that make you stand out. Don't forget to give away silly swag and free stickers at random "cloud conventions". None of that is sustainable in the long run (because you're bleeding cash), but your goal is to grow a large user base and get the word-of-mouth out there quickly. Once you have amassed a large population of users you start tightening the lock-in across the entire platform, and slowly raising prices across the board. Or, you keep raising money from VCs to cover up the losses with the promise of being profitable one day. Rinse and repeat.

This is the story of pretty much every cloud provider out there. The cloud is just someone else's computer.

I've since learned that it was in fact too good to be true: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=31358251

The real pricing, at least for the low-end plans I was interested in, is the same as Heroku's (which is fine by me!), but I'm turned off by the way it was marketed

That's one of many things that lead me to build https://acrobox.io. Abstracting Docker out of it for a bit more of a Heroku-like experience is on the horizon. I think it is well positioned between something like Dokku and Render but I'd be happy to hear what you think.

If you need a free PostgreSQL db (well, paid for by the VCs), use supabase.


> free databases are deleted [after 90 + 14 days]

> (unless they are upgraded to a paid plan)


> Free projects are paused after 1 week of inactivity.

Ahh, I didn't click the button to see the details which include the fact that the $0 PostgreSQL is only free for 90 days

That feels sneaky and I'm a bit turned off by it

That said, their $0 web service plan seems to have no time limit and no shutoffs; possibly equivalent to Heroku's $7 plan, which is all I've ever used

(Render employee) Our free tier is actually quite constrained (e.g. your apps go to sleep if they're not getting traffic, builds are slower, etc). But if it works for you, great!

Do they? (genuinely asking)

I was expecting that because that's what Heroku does, but I don't see anything about it on the pricing page (even in the fine print). So either it's a great deal, or highly deceptive marketing

Edit: Argh, you have to click a [?] and then click through to another page where they explain that. I think they've lost my business; that's sketchy as hell.

If that had just been up-front on the main pricing page I would have become a (small) paying customer, buying the $7 plan and moving off of Heroku. But now Render has lost my trust, so I've deleted my account.

This wasn't meant to be sneaky! We're iterating on the design of the page and this is good feedback. We'll make it clearer.

If you're taking feedback, the PostgreSQL listing also felt somewhat deceptive; you see $0 in huge text, but it's not until you expand the details and read the fine print that you see "$0 for first 90 days". That similarly felt like a bait-and-switch, though at least that one didn't require me to go to a totally different page to get the full story.

IMO, all the limitations of each one of these $0 plans should be up-front on the big, main card. You have some limitations listed there - "100 GB/month bandwidth included", "SSD disks for $0.25/GB per month", "1 GB SSD storage included", etc - which implies to the reader that those are all of the limitations. But then, the most important limitation in each case gets buried. That's what feels intentionally deceptive.

Re: Postgres, what we actually want is to offer perpetually free Postgres where multiple free customers can use the same underlying instance to make the economics work. The 90-day limit is a stopgap to make sure we're not bleeding money from thousands of tiny, barely used PG instances.

Your point around the limitations is well articulated and valid. The last thing we want is to be deceptive, even unintentionally.

Thanks, I appreciate your openness to feedback

As a quick fix, we updated our pricing page to directly link to the limits on free services and databases: https://render.com/pricing

As an utter n00b in modern web (all ends, front and back) development, what does it even mean that "static" sites are free, but so is also running Postgres?

If I have a "static" site, then I can't have any backend code that talks to the database, is that it? So the actual web pages can't use client-side Javascript to customize page content by talking to a backend, that talks to a database?

The static site doesn’t cost anything. If it talks to a Postgres database hosted on Render, then you’ll pay for that PG db, but not for the static site itself.

As an example, I am currently hosting four sites on Render.

Two are Rails sites with databases, Redis, BG workers, etc. I pay a decent amount for those, albeit quite a bit less than Heroku.

Meanwhile, two others are static sites generated with Jekyll(?) that are pure content and require no DB. I add new content locally, push to GitHub, and deploy to Render automatically through a GH action. I pay $0/month for these two sites.

Each is a separate piece, it's not either-or. A "static site" means render.com would be serving up just static files to users, but those can include client-side JS files. Now, those files wouldn't have a server to talk to (unless they're talking to third-party APIs), but you could then set up a service and/or database alongside them. Pricing is different for each of those, but it looks like base-tier web services are also free.

Hope that helps

that is correct. though it looks like you can have some backend services for free at render as well (although it comes with limitations). so if you don't mind slow first load you could have a proper dynamic app within the free tier.

I wonder where one-button database upgrades are on their roadmap. Currently still a manual process [0], and that's something I want from hosted datastores as a baseline these days.

[0]: https://render.com/docs/databases#database-versions--upgrade...

That seems pretty darn straighforward to me. (I am a heroku user, and not a render user).

For comparison, here's the heroku instructions -- still requires some downtime.


I guess you have to manually enter a few more commands for render... if that's really a big deal to people, I would think render should notice and replace it with one command that does those few for you, cause that doesn't seem so hard, does it?

Much less easy than GCP/AWS, which is more my standard for that bit.

State is the hard part to manage compared to stateless web tiers and what not, so that’s a big value prop

Too good to be true? A simple non-free Redis server starts off at a 800% premium over DO.

I believe there are some time-based limitations to their free tier. Which seems not-unreasonable. They’re a startup and have to pay for their compute resources like anyone else.

But it’s definitely enough to kick the tires and see if it fits your needs.

Looks nice :) Have been looking for something as simple as Heroku for a while now. This seems closest as of all the ones I have looked at!

The decline of Heroku is a shame, they were the first to really make cloud accessible to all.

Over at Northflank (https://northflank.com), we're trying to continue that trend and great developer experience is our main priority. We address many of the same points you mention - simply `git push` to build and deploy (using Dockerfiles or Buildpacks), instant free DNS & TLS, one-click addons (Postgres, Mongo, Redis...), environment variables inherited from databases, and much much more - all with sensible pricing.

Feel free to check out what we've been building at https://northflank.com/changelog

Nothflank looks cool!

Something I miss in particular about Heroku's git-push-to-deploy experience is that you'd know whether the build/deploy succeeded by the time the push finished.

Modern “GitOps”-based deployments that rely on webhooks or polling are fine, but it feels so disjointed to me to `git push` and then have to go watch some other system to see if the deploy succeeded.

How do these modern gitops based deployments work?

I've got a bare repo to push into, with hooks to sync to the live repo and run the Makefile upon push. I just see the output of the make command upon running `git push`.

The most basic of workflows shows the deploy status. I think you'd have to specifically go out of your way to hide it?

The deploy happens asynchronously from the push. Instead of having a separate repo you push to in order to deploy, the main branch of the shared GitHub (or whatever) repo just gets automatically deployed whenever there's a push (or sometimes it's triggered by a tag). So there's no feedback at all on push.

Ah of course! In fact I even have one personal project with collaborators, and indeed I've set it to deploy on push using GitHub actions, and indeed there's no feedback.

Pushing straight to the prod server is nicer UX, but I guess that only works reasonably well with one person, or a very tiny team.

You could just stream the updates to the cli. You'd have to be okay with using a command that handles pushing for you.

It's not just about the updates. If the deploy fails, then your push should also fail. That way your deploy branch is always a reflection of what's actually deployed.

If you're interested in rolling your own mini-Heroku, check out https://github.com/piku. I created it with the intent of having a similar experience and a very tight loop between writing code and getting it running, and it's been great bang for the proverbial buck (~1500 SLOC altogether).

Doesn't use containers, though, which many consider to be an anti-feature :)

> the way Heroku worked…

The author implies that something has changed — and that nowadays, you can’t `git push heroku main`. But according to the docs, it’s still just as simple.

I guess I don’t understand how Heroku’s DevEx has changed. Seems just as intuitive as it’s always been. But I could be missing something.

What I took away from the post is not that Heroku no longer works like that, but that it's a sinking ship, and thus not advisable to use any longer.

I struggled to follow parts of this article. She discussed taking to the CTO about bad insurance, and then followed that section with “I got hired.” The whole thing meanders and barely has a point or provides evidence, and I’m not truly convinced it’s a singing ship. That said, I do defer to ex-employees on this matter.

I’m mostly looking for alternatives because people keep saying I should (and I could possibly get double the ram for the same price). But I just git push heroku mastered 5 minutes ago and it took about 1 minute to build, and it was wonderful.

I was a contractor before I was an employee because Salesforce was starving the beast until they made CRM features. Never work with MBO Partners. They do not give two shits about you, just your money that they take a huge percentage of.


Not too long ago I was like “we’ve been paying heroku $59/mo for years (open source, non-commercial, funded by patreon) and while I don’t have any issues I can’t tell if it’s kind of in maintenance mode or what.” So I checked the blog and saw posts like “Faster Dynos for All” and their email newsletter which regularly mentions improvements to service. From those I felt reassured that they’re still improving it. But then came a wave of “heroku alternatives” and posts lamenting how heroku is blowing it. I’m grateful to hear reports from the other side (though again, my personal experience with heroku is still totally fine - and we don’t do the github integration)!

Based on Salesforce's handling of the April / May security breach / incident I would not recommend Heroku, not even to other developers who understand risks and would just use it for hobby / throwaway projects.

Gonna have to test all the meme alternatives soon, fly / render / glitch / porter.

So like talking about your 97-year-old grandmother in past tense, as if she was already dead, because she will be in a year or two.

I wouldn't bet my income on my 97-year-old grandmother for surviving as long as I promised my clients their website would stay online.

That said, I don't think Heroku is that close to being sunset, but that's my guess, and that guess is as good as the people who say it is. I'm currently messing around with fly.io and that product is so young one would be crazy to think it has better chances to last the next decade than Heroku does.

I don't think Salesforce is probably planning on sunseting Heroku anytime soon.

But they seem to be totally starving it, allocating it the minimum of resources they think they can to keep it going pretty much as it is without any new features.

Based on how they handled the recent security update, I won't be surprised if it... just kind of crumbles into the sea at some point.

We all know that software doesn't just "keep working" at all without continual maintenance. For several different reasons, security being one of them. Heroku's ability to keep "just working" with the languages/platforms it does, as new versions of such come out, seems to be dependent on an increasingly smaller workforce that goes above and beyond.

The word "worked" could just as well be "works" (present tense) because Heroku still works exactly as the author describes (I think the author is recounting how it worked when they were there, hence why they use past tense).

There was discussion about this the other day:


`git push heroku main` doesn't work if your repository is large enough (not sure if this is raw file sizes or the Git data size). Some of our apps can't be redeployed using this method, we have to use the build workaround which has its own set of issues.

Heroku is the gold standard of running apps.

With every new company I work for or with, I always try to take small step to get closer to that setup.

Whatever contraption you may create on top of AWS, GCloud, Azure will never have the same smooth experience, but if you've experienced Heroku, you can at least try to get better logging accessible with a simple command, buy managed databases, use env vars instead of messy configurations / secrets management systems.

Now I'll go back to debug my K8S pods, hopefully I can remember the sequence of kubectl commands I need.

This article doesn't really lay out what - from a customer perspective - would class heroku as a sinking ship? The DevEx is still great, the alternatives are either borderline ridiculous (K8S is a laughably complex beast in comparison), or not fully cooked yet (fly.io, render etc.) I know that it's expensive, but it's nowhere near the price of having an engineer manage cloud infrastructure full-time.

I would love Heroku to have more reasonably priced compute. I'm desperately hoping that genuine competition in this space will pressure Heroku into sorting this. But the frequent refrain recently that Heroku just doesn't match with my experience in recent years. When the alternative PaaS solutions offer a comparable postgres service, then we'll have a genuine competitor. Until then, I'm not sure I really grok the level of disdain for it that's been on HN recently.

I agree, but I no longer have confidence that salesforce will keep heroku working. Or ever add another feature again. At some point, as the world changes, a feature-freeze is actually going backwards.

But so far there's still nothing as mature and reliable as heroku, i agree. fly and render (and maybe some others) are getting closer; I just hope they get there before heroku becomes untenable, which I now expect it to.

I got the impression the OP was calling it a "sinking ship" based on the inside view of what's going on. From the customer perspective, it all still works, although the fact that it hasn't changed in 5 years, as the world has continued to, is not encouraging. But what I hear from the inside (not just from OP) is what nails it down.

I have more or less this experience right now with both Google App Engine and Digital Ocean App Platform. For GAE it's driven by Github Actions, for DO it's built in. Either way it's just:

    git checkout production; git merge master; git push
It doesn't take much wiring to set it all up. Heroku is great but it isn't the only PaaS.

DigitalOcean's App Platform is still a bit immature, but I think it has the most potential to be a heroku-like experience.

Everything, including Heroku, feels a bit immature compared to GAE. Just the stackdriver logging alone is worth the price. I couldn't live without cloud tasks. And of course the autoscaling...

DOAP has some minor issues and a very minimal feature list but it's significantly less expensive than GAE. I use it to run a memory-hungry image processing service that would otherwise hurt too much. We still log remotely to stackdriver.

When the git push process finishes, do you know that the deploy succeeded without running any other command or looking at other logs? Does the push fail if it the deploy itself was unsuccessful?

It posts a slack message to a channel, which triggers an alert on my desktop. My build/test/deploy cycle (for the GAE app, which is the primary service) is currently about 25 minutes. I'm happy with the flow.

My only real complaint is that Github Actions offers almost nothing if a build fails. I try to put some useful info in the slack message, but often I have to download and grep the build logs.

Yeah, that's the difference between Heroku and all these "alternatives" people tend to recommend. They are not the same.

Heroku you push your code to git and if the push succeeded, the deploy is done. If the deploy fails, so does the git push.

If you have failing deploys in your case, you'll end up in a state where what's deployed is not the same as what's on the git branch. Personally, I avoid that like the plague.

I use GAE for just about every deployment I have. Works very well. And I like that I can deploy code from whatever branch (or no branch at all) to whatever service I want.

This article resonates pretty deeply with me, an engineer at a different company Salesforce acquired years ago that, like Heroku, "had resisted integration into the larger Salesforce organization and as a result was really really starved for headcount."

I joined right when the organization was starting to give in and integrate more, largely out of a combination of need for resources and OG execs having been either replaced or else "org-chart-subjugated" by Salesforce execs, whose influence grew stronger over time.

I'm looking towards the door a lot these days. The last few years have been a slow downhill slide, but the last month in particular feels like the edge of the slope where it becomes a straight drop down into the abyss.

I've been brushing up on leetcode and polishing up my résumé. As catharsis and to help me process the stress and everything I've been feeling at work lately, I even wrote up a "goodbye" letter in my _personal_ Google Drive account, and I guess this article's author had the same feeling as me, because "my coworkers have left the sinking ship, and it's time for me to get on a lifeboat too" was the exact analogy that came to my mind, which matches the OP's bit about "the ship has been sinking for years but the culture of Heroku really stuck around long enough that it was hard to realize the ship was sinking", and I've felt the same sad realization that the author expresses here as "The Heroku I joined no longer exists. I joined Heroku but I left Salesforce."

I joined $acquisition, but my reasons for leaving, once I get it all all lined up, will be Salesforce. It doesn't help that Salesforce has committed to a long-term project with the explicit goal of making $acquisition no longer exist. That just confirms the reality of what I've experienced as being an intentional choice by the company rather than an accident.

Author of the article here, reach out to me (@theprincessxena on twitter, xena on keybase, Xe on libera.chat) if you want to commiserate

As someone non-technical, Heroku is what helped me launch my first production site. It was really like magic when I discovered it existed, because I was intimidated by AWS. It's sad reading accounts from employees, seemed like a great place with great product.

Hopefully, competitors can match them, what I've read is that they are a bit less mature than them. I actually still have a production site, will need to move off soon.

I've got over 130 apps on Heroku for my various SaaS products and client websites etc. I feel like I'm going to experience a world of pain very soon to migrate away to another provider... I just took a look at fly.io and they seem too dev-opy for my tastes these days.

I opted for Heroku after going down the whole Linode route years back and have never looked back. I enjoy the simplicity of deployment and not having to worry too much about servers etc.

I recently got to play with Render and DigitalOcean's App Platform and they were okay... just not sure if they'll be suitable for Rails (Postgres/Redis etc). I want something straightforward like Heroku, but without the issues of late. Oh and the costs...

I bet most of those client websites would run just fine with Dokku. It's not ideal, but it'd probably reduce your costs at least. (Speaking as ex-herokai here, from what I've seen render.io seems to have the closest hosted experience, and unlike many of the other commenters in this thread I'm allergic to google cloud and would strongly recommend against GAE :) )

Thanks you, nameless912. I've been leaning towards Render, so cheers for the info. Will take a look into Dukku, but feel it's probably going back a step for my purposes as it'll involve managing a server (or set of servers).

It will, but the upkeep is extremely low. It takes roughly 15 minutes to set up a DigitalOcean box with Dokku (I think they can even install it automatically for you if you set up a cloud-init script). What I'd honestly do if I was managing a LOT of sites is write a tiny bit of terraform or something to stand up all those sites, and then delete and recreate all of the servers on like a quarterly basis so they all get patched. Slightly more upkeep, but an 8gig/4CPU DO box costs like 48 bucks a month, which is a hell of a lot better than Heroku at that price point.

Heroku was paramount to "proving" _what_ developer experience was at the earliest stage of my career.

Because of Heroku, anytime I build products for other developers, I put so much time and effort into trying to design something intuitive to use to for the domain.

“ The body of Heroku remains but the soul has long since fled.”

some of us are still there keeping her soul alive, and plan to do so for our customers for a long time.

Mark, I worked with you for a number of years at Heroku. I apologize for not being brave enough to reveal my identity but I think the time has come for the old guard to throw in the towel.

I was certainly a part of that old guard and was a loud critic of sfdc's progressively worse plans and generally how they treated us but we're well past the point that this ship could be turned around. Even if sfdc decided to significantly reinvest in the platform (which I can not imagine anyways) recent events have caused the customers to no longer trust Heroku to be good stewards of the platform. Heroku has no chance of making it at this point.

What's worse is Heroku is actively harming the ecosystem by lumbering along like this. Despite how bad things are, it's still keeping investment from upstarts trying to compete against them because Heroku still has plenty of market share. You're not being honest with your customers what the future really looks like for the platform—those customers would be far better served on something they won't have to migrate off of in the next year or two.

Move on: let someone else take the reins and be what Heroku could've been if it had the proper investment.

Thank you for your hard work! I used Heroku for 4.5 years at a previous job and never stopped loving what it did for me and my team.

Honestly just use Cloud Run on GCP.

Push code to GitHub = gets deployed (via buildpacks so no dockerfile needed unless u want one) behind a load balanced tls domain.

Wanna use env vars? It’s right there in the ux.

Prefer to use “secrets”? Right there in the ux.

Want SQL? CloudSQL is around the corner.

The big miss for me is a shell into a running cloud run container, which you can’t do even with reserved cpus yet.

Getting dramatiq (a python sidekiq equivalent) running on the CPU-reserved containers was pretty excruciating. They recommend that functionality for background jobs, but cloud run still needs an HTTP-bound port to know whether apps are running, and also the sandboxing in the gen1 instances didn't work with dramatiq (not sure what, something about forking I imagine?). The error trail was useless for it. Gen2 instances worked. They're also pretty expensive, start at like $40/month for a tiny 1cpu/256mb instance? It's a non-shared CPU, but that's pricey! Memorystore is pricey for bootstrapping too, the cheapest instance is like $35?

Other than that it has been okay. There are some weird surprises, like needing to spin up a VPN connector to hit memorystore on non-public endpoints. (Because surprise! GCP serverless doesn’t run in a VPC you have an iota of control over.) Some friction like that they need to have better defaults for.

Suffice to say, all these things mean the experience is still way, way higher friction than heroku was a decade ago. I'm hopeful they'll keep iterating though.

Yeah that’s def a little gotcha.

Google just announced “jobs” for Cloud Run which is nice but yeah not ssh into an instance.

Then again if you’re using the official google buildpack or your own Dockerfile you can just run it locally

Well, I was trying to diagnose that redis issue specifically, hah! So being in the running environment was exactly what I needed in order to understand the issue.

My temporary fix has been to run a container OS vm instance and run the container, but connecting sql, secrets, etc from my cloud run env is painful (the whole thing I'm leaning on cloud run for in the first place)

I would love to use the new jobs 100% but they're preview in europe-west9 only, both oddly specific and useless for me, heh.

I'm pretty spike on google cloud as a whole though. Interop between their services is getting pretty great, and for me it's simpler than AWS. Their addition of AlloyDB fixes the one thing that kind of scared me about having to move in the future too!

Cloud Run is awesome, probably the best "megacloud" container/serverless product. But compared to Heroku it still leaves a lot on the table when it comes to developer experience. Stuff like: long-running workers, crons (they're just fixing this in beta this week), ability to get a shell to run arbitrary commands, having multiple environments, auto-configuration of sql/redis connections. Then if you're doing a "real" production-grade app you have to deal with how you orchestrate multiple cloud run instances behind a load balancer (e.g. frontend/backend) and how you deal with CI/CD across multiple environments for that plus all the problems above. Even Heroku has many of the 2nd class of issues (as do the other PaaS that have copied them). Next-gen PaaS like render or railway solve some of these issues, but then you're left with the most critical Heroku issue - lock-in and inability to extend beyond the closed walls of the platform.

For all these reasons, we're building Coherence (www.withcoherence.com). Our first version actually uses Cloud Run - it sounds like we'd solve a lot of your particular problems! But we are also going to offer AWS/Fargate and other deployment targets - since all these platforms have similar issues at this time. The idea is too package up a solution to these issues that goes from dev to production for real-world applications built by serious teams. To democratize a first-class developer experience without all the compromise.

As decent as Cloud Run is (and it is nice, AFAICT the most pleasant/productive container deployment thing out there atm), CloudSQL is a tire fire, especially the complete lack of tooling and connectivity if your database is within a VPC.

Came here to say this also. You can pretty easily replicate the Heroku workflow with Buildpacks and cloud run and end up with a much better service in the process.

I still have the same experience with dokku. It's magical.

  git push # it just builds

  dokku enter # and I'm inside a container on the remote machine.

What happens when that dokku server goes down?

Damn, I could not test Dokku on my M1 ARM processor, as it's x86 only.

Thats not true. Dokku supports amd64, arm, and arm64. While you can install it via Debian package, here is the Docker image you can run on OSX: https://hub.docker.com/r/dokku/dokku/tags

Note: I am the Dokku maintainer.

7 Years ago I blogged about if the Platform as Service business model is dead [0]. The PaaS hosting market share by Gartner was never met. Many startups in the space died.

We (fortrabbit) are offering "PHP as a Service" for more than 10 years now. It works for us as a small business. I am happy to see new services serving the same itch getting created today.

[0] https://blog.fortrabbit.com/cloudscapes-rerevisited

These threads always have plenty of great suggestions of alternatives for just getting started or hobby development. What are people using for mid-range stuff? I want the features and ease of Heroku, without having to build it all ourselves on top of AWS directly. Something on the order of $1-5k/mo spend, more than a "hobby", but not enough to justify a devops team wearing pagers.

There was a period where there were a bunch of "Heroku for Python" startups (eg. Gondor.io) that were gaining traction and approximating the Heroku DX. As soon as Heroku added support for Python, they all deflated.

In an alternate timeline where Heroku delayed adding Python support, the competitive pressure to keep the DX simple might have won out.

Bottom of the article tells me I shouldn't have been able to see this yet, especially here (edit: right... timezones... nevermind):

> If you're reading this before the 12th, welcome to an experiment! I've been wondering about how to make some of my posts Patreon exclusive for a week. This post was published for my patrons on the 5th of May. Please don't share this link around on social media until the 12th, but privately sharing it is okay.

I made the same mistake and almost commented similarly

For EU-based PaaS, check out Clever Cloud. They are based in Nantes, France and have servers in France (Paris, Roubaix) and Poland (Warsaw), and other locations outside the EU.

I host my Node.js apps & databases (PostgreSQL, Redis) there and their GitOps is smooth.


I'm working towards building the best possible experience for hosting multiple sites on a single machine at a fixed price at https://acrobox.io. Abstracting Docker didn't make the cut for my MVP but it may be the right fit for some of the commenters here.

Whenever I talk about Fly.io people ask if it's like Heroku. But I never used Heroku so I can't say. Is it?

It's like after heroku everyone just decided to make things as complex as they can get and now we are stuck with overpaid devops departments that should not be necessary and AWS bills that leave us in tears.

surprised not much mention of Elastic Beanstalk here - it has nearly an identical dev experience to Heroku. I moved past using it years ago but if I was looking for exactly that experience I'd probably go with it or if I was using Elixir likely I'd use fly.io because they seem to have it down pat for elixir/phoenix projects the way heroku did for ruby

Whenever I see someone say this... I wonder if your project(s) are just really different than mine, or if instead what you notice about a dev experience is just really different than what I do.

Because for me Elastic Beanstalk (plus presumably other AWS services like RDS? SQS and something else for background processes?) isn't close to the experience of Heroku of not having to think about ops at all for my whole infrastructure, including my rdbms etc.

I think the modern version of this is render (render.com)

I’ve found their devex to be delighful and able to provide power without much of the conplexity.

Why did Salesforce acquire Heroku? I don't see the business logic.

Why not use Render.com or Fly.io? There are many competitors nowadays.

Author of the article here if you have any questions


Before being hacked.

use fly.io!

I miss when people that wrote docs in markdown actually converted them to HTML as intended.

Interestingly, it does look to be doing some clever things which makes me think it's intentional - resizing seems to make the formatting reflow (for example, an extra `>` mark appears for block quotes if it flows onto another line, links have been converted to HTML, and horizontal lines scale to the size of the browser window)

The page isn't written in markdown though.

Is it AsciiDoc? Regardless, the `=======` indicates a heading. The `` indicates inline code.

The `----` indicates horizontal rules (page breaks). The `>` indicates blockquotes.

The symbols are just decorative; it’s not being parsed by anything so there’s no reason for it to be any kind of valid syntax

So writing markup but not actually converting it to look hip? I don't understand the point.

This is how people used to write plain text documents. It’s a stylistic choice. It looks like Markdown because Markdown was deliberately designed to result in documents that look like this style.

In other words, you have cause and effect backwards. This doesn’t look like Markdown; Markdown looks like this.

Have you ever seen documentation from seventies? Are you familiar with Usenet? I think jdlshore point needs to be reiterated: markdown follows older stylistic conventions. That article is written like typewriter produced document (except few details, like image on top and so on).

Same with emoticons vs emojis: those "textual representations" of emojis, like ":-)" predate emojis.

You don’t have to like the aesthetic, but there's no need to disparage it either. I think it looks nice.

I'm sorry. My comment was meant as constructive feedback, but I probably came across as an asshole. I do like the blog and the content which are the most important components. I just wish that the content was actually rendered semi-normally. If you think it looks cool, that is all that matters really.

That’s cool, but writing a coding blog with fake markup might confuse people. This is feedback. Not insults.

My intent is to make it look "straight outta emacs". If I didn't adjust the colors to have way more contrast, it does have the same color scheme as I use in emacs.

Honestly I love your blog and the motif. I find it clever and visually interesting. More feedback

it's not markup, it's ascii art. works well, looks fine to me.

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