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Deploy PHP Apps to Heroku, Simplified (bitnami.org)
23 points by ridruejo on Feb 21, 2013 | hide | past | favorite | 9 comments

This is cool, useful, and good news but there's a "but" coming. There are far better options for PHP hosting than Heroku. Other technologies like Ruby, Node, and Java require what less technical developers would consider "extra" work and consideration. What I mean by that is that you can't just plop your Rails or node or Django or Java app on a server, visit it in a browser, and have it run. But PHP is different. Most PHP applications save for some very complex ones only need PHP installed then developing and running them is honestly as simple as creating static HTML pages.

So with that said, why use Heroku when you can use AppFog FortRabbit or, dare I say, shared hosting for cheaper and with the same amount of convenience?

Don't get me wrong, the fact that they're supporting these stacks for PHP is cool and I'm one of the minority that doesn't think PHP is going anywhere soon. I'm sure it's a pretty great learning experience for some people to deploy their PHP app on a service like Heroku - there's no doubt about the value in that. I just wonder "why support PHP on Heroku"? I mean, if Heroku one day made it impossible to run PHP apps I don't think many would miss it and may make things easier on the Heroku guys. There's no shortage of platforms that support PHP out there.

I'd imagine they believe the same thing you (and I) do: Opinions about it aside, PHP isn't going anywhere. If nothing else, perhaps the target audience is Heroku users who are for whatever reason using PHP instead of their usual tech for a project. Or they're looking to edge into the FortRabbit market and just haven't gotten there with the offering yet... I'd think there are plenty of angles to work.

I'm also not sure about "PHP isn't going anywhere" being a minority opinion. Even people who disparage it usually understand that its ubiquity, ease of deployment, low learning curve, etc. mean it's unlikely to leave us alone any time soon, if ever.

Agreed Heroku is not necessarily the ultimate PHP platform :) We plan on bundling support for other third-party platforms, in particular dotCloud and Beanstalk as well as add support for our Java, NodeJS, Django, etc. stacks. We want to provide the best experience hosting locally (that's why we launched MAMP in the app store as well https://itunes.apple.com/app/mamp-stack/id571310406) and then allow people to deploy to their favorite host.

Having actually deployed a PHP project on Heroku, this would have been a godsend at the time I started. While Heroku unofficially supports PHP (for Facebook apps), their default PHP stack leaves a lot to be desired. In particular, lack of default zlib and multi-byte string support caused all sorts of chaos.

I don't blame Heroku for this, since they don't officially support PHP, but it was a PITA. Luckily, someone else had already encountered these issues, and I was able to plunk in some pre-built libs.

I chose Heroku because I wanted to familiarize myself with the top PaaS provider, but if I had to do it again, I would have bitten the bullet, learned a new language, and not mentioned it to the client. Or, if I were forced to use PHP, I'd have gone with a provider where it's a first-class citizen.

Does anyone know what this actually is? Is it just a local stack that delivers requests to PHP in the same way that Heroku does? Or did they do a custom buildpack?

I am not sure what "Heroku on your local machine" means...

I have a custom php buildpack that I made (forked from heroku, borrowed some other ideas...) but to run it locally I just use PHP-FPM and there's nothing more to it...

It is a local PHP environment that bundles the Heroku client libraries. If you already have your own setup, it is not that big of a deal. For people developing on Windows, for example, it can be tricky to even setup the minimal Ruby environment to install Heroku libraries, etc. This is primarily targeted to developers that already know PHP but are getting started with Heroku

I'm actually a fairly big fan of running Wordpress on Heroku. It works great and it's very nice to have my Rails, Node and PHP apps all on the same PAAS.

I use the wordpress-heroku project [1] and it has been great.

1 - https://github.com/mhoofman/wordpress-heroku

Do you run into issues when some of the plugins require a shared, persistent filesystem? I know you can redirect uploads to S3, etc. but some other plugins expect a filesystem

Yes, that is definitely an issue. On the flip side having Wordpress run on Postgres and a Read only filesystem mitigates some security issues.

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