Details the creation of an application that can be hosted on Heroku and built with Grunt
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Build First, Deploy, Build Again


This repository is part of the JavaScript Application Design: A Build First Approach book's code samples, the full original for the code samples can be found here. You can learn more about the book itself here.

This tutorial is part of the code samples accompanying the book in Chapter 4, about the release flow, deployments, and hosted application monitoring.

Back in ch04e05 Heroku Deployments we learned how to install, create, configure, and deploy to a environment hosted on the Heroku platform. We've left out a particularly important piece of information though. How are we supposed to get a Grunt build on our Heroku environment?

Heroku and Grunt Builds

Where is the result of our Grunt build supposed to go? Should we check in build results to source control? Should we add a grunt build step to our Procfile? The answer lies in Heroku Buildpacks, as explained in the book.

In this case, we will use the heroku-buildpack-nodejs-grunt, which helps us run Grunt builds on the Heroku platform. Buildpacks are glorified bundles of shell scripts which Heroku uses to as an interface to compile all sorts of applications.

Mostly, the buildpack lets us keep our Grunt dependencies in devDependencies like we've been doing. We wouldn't be able to do this using the default Heroku build pack for Node.js, as it currently runs npm install --production, omitting the modules in devDependencies. We want to keep them in devDependencies because they're not really part of the running application, but merely a part of the build.

Stepping Through

In this sample I'll just be running a JSHint task for simplicity's sake, but we could use this same setup to compile Jade templates, for example, and the files would still live in the environment.

If you don't have an account on Heroku, the Toolbelt, haven't log on or didn't yet upload an RSA key, make sure to check out the previous example, ch04e05 Heroku Deployments, you'll need to do those things to be able to follow through with this tutorial.


Create the Heroku Application

Next up we need to create a Heroku app, using the special buildpack we've been talking about.

heroku create thing --buildpack


Deploying stays the same

git push heroku master


But suddenly, a wild Grunt build appears! The heroku Grunt task alias will be invoked. In this case, we've aliased it to ['jshint']. These were taken before setting options for the linter, to use the "node" profile.


Note that if the build fails, the deployment won't go through.

That's all that we need to do in order to run Grunt builds on Heroku!