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Elixir/Phoenix Implementation for Todo-Backend

Deployed to

Tested against Todo-Backend API tests

Here's a step-by-step guide to implementing an Elixir/Phoenix Todo-Backend deployed to Heroku.

First, let's create our new Phoenix project

$ mix todobackend
* creating todobackend/config/config.exs
* creating todobackend/config/dev.exs
* creating todobackend/config/prod.exs
* creating todobackend/config/prod.secret.exs
* creating todobackend/config/test.exs
* creating todobackend/lib/todobackend.ex
* creating todobackend/lib/todobackend/endpoint.ex
* creating todobackend/test/controllers/page_controller_test.exs
* creating todobackend/test/views/error_view_test.exs
* creating todobackend/test/views/page_view_test.exs
* creating todobackend/test/support/conn_case.ex
* creating todobackend/test/test_helper.exs
* creating todobackend/web/controllers/page_controller.ex
* creating todobackend/web/templates/layout/application.html.eex
* creating todobackend/web/templates/page/index.html.eex
* creating todobackend/web/views/error_view.ex
* creating todobackend/web/views/layout_view.ex
* creating todobackend/web/views/page_view.ex
* creating todobackend/web/router.ex
* creating todobackend/web/web.ex
* creating todobackend/mix.exs
* creating todobackend/
* creating todobackend/lib/todobackend/repo.ex
* creating todobackend/test/support/model_case.ex
* creating todobackend/.gitignore
* creating todobackend/brunch-config.js
* creating todobackend/package.json
* creating todobackend/web/static/css/app.scss
* creating todobackend/web/static/js/app.js
* creating todobackend/web/static/vendor/phoenix.js
* creating todobackend/priv/static/images/phoenix.png

Install mix dependencies? [Yn] Y
* running mix deps.get

Install dependencies? [Yn] Y
* running npm install

We are all set! Run your Phoenix application:

    $ cd todobackend
    $ mix phoenix.server

You can also run it inside IEx (Interactive Elixir) as:

    $ iex -S mix phoenix.server

Let's go ahead and commit the base application

$ cd todobackend
$ git init
$ git add .
$ git commit -m "initial phoenix 0.12 application"

Next, let's get it ready for Heroku

First we'll provision our Heroku application

$ heroku create --buildpack "" --app todobackend-phoenix

We'll rebuild our app for every dyno restart, for now, at least.

# Procfile
web: mix clean && mix phoenix.server

We'll set our app to use the database that the Heroku buildpack includes

# config/prod.secret.exs
config :todobackend, Todobackend.Repo,
  adapter: Ecto.Adapters.Postgres,
  url: {:system, "DATABASE_URL"},
  size: 20 # The amount of database connections in the pool

Heroku has our app running behind a routing layer, so our app runs on a non-standard port and doesn't really know its hostname. Let's set those for when we generate full urls for the client.

# config/prod.exs
config :todobackend, Todobackend.Endpoint,
  http: [port: {:system, "PORT"}],
  url: [host: "", port: 80],
  cache_static_manifest: "priv/static/manifest.json"

We'll also create the digest versions of our assets now

$ mix phoenix.digest

Let's add and commit all the files. Since config/prod.secrets.exs was initially included in .gitignore, we'll need to tell git, that we do indeed want it versioned. And then we'll ship what we have to Heroku

$ git add .
$ git add -f config/prod.secret.exs
$ git commit -m "prep for Heroku"
$ git push heroku master
$ heroku open

Create the Todo model

$ mix phoenix.gen.json Todo todos title:string order:integer completed:boolean

If you want to go ahead and run mix ecto.create and mix ecto.migrate for your local development database, you may. We'll tell Heroku to in a few minutes

# web/router.ex
  scope "/api", Todobackend do
    pipe_through :api
    resources "/todos", TodoController
$ git add .
$ git commit -m "add initial Todo model"
$ git push heroku master
$ heroku run mix ecto.create
$ heroku run mix ecto.migrate

Note: heroku run mix ecto.create may return an error like ** (Mix) The database for Todobackend.Repo couldn't be created, reason given: Error: You must install at least one postgresql-client-<version> package. That's ok. The command probably still worked and you should be able to proceed with heroku run mix ecto.migrate.

If we run the Todo-Backend tests against our new service, they'll fail because we haven't enabled CORS yet.


# web/router.ex
  def cors(conn, _opts) do
    |> put_resp_header("Access-Control-Allow-Origin", "*")
    |> put_resp_header("Access-Control-Allow-Headers", "Content-Type")
    |> put_resp_header("Access-Control-Allow-Methods", "GET,PUT,PATCH,OPTIONS,DELETE,POST")
# web/router.ex
  pipeline :api do
    plug :cors
    plug :accepts, ["json"]

TodoBackend's CORS test will also require the OPTIONS HTTP verb for the Todos

# web/router
  scope "/api", Todobackend do
    pipe_through :api
    resources "/todos", TodoController
    options "/todos", TodoController, :options
    options "/todos/:id", TodoController, :options
# web/controllers/todo_controller.ex
  def options(conn, _params) do
    |> send_resp(200, "GET,POST,DELETE,OPTIONS,PUT")
$ git add .
$ git commit -m "add CORS support"
$ git push heroku master

Yay! Our first TodoBackend test passes!

Adjust the JSON serialization of Todo

We don't need any of the parameters scrubbed for logging for this app, so let's remove it.

# web/controllers/todo_controller.ex

  # plug :scrub_params, "todo" when action in [:create, :update]
  plug :action

We also have a mismatch between what Phoenix expects by default and what the Todo Frontend is sending. By default Phoenix expects our Todo to look like the following.

{ "todo":
  { "order": 10, 
    "title": "blah"

The Todo Frontend is only sending that inner bit, so let's excise the outer bit from our controller.

# web/controllers/todo_controller.ex
  def create(conn, todo_params) do
# ...
  def update(conn, todo_params = %{"id" => id}) do

Similarly, for the response, by default Phoenix will nest our Todo model under data like the following.

{ "data":
  { "id": 1

Let's edit the TodoView to remove the data and to add more attributes other than id.

# web/views/todo_view.ex
  def render("index.json", %{todos: todos}) do
    render_many(todos, "todo.json")

  def render("show.json", %{todo: todo}) do
    render_one(todo, "todo.json")

  def render("todo.json", %{todo: todo}) do
      title: todo.title,
      order: todo.order,
      completed: todo.completed,
      url: todo_url(Todobackend.Endpoint, :show, todo),

We also want to specify that order and completed are optional fields.

# web/models/todo.ex
  @required_fields ~w(title)
  @optional_fields ~w(order completed)
$ git add .
$ git commit -m "match JSON serialization of Todo to structure of client's expectations"
$ git push heroku master

Whoa! All of a sudden 3 tests pass now!

Add Delete All

Todo Frontend expects us to implement a delete all if we receive DELETE /api/todos. This functionality isn't part of the Phoenix resources, so we'll need to add it.

# web/router.ex
  scope "/api", Todobackend do
    pipe_through :api
    resources "/todos", TodoController
    options "/todos", TodoController, :options
    options "/todos/:id", TodoController, :options
    delete "/todos", TodoController, :delete_all
# web/controllers/todo_controller.ex
 def delete_all(conn, _params) do

    todos = Repo.all(Todo)
    render(conn, "index.json", todos: todos)
$ git add .
$ git commit -m "implement delete all"
$ git push heroku master

Holy Smokes! All the tests pass now. Congratulations!

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