Hosting reviews: Heroku

Posted by Jordan on 06/14/2011 in Heroku and Rails Hosting Reviews.

Here at Railshosting.org our goal is to bring you the most up to date information in the world of Rails hosting. Whether that's uncovering news stories, bringing you great lists of tutorials, top hosts, or giving you the information you need to make the best choice possible to host your app. In an effort to bring you the most up to date information we've decided to crowd-source some of our information and bring you hosting reviews of some of our top hosts. These posts will feature just one host and will give you a plethora of pros and cons to weigh your decision against. As is expected the reviews contained in these articles are not the opinions of Railshosting.org. Instead it's the voice of the internet, those that have gone before you that speaks on these posts. We hope that their experiences, good or bad, will aid you in your journey to build and deploy the application of your dreams.

The first host that we will review is Heroku. Heroku is one of the absolute leaders in hosting Ruby on Rails applications. Many developers choose to host their apps with them because of their superb hosting environment and free package which is very flexible and generous. We've gathered up some of the many reviews of Heroku's services.

Overall Heroku hosting reviews

  1. To start we've got a great review of Heroku's overall service and offerings. It's a great, thorough and to the point article that explains what Heroku offers and how their services work. Here's a small snippet of what the article has to say:
  2. "As a Ruby platform as a service, Heroku is built from the ground up to work in an open environment and benefit from the Ruby language.  You can create new Rails applications, and they are "magically" hosted up in the cloud. You can import your own Rails application, or you can use the inline editor and tools to build the application directly in the browser.

    Being able to quickly build an application and have it running live is great. On small scale projects and especially for Rails newbies Heroku has several significant attractions over standard Rails development:

    • Zero Setup. You really can get straight into coding with Heroku.  It takes about 15 minutes to deploy a Heroku app including a domain name purchase and redirecting the DNS.
    • You don’t need to remember to restart for config changes – it does it automatically
    • You don’t need to remember to migrate (you get a nice big message about outstanding migrations)
    • You can get to your application from any machine, which means you don't have to lug your laptop home every night.
    • You can have more than one person working on the app without any special server set up.
    • You don’t have to leave the browser at all - no browser/textmate/MySQL Query Browser switching.
    • Allows you to push your Ruby webapp via git and it supports a lot the Ruby gems."
  3. Check out a review from Eric Kidd over on www.randomhacks.net. His article covers Herko's "Celdon Cedar" update. We've covered this topic before, but Eric brings some hands on experience that is quite refreshing. Also, unlike most reviews of Heroku online he hasn't drank the kool-aid and is honest about the services shortcomings. Give his article a read.
  4. Ben Scoffield provides a great getting started article that also details some of the constraints and shortcomings of the Heroku service. Give his article a read to see just how easy it is to launch a Rails app with their service.
  5. Heroku hosting review comments:

    1. Michael Hendrickx sings Heroku's praises over on this review when he says,

      I’ve been using Herkou for some time now and I think its an excellent platform. Hats off to Adam et al for a great service – I really hope it succeeds as a business.

      For a beta I the platform is amazingly stable and the Heroku team are incredibly responsive to emails on issues of significance. On small scale projects and especially for Rails newbies Heroku has several significant attractions over standard Rails development…

      • "Zero Setup. You really can get straight into coding with Heroku."
      • "You don’t need to remember to restart for config changes – it does it automatically (I love that)"
      • "You don’t need to remember to migrate (you get a nice big message about outstanding migrations)"
      • "I can get to my app from any machine – saves having to carry the laptop home."
      • "This maybe fraught with risk but you can have more than one person working on the app without any special server set up."
      • "I don’t have to leave the browser at all none of this browser/textmate/MySQL Query Browser switching."
      • "Their snapshot facility is really cool too."

      For a small scale app or prototyping I really think Heroku beats doing it locally. Navigating larger apps could soon get difficult to with the current editor but I’m sure they’re working on this. You’d be surprised how much essential functionality is already there – try command ] for example. No ideas of cost of full fledged apps but they are planning on keeping a free option. The main limitation is no outgoing connections (including email).

    2. Brian Collins comments on Heroku saying, "Rails apps have, up until recently, required a lot more flexibility in the hosting environment. It used to be that you would practically need root access in order to get set up and running hosting Rails. Things like Phusion Passenger and rvm now allow you to host a Rails app in a shared environment (such as what GoDaddy would provide) much like with how you would deploy a PHP app, but deploying new versions and installing gems is always going to be a hassle. The difference with Heroku is that it is fully integrated with version control. In the past "deployment" would mean FTPing your PHP files up to your web host, but that is stupid and has major problems. Deploying a specific git tree is clean and avoids all these issues. So with Heroku, you just git push to deploy and you can be certain the working directory you have locally will be the same as the one on the host. Heroku offers a selection of moderately overpriced upsells which allow you to add extra "dynos" (workers which respond to web requests concurrently), and you can also plug in features that would normally require shell access such as cron jobs. Heroku is great value (free) if you are just getting started but it quickly gets expensive, at which point it is cheaper to start looking at setting up a VPS or dedicated server yourself."

    Heroku hosting review from Twitter

    1. @obie says, "Oh man, the performance difference with a dedicated DB on Heroku is amazing... #droool"
    2. @voidet says, "Starting to see why people rave about Heroku."
    3. @micah says, "having some real customer service issues with @heroku anybody have a connect? (please don't sell me on something else)"
    4. @ainakatani? says, "Switched my Rails app server to Heroku. Sooooo much better than Hostmonster. Github and Heroku are making my life so much easier"
    5. @pk2004 says, " Deployed first Rails app to Heroku today, very impressed with the simplicity of the deployment process."
    6. @superhighfives says, "Really enjoying dev and deployment with Heroku and Sinatra. Very rad. #Ruby win."
    7. @luca_tironi says, "@heroku is awesome! Their addons + Rails 3 + ActiveAdmin + AWS S3 + some hours and I have a simple api for my app working in the cloud"