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Deploying your first Micronaut application to Heroku

Dylan Maccora
Originally published at maccoda.github.io ・5 min read

Micronaut is a great JVM framework I was recently introduced to. It has been designed with the intention to fit into the modern day micro-service and serverless architecture with its big selling point being compile time dependency injection. If you have ever used something like Spring Boot you will know what a difference this will make to start up times. However this post is about deploying these apps to Heroku. Once I have had some more experience in the framework I will write another post about making an application with it. In lieu of that, I would really recommend giving it a try and reach out if you have any blockers.

For this post I am assuming you are familiar with Heroku as I won't go in depth about setting it up. However that is the beauty of this service is they make it really simple to get started which is great for hobby projects.

Creating the Application

Creating the app is very simple as with many frameworks. Micronaut provide a CLI tool and a guide for creating your first application using this. Again I won't go more in depth into this but it is very important to follow this guide otherwise your experience may differ and likely be more difficult.

The important part of using the CLI tool is that is generates the base project and along with that is provides the Dockerfile that can be used to build a deployed image. It is a very simple Dockerfile but just highlights the focus on simplicity in the modern environments provided by Micronaut.

First Attempt to deploy to Heroku

My first attempt as the naming of this sections forebodes was not all that successful and led to a few weird issues. Let's start at the beginning.

Choosing Heroku as the service to manage my deployments was primarily driven by simplicity. To deploy my first app was as simple as git push heroku master (after some minimal set up of course). This application should be no different I thought, it is a Gradle application and Heroku natively supports with this a Gradle build pack. Unfortunately not quite so, they know how to support Spring applications but if none is detected you are in charge of telling the build pack how to build your application. Which is a good choice and again is made simple by enforcing a convention.

If Heroku does not how to build your application you define a stage Gradle task

Of course I am not the first person to deploy a non-Spring application to Heroku so there is a simple guide. For a Micronaut application the only required part however is defining the stage task and its dependencies.

task stage(dependsOn: ['build', 'clean'])
build.mustRunAfter clean

That was pretty simple!

Now if you were anything like me and just want to get your application out there you would try to deploy this shortly after. In doing this I started to find where most of my issues lay. After the deployment I attempted to check the health endpoint and was receiving a fat nothing, my first thoughts were, 'Does it know how to run my application?'

Defining the Procfile

For those unfamiliar with Heroku, they have a notion of a Procfile which defines which commands to run to start your application(s). Akin to that you would write for a build pipeline.

First thing I thought here is I know I was able to run my application through Gradle using the run command so let's first try that.

web: ./gradlew run

Immediately I deployed again and tested the health endpoint. Same result...

Finding the Error

It turned out the error was staring me in the face the whole time in the deployment logs that I clearly do not pay the required attention to. When you perform the git deployment you don't actually get all the logs of the container you will need to use heroku logs --tail to get these, and they are incredibly useful!

Littered throughout the logs I had occurrences of Error R14 (Memory quota exceeded). Not only that, it did not only appear during the execution of the application but actually when trying to build the application!

Now of course I could purchase the plan providing me with more memory but this was a hobby project. Further that is almost always the cheat's way out as there is probably something better you can do before just upping allocated resources.

The reason for this issue I can only assume is because of the manner in which Micronaut builds your application. A lot of the heavy lifting is done during compile time giving you super fast start up times. However I was now pushing all this load onto the Heroku containers for which I had limited resources for.

Getting the Application Deployed

After realising I would need to perform the staging on my local machine I started looking at different methods of deploying to Heroku. As it turns out they provide you access to a container registry for which you can push images and then release them for your application.

The process to deploy a container is as follows:

  1. Define your deployable image
  2. Build the artifacts needed for the image and consequently build the deployable image
  3. Push the deployable image to the registry
  4. Release the image to the deployed environment

This process is made extremely simple by Micronaut and Heroku! I was able to script it in 3 lines!

./gradlew stage
heroku container:push web
heroku container:release web

These define the last 3 steps of the process above but where is our image definition? It is the Dockerfile that Micronaut generated for us on the first build!

FROM openjdk:8u171-alpine3.7
RUN apk --no-cache add curl
COPY build/libs/*-all.jar myapp-kt.jar
CMD java ${JAVA_OPTS} -jar myapp-kt.jar

All this Dockerfile does is simply copy the built artifact from the stage task (which is combined into a single JAR ending in -all).

Finally we just need to update the Procfile as we do not need to build anything anymore, but rather just need to simply execute the JAR. Of course be aware there is a version appended.

web: java -jar build/libs/myapp-kt-0.1-all.jar

Once you have updated the Procfile, deploy to Heroku again and you should find your application up and running!

Summary

To recap what we managed to achieve. We built our Micronaut application following the provided guide. Then utilizing what was provided from the template built a deployable Docker image which could then deploy to Heroku!

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