Deploying an app from Gitlab to Heroku using the Quasar framework and Sailsjs

navicsteinr profile image Navicstein Rotciv ・6 min read

In this tutorial I'm quickly going to give you an idea on how to deploy an application from heroku to Gitlab using auto CI/CD

This tutorial assumes that you must have known a little bit of Quasar framework and JavaScript it also assumes that you have basic understanding of Node itself and Auto DevOps.

In this example will be using Sailsjs and Quasar framework so make sure you have those dependencies installed globally.

Getting things ready

$ npm i -g sails @quasar/cli

now that you have those dependency installed all you had to do is make a directory demoapp as a directory name [you can change the name to your taste]

$ mkdir demoapp && cd demoapp 

Now create the client folder using quasar

$ quasar create client

Quasar will ask you some questions about your application, make sure you answer them to your projects requirements, it also needs to download a starter kit so make sure you have an active internet connection

After creating the client folder now create the server folder, you can open a new terminal tab to speed up the development process while installing dependencies for each.

$ sails new app --no-frontend

you should see something like this on your terminal

➜  demoapp sails new server --no-frontend
 info: Installing dependencies...
Press CTRL+C to cancel.
(to skip this step in the future, use --fast)

This creates a new sails app without a frontend this comes handy when you want to generate a server only based application without worrying about the views since the views we are going to be replaced with quasar-framework distribution files.

your root folder should look something like this

├── client
│   ├── babel.config.js
│   ├── node_modules
│   ├── package.json
│   ├── package-lock.json
│   ├── quasar.conf.js
│   ├── README.md
│   └── src
├── package.json
└── server
    ├── api
    ├── app.js
    ├── config
    ├── node_modules
    ├── package.json
    ├── package-lock.json
    └── README.md

Now initialize git int the root project of your application

$ git init

Make sure to add your gitlab origin to your app folder

$ git remote add origin YOUR_APP_NAME

Setting up sails to load quasar dist file pragmatically

Naturally sails is meant to load files found in the assets folder, but we want our files to be in the views directory
So we will create a directory called views

from the root directory run:

$ mkdir ./server/views

Now create a config file telling sails where our built files from quasar will be or live

$ code ./server/config/paths.js

This will open VSCODE editor and create an empty file.
inside the paths.js file, place this code there:

module.exports.paths = {
    public: "views"

Now when you lift sails, it will load up any index.html found in the views folder.

Adding a buildscript

There are many ways to archive this but i prefer to use a simple bash script to install, build and copy the files to their respective folder.

Here's the install.sh script

echo  ' - Alright, here we go. trigerring auto deploy .. ..'  &&  echo

installDependencies() {
    echo  " Installing global dependencies.."  &&       echo
    npm i -g @quasar/cli sails

setupServer() {
    echo  " Installing server dependencies .. .."
    cd ./server
    npm install
    cd ..

setupClient() {
    echo  " Installing application dependencies .. .."  &&  echo
    cd ./client
    npm install
    quasar build -m spa
    cd ..

copy() {
    echo  " Copying assets to server"  &&  echo
    mkdir -p ./server/views
    cp -R ./client/dist/spa/* ./server/views

installDependencies && setupServer && setupClient && copy

What the script really does

  • Installs the global dependencies
  • Uses the dependencies to build their project files
  • Copies the built files to where the server will pick and load them up for public access.

Setting up heroku

First thing to do is to make sure that heroku toolbelt is installed on your machine

$ npm i -g heroku

Create an Heroku's account or login using your terminal

$ heroku login

Follow the prompt and login. After a successful login, create a project

$  heroku apps:create demoapp-ci

You can use the main heroku site for this but to be faster i used heroku CLI toolbelt,

Naturally heroku, prunes the devDependencies after installing dependencies

so to make sure that your devDependencies are still there after installing your projects dependencies


where YOUR_APP_NAME is your projects application name on heroku.

Heroku looks for a start script in your package.json file and attempts to run it with npm start so create or initialize npm to create the file.

From the root folder of your project run:

$ npm init --yes

The above command creates a dummy package.json in the root folder of your app. Open the package.json file and add two commands in the script section

  • posintall - runs before heroku starts your application, this is where we'll be calling the install.sh script which will run and install our projects dependencies.

  • start - this is the main entry point of our server entry file.
    Actually what we'll be doing in the start section is to cd into the server folder and run the start script there too

so your package.json file should look like this:

    "name": "demoapp",
    "version": "1.0.0",
    "description": "",
    "main": "index.js",
    "scripts": {
        "postinstall": "bash install.sh",
        "start": "cd ./server && npm run start",
        "test": "echo \"Error: no test specified\"      && exit 1"

    "keywords": [],
    "author": "",
    "license": "ISC"

Setting up Gitlab

Now that everything is setup, we would probably be setting up Gitlab, if you don't have an account try creating one or if you already have, login into your account and create a project, we'll be using demoapp as the name of the project.

Now add the newly created application to your local git, i used the SSH strategy in this case, you can opt-in for HTTPS

$ git remote add origin git@gitlab.com:YOUR_USERNAME/demoapp.git

replace YOUR_USERNAME with your gitlab username, don't yet push now until we'v setup everything.

Getting your HEROKU_API_KEY

This where Gitlab gets to talk to Heroku servers about your application once a code is pushed.

Goto your heroku's dashboard
under the API Key section click on reveal to show your API key, it should look like this c488826c-e081-4434-a27f-45133f93c389

Now goto back to gitlab, click on the navigation menu on the left side of your browser and goto setting > CI/CD

or copy this link and replace demoapp with your gitlabs project name

under the Variables section toggle the expand button
create a key as: HEROKU_API_KEY and copy the API Key from heroku into the value box then click Save ariables

Setting up CI/CD

As described by GitLab Pages documentation, everything happens with a .gitlab-ci.yml file placed in the root of your repository. This working example will get you started:
Paste this code in the root of your folder

image: node:12.13.0

    - production

        - node_modules/

    type: deploy
    stage: production
    image: ruby:latest

    - apt-get update -qy
    - apt-get install -y ruby-dev
    - gem install dpl
    - dpl --provider=heroku --app=demoapp-ci --api-key=$HEROKU_API_KEY

    - master

In the script part of the yml file
- dpl --provider=heroku --app=demoapp-ci
replace demoapp-ci with the application name you created on heroku

Going live

If you come this far without any troubles, then congrats you're ready to push your code, but before that make sure you follow sails guidelines for deploying your application sails guidelines for deploying your application

$ git add . 
$ git commit -am  "Going live" 

Pushing will

  • trigger the CI and run the jobs
  • upload artifacts to heroku
  • heroku in turn will run the postinstall script before attempting to run the start script
  • finally, heroku will lift your app located at ./server/app.js This will push and trigger gitlabs servers to run the .gitlab-ci.yml in your folder once the build succeeds

open your application and see your app go life, feel free to contact me or follow me on twitter when you run into issues, i'll be happy to talk with you about your project or issues you encounter.


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