How SpaceGlasses Builds the Future with Heroku

Editor's note: This is a guest post from Michael Buckbee of Meta/SpaceGlasses.

SpaceGlasses are augmented reality glasses that actually work. They let people control systems with a gesture, see virtual objects on top of the real world and create technology that would make Tony Stark proud.

Prior to joining Meta, I had developed and managed a number of high traffic Rails sites. I was brought on to help move the company’s website from a single static launch page to being an e-commerce platform and to help lay the groundwork for the company’s app store.

We chose to build on top of Heroku as we are moving very quickly, need to have a lots of flexibility and don’t have the time or budget to provision our own infrastructure from scratch.

As the site’s traffic has rapidly grown from tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of visitors a day being on Heroku has only made more sense.

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Introducing Postgres 9.3

As of today PostgreSQL 9.3 is available on Heroku Postgres as a public beta. This new version of Postgres brings you even more useful features so you can be as powerful as ever. Whether its richer JSON functionality, materialized views, or richer join support in lateral joins this version has a little something for everyone.

Provision your Postgres 9.3 database by running heroku addons:add heroku-postgresql:crane --version=9.3 and get started working with it today, or check out some of our favorite features included in this new version below.

Foreign Tables

Foreign data wrappers (FDWs), which allow you to query from within Postgres to an external datasource, have been available for a couple of releases. Now Postgres ships with a built-in Postgres FDW as an extension. With the Postgres FDW aggregating and reporting against your data from disparate Heroku Postgres databases is as simple as CREATE EXTENSION postgres_fdw, followed by setting up your foreign tables.

Beyond the built in Postgres FDW available to all Heroku Postgres 9.3 users today, the API for foreign data wrappers now supports them writing as well as reading data. This lays the groundwork for more powerful wrappers to be built which in the future will enable Postgres to be a fully federated database.

We’ve already begun taking advantage of foreign data wrappers internally at Heroku for reporting and look forward to hearing how you take advantage of them yourselves.

A more powerful JSON

With version 9.2 we saw PostgreSQL get support for JSON starting on its path of bridging the gap between the dynamics of schemaless databases and the robustness of the traditional relational world. This support got even richer by our addition of full Javascript support with the V8 engine inside Postgres. It continues to get even better today with more built in functions and operators to make working with your JSON data even easier.

Materialized Views

For many applications, pre-computing expensive queries can be a great way to improve overall performance. Materialized views do just this by caching the results of a view and then allowing you to periodically refresh those results.

This can be tremendously useful, and the in-progress Postgres 9.4 development already has some exciting improvements.

And more

There are a number of less prominent additions and fixes, ranging from performance improvements, to more flexible DDL commands (e.g., CREATE SCHEMA ... IF NOT EXISTS), to event triggers for better tooling hooks. There have been over 1700 commits since 9.3 development started in earnest here:

commit bed88fceac04042f0105eb22a018a4f91d64400d
Author: Tom Lane <tgl@sss.pgh.pa.us>
Date:   Wed Jun 13 20:03:02 2012 -0400

    Stamp HEAD as 9.3devel.

    Let the hacking begin ...

You can read further on whats new over at the PostgreSQL wiki.

Beta status

As Postgres moves from 9.3 beta releases to a 9.3.0 GA release, we are moving out support for this version from alpha to beta. As it is still a beta product, it comes with several conditions:

  • Existing 9.3 beta databases must be upgraded to 9.3.0 via pgbackups. Followers and forks of 9.3 beta are no longer supported.
  • Heroku Postgres uptimes are expected uptime guidelines and not a guarantee or SLA for uptime of your production database. As with many alpha or beta features the expected uptime is lower for Postgres 9.3.
  • Forks, followers, and other functionality may see a higher level of issues during the beta. Please let us know about any problems you run into.

Conclusion

Postgres 9.3 continues the tradition of adding great features, performance improvements, and maintaining a serious concern for data integrity. Get started by provisioning your Postgres 9.3 database:

$ heroku addons:add heroku-postgresql:crane --version 9.3

Since this is a beta offering, we are especially interested in hearing your feedback. Please let us know what you think and how you're using it by contacting us at postgres@heroku.com.

How Travis CI Uses Heroku to Scale Their Platform

Editor's note: This is a guest post from Mathias Meyer of Travis CI.

Travis CI is a continuous integration and deployment platform. It started out as a project to offer a free platform for the open source community to run their tests and builds on.

Over the past two years, Travis CI has grown, a lot. What started out with a single server running just a few hundred tests a day turned into a platform used by thousands of open source projects and hundreds of companies for their public and private projects. Travis CI is currently serving more than 62,000 active open source projects, with 32,000 daily builds, and 3,000 private projects with 11,000 daily builds.

Heroku is an important part of how we’ve scaled our platform, and this is the story of how we did it.

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Heroku Postgres at Postgres Open and PostgreSQL Conf EU

The Heroku Postgres team is hitting the road in coming months and we’d love to connect with you. If you’d like to meet up with us at any of the events below, drop us a line or Tweet us @HerokuPostgres.

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Win a ticket to Postgres Open and visit us there

The Heroku Postgres team is hitting the road in coming months and we'd love to connect with you. If you'd like to connnect with us at any of the events below drop us a line postgres@heroku.com or @HerokuPostgres

Postgres Open

The first opportunity to connect with us is in September at Postgres Open. If you've already got your tickets for Postgres Open join us for drinks and/or pizza at Clark Ale House on Tuesday September 17, and make sure to check out talks by me and Peter Geoghegan at the conference.

If you don't already have your ticket for Postgres Open but are interested in going, we've got a chance for you to win a ticket from us for free.

Win a ticket to Postgres Open

We're giving away 3 tickets to PG Open. For your chance to win a ticket we want to see the creative ways you're using dataclips with your Heroku Postgres database. Submissions can be a really impressive query or a great integration, the key to either is that it should be empowering you to better run your business with this data.

To enter 1. create your dataclip or integration then 2. submit the following to postgres@heroku.com:

  1. Your name
  2. Your role
  3. Your organization and what the company does
  4. A link to the dataclip or to the integration that you've built.

We will be announcing winners on August 29, 2013. The winners will be chosen at the sole discretion of the Heroku Postgres team.

PostgreSQL Conf EU

Those of you in Europe will have an opportunity to connect with the team as well. A large part of the team will be at PG Conf EU, including talks by 4 of our team members:

Conclusion

If you're going to be at either of the above conferences we'd love to talk to you. However, you don't have to wait until these conferences, if you ever have operational issues with you database you can find help at help.heroku.com or for product related questions and feedback you can contact us at postgres@heroku.com

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