Node.js Feedback

The response to yesterday’s Node.js announcement continues to be absolutely amazing.

First and foremost, we’re thrilled to see the community share our excitement about Node.js and its potential on the Heroku platform.

We do, however, also want to be mindful that we’re still in the experimental phase with this technology here. For this reason, we’re going to proceed carefully and invite testers in small batches.

So, if you don’t hear from us right away, despair not. It’ll likely take us a few weeks to get through the current list, and if you’re reading this for the first time, please don’t hesitate to register your interest at nodejs@heroku.com.

Experimental Node.js Support

UPDATE: Node.JS is now officially available on Heroku.

Today we’re offering experimental support for node.js to a limited set of users. We know there is a lot of demand, and will work with as many users as we can. See below for details.

A natural complement to Ruby

Yesterday we posted about how we think about the platform and make roadmap decisions. We are always looking for the next set of use cases to support, and lately we’ve been thinking about realtime apps and event-driven architectures.

Today, most Ruby apps are synchronous. By default, all I/O blocks. If you’re uploading a file, polling a service, or waiting on data, your app will be blocked. While it’s possible to fix this by meticulously eliminating all blocking I/O from your code and dependencies, and using a library such as EventMachine, it’s tedious and as Adam points out: “Libraries like eventmachine will never be truly intuitive to use, because event-driven I/O is enough of a fundamental shift that it requires deep language integration. JavaScript, it turns out, is a fundamentally event-driven language because of its origins in the browser”

Node.js is evented I/O for JavaScript, built on top of the blazingly fast V8 engine. It makes handling event-driven I/O incredibly simple, and aligns perfectly with our maniacal focus on simplicity and developer productivity. The Ruby community has quickly adopted node, and with great reason. Complimenting existing apps with node.js for components that require real-time event handling or massive concurrency is both easy and elegant – in part thanks to the availability of frameworks such as express.

Simple to use

Node fits well into our existing architecture. It’s just another runtime selectable as part of our stacks:

Open Questions

Supporting node opens many questions on the platform: how are we going to charge, what version will we support, how can I integrate it with my current apps? We’re releasing this in experimental state now to collaborate with the Node.js and Ruby communities on this. Over the next months we will work together to provide answers to all these questions and more.

How to Participate

If you want to participate and use node on an experimental basis, drop an email to nodejs@heroku.com with your email address, what you want to use Node for, and we’ll work to include you in the program.

Update & Roadmap

It’s been a great first quarter for us, and it’s time for a brief update on where we are and where we’re headed.

Growth

Heroku’s growth has continued to be huge. 1,500 new apps were deployed to Heroku last week alone, and that number increases every week. Next week we will cross the 60,000 application mark.

As you can imagine, traffic is growing even more quickly, serving billions of requests per month. In fact, traffic has grown by 4x over the last four months:

Many are finding great value in the platform and paying for features and scale. Our customer count and revenue have similar growth curves.

Roadmap

Where is Heroku’s platform going next? How can you plan for our next releases or influence our direction? When we launch new features, what’s the best way to think about how they fit into our overall strategy?

Here’s how we think about our roadmap and decide on big new areas to work on: it’s all about use cases.

We started with the simplest use case: making it drop-dead easy for developers to deploy applications, and have grown into more complex ones (like multi-tier complex composite apps). We continue to try and expand the number of use cases that we provide a complete solution for.

Here’s a brief look at our historical roadmap from the perspective of expanding use cases:

Provisionless Deployment. Instant deployment with the now famous “git push heroku master” is at the heart of Heroku, enabling the basic use case: a frictionless application platform that just works.

Caching and Instant Scaling. We introduced high-speed HTTP caching built into every app, and added dynos which can be scaled up and down instantly, enabling large scale and variable scale apps.

Asynchronous Patterns. We added background processing with Delayed::Job, followed shortly by workers which can be scaled up and down just like dynos, enabling many use cases around modern asynchronous architecture.

Platform Extensibility. We launched the Add-ons system, a way to extend Heroku apps with core functionality like full-text search or memcache, and to consume external services like New Relic, Zerigo, or Sendgrid. Use cases here are literally endless. Add-ons allow the growing ecosystem of startups and established companies building cloud services to add new features to our platform – many more than we could do on our own.

Flexible Runtime. We recently introduced deployment stacks, which enable choice between multiple runtime environments.

What’s Next?

Over the next days, weeks, and months, we will release new features that continue to expand the number of use cases supported by Heroku, whether for startups or large enterprises.

You can be sure that each time we build a feature we will be maniacally focused on simplicity and developer productivity, and will always try to maintain the cohesiveness and quality of the platform.

From our core focus on developer productivity and frictionless deployment, we’ll be expanding the footprint to include areas like realtime and event-driven apps, more complex multi-tier applications, and a broader platform for deploying advanced applications. Stay tuned, and let us know where you’d like to see us go.

Supporting Large Data: Part 1

As apps have matured on Heroku, data sets have gotten much larger. Taps is designed to help development by providing a fast and easy way to transfer databases between local environments and Heroku. Today we launched taps 0.3 with a reworked architecture and a new set of features focused on large data sets:

  1. Push/Pull Specific Tables
    You can now choose which tables to push and pull. Specify a regex and taps will only push or pull the tables that match. To only pull specific tables, specify a comma delimited list. For example, to pull the logs and tags tables, run this command:
    heroku db:pull --tables logs,tags
  2. Resume Transfers
    Interruptions can happen when moving large datasets. Now when you interrupt (Ctrl-C) or an error occurs, taps will dump a session file that can be used to resume the transfer:
    heroku db:pull --resume-filename session_file.dat
  3. More Robust Schema Translation
    DB operations are now 100% powered by Sequel, making taps capable of handling more varied data and schemas.

  4. Improved Transfer Speed
    Taps now uses primary keys to move large data sets with constant transfer speed regardless of table size. Taps will fall back to ‘paging’ the data (OFFSET + LIMIT) if no primary key is available.

Run “sudo gem update heroku taps” to get the new version.

SSL Hostname Add-on Public Beta

Ever since we launched the current IP-based solution at $100/month in response to customer demand, we have been pursuing a cheaper and more elegant solution for SSL with custom certificates on Heroku.

Today, we’re happy to announce the public beta of a new SSL add-on that accomplishes this goal. It’s called ssl:hostname, and is priced at $20/month. This new add-on will allow you enable SSL traffic to your application on any subdomain, such as www.mydomain.com or secure.mydomain.com, using your own SSL certificate. Note that this is a paid beta, and you will be charged for using the add-on through the beta period.

Full docs are available here. You can install it via the heroku gem, or directly from the Add-ons Catalog.

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