Add-ons Launch

Heroku has focused since day one on making the end-to-end application experience as easy as possible. From our git focused workflow to the automated management of deployed applications, we’ve worked hard to give developers the flexibility to build amazing apps. Today we’re excited to announce a major extension of this flexibility with Add-ons.

For those who just want to see it in action, here’s a 3 minute overview:

Add-ons

Add-ons are a way to extend your application. They can provide core functionality (like full-text search or cron), add features to the platform (like deploy hooks or backup bundles), and integrate with amazing third party services (like Zerigo, Sendgrid, or New Relic).

Detailed information for the initially available add-ons is available at addons.heroku.com.

Add-on Catalog

All available add-ons can be viewed in the add-on catalog. We have a combination of Heroku developed and 3rd party add-ons that cover a wide range of needs, and more coming all the time. You’ll also see some marked “beta” (open to anyone but not yet 100% production), some marked “private beta” (by request only – contact us at beta@heroku.com if you want to be considered for inclusion), and finally some marked “soon” (a sneak peak of some upcoming add-ons). We promise, this is just a glimpse of many many more to come.

Adding an Add-on

Adding an add-on is incredibly easy. You have the choice to either use our command line interface or the catalog. Simply click the add button, choose which app you want to add to, and you’re done.

You will see the add-on being installed into your app in real time.

Managing Add-ons

All of an app’s add-ons can now be managed in one place – the add-on menu shown above. From the My Apps section, choose an app and then click the “Add-ons” button in the upper right corner.

Select an add-on from the menu to view its interface, manage its configuration, or remove it.

Lots more add-ons to come – stay tuned!

Official press release can be found here.

Heroku Directions

It’s great to be a part of Heroku and to get the welcome from James and team as well as from the various customers, partners, and developers I’ve spoken with over the past few weeks. Heroku, the Ruby community at large, and the “cloud” market in general are growing and evolving quickly. As you can tell, we have a lot of exciting applications being deployed on our platform and are constantly working to improve and expand our offerings. I wanted to use my first blog post with the company to talk specifically about areas where we are going to be super focused over the coming months:

1) Making Heroku’s growing ecosystem work for you.

We’ve seen great traction with partners (formal and informal) who’ve built various extensions or additions to our platform, and we’ve also seen a surprising amount of our business come from consultancies who are doing application development for their customers and are recommending Heroku as the deployment platform as choice. We’re going to make it easier for our customers, prospects, and users to take advantage of our partner’s offerings, and to enable our partners to more easily grow their own businesses by working with Heroku. We’ll have some announcements on this front coming over the next weeks and months.

2) Continue strengthening Heroku’s position as both the most productive platform to run your Ruby applications and the most trusted, reliable, and operationally transparent service.

Some of the world’s largest companies trust us with their applications, and some of the most exciting and fastest growing sites do so as well – we have numerous customer applications serving hundreds of millions of pages a month on Heroku. We are continuing to invest substantially in our own operational infrastructure as well as our support processes, tools, and services that we provide to customers. As our platform continues its tremendous growth we will continue to deliver and improve upon (there’s always room for improvement) our stability and reliability.

Transparency is one area that we’ve specifically looked to make improvements, and I’m happy to say that we recently launched status.heroku.com to make it easy and simple for you to check on the status of our service, and to see in the cases where there was an issue how we deal with it and what the impact is. I’m also very gratified that we have a very robust beta process thanks to an energetic group of customers investing their time and energy using beta features and giving us great, concrete feedback.

3) Expanding the number of applications and scenarios where you can see real business value in building and running your application on Heroku.

We see customers using us not just for easy and rapid deployment, but more importantly for the efficiency and smoothness of ongoing operation of their applications. We hear more and more that customers are saving not just time, but real, hard dollars due to the automation and efficiencies in our platform. There is a lot more we can do here, and some of them are super secret, while still more are just gleams in Adam, Orion, and James’s eyes right now (you can only imagine…).

A couple of important platform features that you’ll be seeing shortly are fully production-ready and cloud-aware application monitoring and memcached services. These have both been used extensively through our beta process. We can’t wait to get them out to you, and to continue regularly adding to the portfolio of services you have to choose from as you deploy on Heroku.

Finally, as this is my first post at Heroku, I want to thank our customers, users, and evangelists for your enthusiasm, your feedback, and your business; I hope you won’t hesitate to contact me or us when you have questions, feedback, or yes, even gripes. My email is byron at heroku dot com, and our contact page gives you easy places to get in touch.

Heroku Casts: Maintenance Mode

Today we’re launching an exciting new feature – maintenance mode.

We strive to make your deployment and management experience as seamless as possible, for both the developers and the end users. Part of any management task is performing routine maintenance tasks, from database migrations to more complex site upgrades. When you’re in the midst of doing these maintenance tasks, wouldn’t it be great to show your users a nice maintenance page, instead of a broken site? With the Heroku maintenance mode, now you can.

This quick 3:30 video shows you how to use maintenance mode, and even how to customize it for your own look and feel:

Announcing Huge Growth and New CEO

Big things are happening at Heroku, so we felt it was time for an overall update. I’m happy to say that not only has the platform doubled in size over the last 12 months to well over 35,000 live apps, but usage has become more serious and far more intense. Tons of business-critical apps are now live on Heroku, and rely on us for dependable, secure, scalable service, 24/7.

We are seeing some really cool and complex composite apps now that the platform has expanded and become more flexible. The app scale we’re seeing has jumped too, with many apps now each individually exceeding hundreds of millions of requests per month.

All of this is largely due to our passionate users and supporters who beta test our platform, contribute great content to the community, and evangelize us in blogs and tweets. Huge thanks to all of you!

The team has been plenty busy scaling the platform and building more new features than ever. But with all this growth, I’ve had less and less time for my personal contribution: driving the whole team crazy with my insane hairsplitting perfectionism.

Adam, Orion, and I agreed that with all this great stuff happening we needed to expand the team, so today we’re pleased to announce that Byron Sebastian has joined us as CEO. Don’t be fooled by Byron’s extensive experience building commercial platforms (Amazon.com, Crossgain, BEA, SourceLabs, EMC); he’s a passionate engineer at heart.

Byron is a great fit with the unique culture of the Ruby community and the Heroku team, and brings a ton of great experience into the company. We’re thrilled for him to help us take Heroku to the next level.

With Byron onboard, Adam, Orion, and I will be able to spend even more time on the product. For me especially, this means I’ll be able to let my OCD run amuck and focus even more maniacally on Heroku’s trademark smooth user experience (I can see the team groaning and rolling their eyes as I type this).

We’ve been working hard on some awesome new additions to the platform we’ll be rolling out over the coming weeks. Exciting times ahead – stay tuned!

Official press releases are available here and here.

Heroku Casts: Setting Up Custom Domains

Today is a twofer on the screencast front.

Setting up custom domains & DNS is one of those necessary evils that no one likes, and is way more confusing than it should be. Adding insult to injury, there’s not one solution for all cases. At a high level, the process is fairly easy. First, you need to point your domain to Heroku with your DNS provider (such as GoDaddy). Once your domain is pointed to Heroku, you then need to tell Heroku so we can start serving traffic to your domain.

DNS is the means by which computers translate what you type in pretty human language (e.g. heroku.com) into computer terms (75.101.163.44). To figure out how to configure DNS & Heroku, you first need to ask yourself – Do I want email (support@mydomain.com) or not? No email is easier to manage in the long run, though neither is hard.

Setting up Custom Domains without email

This is the easiest configuration. It uses something called “CNAMES” in DNS, which are just aliases. This means you are telling DNS to just ask us, Heroku, what the right IP address is. If we ever change the DNS settings, your domain is automatically updated. On the downside, using this arrangement means that you can’t get email. It’s a long and geeky discussion on why – if you’re interested in a blog post or screencast on the details, let me know in the comments!

Seting up Custom Domains WITH email

Screencast #2 shows you how to use A records for the root domain, and setup your MX records (Mail eXchange, which tell mail clients where to send email) so that you can use custom domains and email.

Other screencasts you want to see? Let me know in the comments.

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