Heroku it is

With Domain Pigeon progressing nicely, its time to start learning how to deploy it. While it won’t be ready for several weeks, part of it will be integrated with Paypal so its essential that I have plenty of time to develop and test that portion of it.

Most of my inital hosting research was from a three month old post on HackerNews regarding the best way to work on a Ruby on Rails app. Now I have to admit this is kind of stupid in retrospect… but I didn’t realize I could build and run a Rails app locally; I thought it had to be hosted somewhere. I quickly found out about InstantRails, which I’ve been using since then to experiment and do work. Now that it’s time to actually launch an app, I’m back where I started, looking for a good host.

The responses on that thread pointed to Slicehost, Heroku, Dreamhost, HostingRails, and a few others. I briefly considered learning how to be a system administrator so that I could configure and maintain my own slice at Slicehost, but after doing a little research I realize I have no idea what I’m doing and I’m better off finding a managed solution. Dreamhost seems to have a pretty good reputation, though their lack of focus on Rails turned me off it. HostingRails and Heroku both focused on Rails applications, which I like, so it was mainly a chioce between the two.

HostingRails seemed like a decent option. The reviews were generally favorable and most of the negative comments about downtime were from the 2006 period. The site was pretty well done, though some of the tutorials could have used a bit of work. I could even pay them a one-time sum of $79 and they would set up and configure my app to run on their servers. Or, if I wanted, I could use their tutorials to do it on my own. I looked through them and they seemed reasonable enough. One bad thing is that they require a year’s payment up front, which seems like a +EV move for the makers of a crappy product.

On to Heroku… I had been to Heroku several months back when this all started and when I came back yesterday to check it out I saw that everything was basically the same. That mistakenly led me to believe that the site wasn’t still being updated and for whatever reason was inactive. I later found out that that’s not the case. The site is very much active and the founders apparently are very helpful for whatever issues come up. I also thought that they posted a banner at the top of each site, but again, that was bad information; the banner is for the developer to access the control panel. It can be turned off as required.

I asked HN, which hasn’t disappointed yet, and surely enough they came back with clarifications and help on the issues I had with Heroku. This pretty much sums up their responses:

My experiences with heroku has been very positive so far: The online IDE and tools are very robust and they’ve been responsive to me when I needed to ask questions.

I don’t think you’ll be disappointed

And so, as the title suggestions, I’m going to use Heroku to host Domain Pigeon. I really have no idea what I’m getting into, but the site looks perfect for my skill level and site requirements.

Tomorrow, time permitting, I’m going to try to launch a test application so I can familiarize myself with the site.

On a somewhat unrelated note, I downloaded TextMate, the Ruby on Rails TextMate bundle, and watched a Peepcode screencast on how to use them. Kind of like that Macbook, I don’t know how I ever went without it.

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