Introducing the DigitalOcean App Platform
Written by Nikos Vaggalis   
Thursday, 22 October 2020

With DigitalOcean's new App Platform, setting up and deploying an app to the cloud as easy as point and click.


Built on Kubernetes, DigitalOcean's new offering the App Platform, shifts the focus from handling the Infrastructure to just handling your application's development. It does that by taking care of all the backend setup like servers and databases, operating systems and application runtimes, allowing developers to deploy their code on the cloud by hooking up a GitHub repository hosting the code.

In designing the App platform, DigitalOcean analyzed all the pain points users encounter while building apps, and identified the tasks that should be abstracted away.Zero-downtime deployment was one of them, therefore the platform's Autodeploy option facilitates automatic deployment whenever a commit is pushed to the connected repository. This makes tools like Jenkins unnecessary lowering the complexity in setting up apps further down. Currently the DigitalOcean App Platform only integrates with GitHub repositories, but support for GitLab and Bitbucket is coming soon.

Another aspect of its design is that it focuses on developers or entrepreneurs whose application's requirements are not that complex to require access to the underlying infrastructure, and are just looking for a PaaS platform that takes care of those details for them.Typical use cases of such applications are Web apps, Static sites, APIs and Background workers.

As far as Static sites goes, deployment is a breeze. You just sign up for a DigitalOcean account, visit the App Platform's portal and click on the blue “Launch Your App” button.

Then you have to sign into your GitHub account, choose the repo to connect to and, a couple of screens further down, you get to choose the desired hosting plan. After that just click the “Launch Your Starter App” button.

You can build and deploy three static sites for free on the Starter tier, and each additional static site will be charged $3/month. If, however, you are going to deploy a dynamic site (say with Python, Flask and Postgres) go with the Basic tier and Professional tier, which contain compute resources.

Upon deployment the platform assigns an app link to it with which anyone can access it from the web; you can add a custom domain to the site too.

The Platform is still in its infancy and thus constantly updated. Some of the forthcoming features are :

  • Support for GitLab and Bitbucket

  • Insights alerting that will alert you (via email or Slack) when metrics you are tracking under insights (e.g., CPU usage, memory) exceed a threshold

  • Auto-scaling to make it even easier to handle traffic spikes

  • Deployment previews for reviewing changes before they go live

  • ‘Bring-your-own Container’ for deploying your pre-built containers

To try out the platform I suggest opening a DO account (if you want you can use this link to benefit from $100 in cloud credits
and first deploy a static website to the cloud by following the instructions here.

As soon as you feel more confident and need to go deeper, start by checking the How-Tos here. They provide detailed instructions on how to manage databases, deployments, setting up domains etc.

To sum up, the DigitalOcean App Platform targets the PaaS market share occupied by Heroku and others. Will it succeed? The chances are high since it already has a dedicated community of customer developers who, findng it of value, will play their part in spreading the word, for sure!


More Information

Digital Ocean App Platform

Introducing DigitalOcean App Platform: reimagining PaaS to make it simpler for you to build, deploy, and scale apps

How To Deploy a Static Website to the Cloud with DigitalOcean App Platform

App Platform How-Tos


Related Articles

Kubernetes for Full-Stack Developers

The Illustrated Children’s Guide to Kubernetes

DigitalOcean Launches Managed Database Service


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Last Updated ( Thursday, 22 October 2020 )