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Yesod Haskell

Heroku Deployment

This tutorial will go over the steps needed in order to get a Yesod application deployed to Heroku, connecting to a database, and ensuring all requests are forced to use the SSL protocol.

We are going to assume two things in this tutorial:

  1. You have used Heroku before to deploy web applications.
  2. You have a Yesod application created with the yesod-postgres template.

Adding a Buildpack

The first thing we are going to want to do is to add a buildpack for Haskell. I have had a good experience with the heroku-buildpback-stack.

You can add a buildpack via Heroku's web UI, or on the command line:

heroku buildpacks:set https://github.com/mfine/heroku-buildpack-stack

Binding to the Correct Port

The port that a Heroku application must bind to is set dynamically by Heroku, but can be accessed via the PORT environmental variable.

Yesod already has a mechanism for retrieving the port to bind to from the environment, but it looks for the YESOD_PORT environmental variable.

What we need to do, then is to set YESOD_PORT equal to the value of PORT before the application is started. All we have to do is add a .profile file to the root of our Yesod project:

# .profile
export YESOD_PORT=$PORT

Adding a Database

Adding a database happens in two steps.

First, we need to add the "addon" to our application:

heroku addons:create heroku-postgresql:hobby-dev

Next, we need to instruct Yesod to connect to the database server that Heroku has provisioned for us.

If you run heroku config, you will see all the environmental variables in our environment. We are only interested in DATABASE_URL, which will be a Postgres connection string in the following format: postgres://<user>:<pass>@<host>:<port>/<db>.

If you take a look at ./config/settings.yml, you can see that Yesod looks for specific environmental variables. Let's set these on Heroku so that Yesod will pick them up:

heroku config:set YESOD_PGUSER=<user> YESOD_PGPASS=<pass> YESOD_PGHOST=<host> YESOD_PGDATABASE=<database>

Forcing SSL

A common requirement in production applications is to force all connections to an application to be made via SSL / the HTTPS protocol.

While some of that can be done at the DNS level, it is the responsibility of the application layer to do that.

Luckily, Yesod is built on WAI, and WAI provides the forceSSL that will do exactly that.

We can modify makeApplication function, and simply include the middleware. (Make sure to import forceSSL).

-- src/Application.hs

makeApplication :: App -> IO Application
makeApplication foundation = do
    logWare <- makeLogWare foundation
    -- Create the WAI application and apply middlewares
    appPlain <- toWaiAppPlain foundation
    return $ forceSSL $ logWare $ defaultMiddlewaresNoLogging appPlain

However, what if we only wanted to force SSL in production? Well, notice how makeApplication is called with a value of type App, and App is created in the makeFoundation functions. We can add a new field to App, initialize that field in makeFoundation, and then only use forceSSL if that field's value is Production.

-- src/Foundation.hs

data Environment = Production | Development deriving (Read)

data App = App
    { appSettings    :: AppSettings
    , appStatic      :: Static -- ^ Settings for static file serving.
    , appConnPool    :: ConnectionPool -- ^ Database connection pool.
    , appHttpManager :: Manager
    , appLogger      :: Logger
    , environment    :: Environment -- ^ This is our new field
    }

-- src/Application.hs

-- In the makeFoundation, we want to make sure that our environment field is
-- initialized
makeFoundation :: AppSettings -> IO App
makeFoundation appSettings = do
    --
    menv <- readMay <$> getEnv "YESOD_ENVIRONMENT"
    let environment = maybe Development id menv -- default to Development
    --

-- Finally, we switch forceSSL on or off based on the value of the environmen
-- field of our App value.
makeApplication :: App -> IO Application
makeApplication foundation = do
    logWare <- makeLogWare foundation
    let sslWare = makeSSLWare foundation
    -- Create the WAI application and apply middlewares
    appPlain <- toWaiAppPlain foundation
    return $ sslWare $ logWare $ defaultMiddlewaresNoLogging appPlain

makeSSLWare :: App -> Middleware
makeSSLWare App{..} = case environment of
                          Production -> forceSSL
                          Development -> id

Now, we need to make sure that whenever we start our application we have the YESOD_ENVIRONMENT set to either Production or Development.

Alternatives

Note: If the above works for your sensibilities, don even bother reading the below.

There are a few different ways that we could have gone about conditionally turning on forceSSL.

Since makeApplication is already an IO action, we could have read the environment within makeApplication. I like to keep the IO closer to the top layers of the system, so I didn't choose this route.

Another option is to add a field to the AppSettings data type, and use the dev variable that is set to True or False depending on how the system was started. If we went this route, we'd have to change another part of the system so that the application would be started in such a way that dev would be defined as true when I deployed to my staging server in Heroku.

Finally, we could have used the settings.yml instead, since we are already using an environmental variable named YESOD_. I think this is a legitimate route, but I didn't think about it until later. I'll update this guide if I ever get around to it.

Point is, the suggested route is "good enough".

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