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Using Rails+Bower on Heroku

Updated for Rails 4.0.0+


  1. Set up the bower gem.

  2. Follow the Bower instructions and list your dependencies in your bower.json, e.g.

    // bower.json
      // ...
      "dependencies": {
        "d3": "~3.1.0",
        "underscore": "~1.4.4",
  3. Include them in your JavaScript:

    // app/assets/javascripts/application.js
    // Bower packages
    //= require d3/d3
    //= require underscore/underscore
    //= require jquery
    //= require jquery_ujs
    // ...
  4. Ignore the components in your repo. If you prefer to "vendor" your dependencies, skip this step.

    # .gitignore
  5. Install the components.

    npm install -g bower
    bower install

At this point, make sure your app runs and the JS libs installed by Bower are loading on the page.


To have Heroku deploys (Cedar stack only) install and compile Bower components on push:

  1. Add the rails_12factor gem.

  2. Use a custom Heroku buildpack that includes Node.js and Bower (see heroku/heroku-buildpack-ruby#67). If you vendored your components (skipping the .gitignore step above), you can skip this step and use the regular Ruby buildpack.

    heroku config:set BUILDPACK_URL='git://'

Try a deploy: it should successfully compile assets.

Additional resources:

Thanks for this.

Do you know if anything has changed with rc2?

When I push to heroku, even with you gist, I see this:

Preparing app for Rails asset pipeline
Running: rake assets:precompile
I, [2013-06-14T13:56:51.511389 #1830]  INFO -- : Writing /tmp/build_1c1lussslsbet/public/assets/bower-a7406553fea1ea2173cc264291743e1c.json
rake aborted!
Is a directory - read

@afeld Have you tried your solution with images in the components?

Thanks so much for this :)


afeld commented Oct 2, 2013

@oivoodoo I haven't, though I think it should work?

@afeld Hi, I built a sample application over the last days based on your gist and some other postings on the net. Let me ask a question:

Why to you specify "app/assets/components" in .bowerrc? I did so too and it added basically all packages to Git. So I could deploy it actually without the specific heroku build pack.

I later on changed the directory to "vendor/assets/components", removed everything from "app/assets/components" and the deployment on Heroku failed. After configuring the custom build pack installation went very smooth. That's how it should be, shouldn't it?

Where .bowerrc and bower.json should be saved?


afeld commented Oct 26, 2013

@stiebitzhofer The "directory" in the .bowerrc just specifies where the components should be installed - you can change this to wherever you like, if you update the other references to match. Modified the gist to use vendor/ instead.

@aarkerio All the file paths I listed should be relative to the Rails root, meaning the top level directory of your project.

Someone have a gem for this yet?

Check out this protip that uses a slightly different approach that will allow you to use the official Heroku ruby and nodejs buildpacks. This way you're not beholden to a custom buildpack. This approach also adheres to 12 factor principles so you won't have to commit assets to source control. You also won't have to compile assets in production so you should gain a performance bump.

juniorjp commented Feb 9, 2014

I got a conflict: ECONFLICT Unable to find suitable version for jquery

Heroku does not display a screen to solve it. What whould I do ?


afeld commented Apr 22, 2014

@anthonator Niiice, didn't know about multi-buildpack. Will give that a try when I get a chance.

@juniorjp1989 That sounds like a problem between your Bower dependencies, which is not specific to this solution. Basically it isn't able to find a version of jQuery that works for whatever other dependencies you have that use jQuery.

@afeld (I am new to bower) so I can point bower to my app/assets directory rather than vendor/assets/components? Is there an advantage to doing it that way?

@mrtriangle Putting external code in the vendor folder is a good convention because it separates your code from their code, making it really clear what you wrote/maintain and what you pulled in from an external source. It also makes it easier to find things in your app folder when you don't have to sort through all the vendor code.

I'm getting the following error when compile:

rake aborted!
ExecJS::ProgramError: Unexpected token: eof (undefined) (line: 46, col: 0, pos: 1406)

at new JS_Parse_Error (/tmp/execjs20140911-16645-4awaq7js:2357:10623)
at js_error (/tmp/execjs20140911-16645-4awaq7js:2357:10842)
at croak (/tmp/execjs20140911-16645-4awaq7js:2357:19067)
at token_error (/tmp/execjs20140911-16645-4awaq7js:2357:19204)
at unexpected (/tmp/execjs20140911-16645-4awaq7js:2357:19292)
at block_ (/tmp/execjs20140911-16645-4awaq7js:2357:24537)
at ctor.body (/tmp/execjs20140911-16645-4awaq7js:2357:24191)
at function_ (/tmp/execjs20140911-16645-4awaq7js:2357:24256)
at expr_atom (/tmp/execjs20140911-16645-4awaq7js:2357:27308)
at maybe_unary (/tmp/execjs20140911-16645-4awaq7js:2357:29977)

@aarkerio I got mine automatically generated in the /vendor/assets/ folder when I ran rake bower:install So that's where it goes.

thanks for this!
I was able to leave config.assets.compile = false and still have this work.

caedes commented Oct 30, 2014

Some improvements I made:

  • From Rails 4, assets configuration go in config/initializers/assets.rb
  • Use of rails_12factor gem to replace the production compilation configuration
  • Add a package.json to install Bower as a Node.js dependency
  • Use "postinstall": "bower install" in the scripts part of package.json
  • Use of the heroku-buildpack-multi with Node.js and Ruby support

Why can't you just use ?


afeld commented Dec 27, 2014

Updated the gist – much simpler now.

Use of rails_12factor gem to replace the production compilation configuration

Good call – updated.

Use of the heroku-buildpack-multi with Node.js and Ruby support

@caedes Mind sharing instructions for this? Though multi-buildpacks are more flexible, it seems like a fair number of extra setup steps.

Why can't you just use ?

I didn't know about that site, actually. You could, but I am hesitant to reluctant to add yet another deploy-time external dependency, especially since (from their site) "For new components you'll need bundle install two times because Rubygems index update is asynchronous." My approach here is trying to stay as close to the standard (not-Rails-specific) Bower workflow as possible.

I use Bowerfile not bower.json

ENOENT No bower.json present

On Heroku,
I did as described and skipped the .gitIgnore part (used rails_12factor gem).
Everything works fine other than the "fonts" folder that is added to the package and now is not recognized.
Any idea?

vinhnglx commented Mar 4, 2015

I have an error when run bower install: ENOENT No bower.json present.... How to fix it?

vinhnglx commented Mar 4, 2015

yah. I fixed it. We need to edit .bowerrc file.

   "directory": "bower_components"

dukex commented Nov 8, 2015

To change the buildpack run:

$ heroku buildpacks:set 'git://'
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