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AppHarbor: Hosted .NET PaaS as a Continuous Integration and Deployment Platform

Posted by Sandeep Chanda on Apr 30, 2014

AppHarbor is a hosted .NET Platform as a Service that can scale your ASP.NET and ASP.NET MVC applications in the cloud. It also provides you a marketplace of add-ons that can help you extend the platform to support features such as database connectivity, application monitoring and scheduled services. An interesting aspect of AppHarbor is that it supports connectivity with GitHub, allowing it be used in conjunction with your Git Source to create a continuous build environment. AppHarbor can then automatically deploy a successful build into the preconfigured environment to host the application.

To create a build and deployment environment, you need to first create an application in AppHarbor.

Login to your AppHarbor account and create an application as shown in the figure below:

Notice that you can also specify the host country. Currently AppHarbor is supported only in three countries. Once the application is created you will get the options to deploy an application to AppHarbor using BitBucket, CodePlex, and GitHub. If you are not using any of these services, you can deploy using a built-in Git Repository.

After creating the application go ahead and select the "Deploy using GitHub" option. It will prompt you to login to your GitHub account. Once logged in, it will take you to the New Bridge page for you to select the application source from GitHub that you want to deploy to AppHarbor as shown below:

Next if your application has a SQL Database to be hosted, then click on the Add-ons option and search for the choice of database you need to connect. In this example, we are adding an instance of SQL Server.

The installed add-ons will be available in the Application Home Page. In our example you can find the SQL Server add-on installed as shown in the figure below:

Click on the installed add-on, and then on the add-on details page, click on "Go to SQL Server" to land on the database configuration page. You will find a few configuration variables than will be empty. The variable of interest for us would be the "Connectionstring alias". Edit the variable, and specify the name of the connectionstring from your app in this variable. This would indicate AppHarbor to find the connectionstring in your application and replace it with the connection information of database hosted by the add-on.

You are now all setup for build and deployment using AppHarbor. You can make changes to the application using Visual Studio 2013 and check-in your changes using the TFS Git Client.

Once your Git changes are synced, AppHarbor will automatically pick them up for a build and subsequent deployment. All builds are also stored for historical purpose, and if you need to deploy an older version you can do so by selecting the build to deploy.

AppHarbor is easy to configure and can get you up and running very quickly with a build and deployment environment to host .NET applications.


.NET, ASP.NET, Cloud, MVC, PaaS

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