Deploy a new Sails.js app to Heroku


  • Set up a Heroku account, install the command line tool and authenticate through it.
  • Sails npm install -g sails@0.1.4 (the latest version as of 20/8/14). If this fails, you may be using a version of npm that just does not work with sails...Make sure your node version is 0.10.x and then do sudo npm install -g npm@1.4.20 and try again.

Basic setup

  • Generate your project, cd into the directory: sails new url-shortener && cd url-shortener

  • Create a Procfile touch Procfile then open it and add web: node app.js.

  • Commit everything to git. git init && git add . && git commit -m 'Initial commit'

  • Add a node version to your package.json. The current stable version is 0.10.x, so we need add:

"engines": {
  "node": "0.10.x"
  • Create an app for the project on Heroku: heroku create brents-url-shortener

  • Set the app environment to production: heroku config:set NODE_ENV=production

  • Deploy: git push heroku master

Adding some persistence

Next we need to add a MongoDB connection, otherwise we will just be using sails-disk and all of our data will be wiped whenever the app restarts.

  • Add the MongoHQ free add-on to the Heroku app: heroku addons:add mongohq

  • Install the sails-mongo adapter: npm install sails-mongo --save.

  • Heroku automatically creates an environment variable that points to the MongoHQ database when you install the add-on. So just copy the following into config/connections.js (don't forget to add a trailing comma if you put it before other options):

productionMongoHqDb: {
  adapter: 'sails-mongo',
  url: process.env.MONGOHQ_URL
  • Change the connection used for models in the production environment to productionMongoHqDb in config/env/production.js.

Use Redis for the session and socket store

In order to share session data between multiple instances, we have to use some shared data store. Let's use Redis.

  • Add the RedisToGo free add-on to the Heroku app: heroku addons:add redistogo

  • Install the connect-redis npm module: npm install connect-redis@1.4.5 --save-. We specified the version here explicitly because 2.0.0 doesn't seem to work with the current version of Sails.

  • Open package.json and change "connect-redis": "^1.4.5", to "connect-redis": "1.4.5" (just remove the ^).

  • Run heroku config again and this time we need to pull some information out of the REDISTOGO_URL environment variable. We need to set various other variables on Heroku from pieces of this one.

    The url is structured like this: redis://

    Use that to set the REDIS_DB, REDIS_PASSWORD, REDIS_HOST and REDIS_PORT with heroku config:set VAR_NAME=value

  • Copy the following into both config/sessions.js and config/sockets.js, within the export object.

adapter: 'redis',
host: process.env.REDIS_HOST,
port: process.env.REDIS_PORT,
db: process.env.REDIS_DB,
pass: process.env.REDIS_PASSWORD
  • Now so that we can still run our app locally in development, let's make our local environment use the memory store. Paste this into the export object in config/local.js
session: {
  adapter: 'memory'

sockets: {
  adapter: 'memory'

Note: I also had to install sails-disk again manually in order for npm install to work: npm install sails-disk --save

  • Commit this, and deploy to Heroku again. git add -A . && git commit -m 'Done!' && git push heroku master


Run heroku logs and you should see the app start just like when you run sails lift locally. For good measure, you can run heroku restart. You might want to look into nodejistu/forever if you actually want to run this for a real app.

It's a bit more difficult than Rails, but pretty straightforward if you follow this step-by-step - at least on the current version. Thanks to the SailsCasts folks for their Heroku deployment guide screencast, which you can find here - unfortunately it was created in November, 2013 and Sails has changed in many ways since then, hence this blog post.

A repository where all of the above changes have been made can be found at brentvatne/url-shortener or And for good measure, a (slightly) shortened url to this article, backed by the above Sails.js sample app hosted on Heroku, is available here: