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Deploying Forem: A humbling experience

Aaron Martinez
・2 min read

My first post, Social Media 4.0, was filled with naïve exuberance, as I had just discovered the Forem platform. I was determined to deploy Forem myself (hubris) also (I believe the best way to learn about something is by working with it). And what followed was 5 weeks of starting and stopping in every conceivable environment, trying to properly deploy the behemoth that is Forem. The experience nearly brought me to my knees, it was a serious challenge.

The following was my personal experience and does not reflect on the Forem team. They have made a jaw-droppingly spectacular product; a social media platform that is both enormously complex and elegantly straightforward. A one-two punch that I was woefully unprepared for.

I failed to deploy in Docker. I failed to deploy in Ubuntu. I failed to deploy in Heroku. I failed to deploy in Digital Ocean. I failed to deploy locally and I failed to deploy in the cloud. I was able, however, to deploy in Gitpod so I knew it was possible and pressed on. I tried a hundred combinations, of different environments, in different environments--often in directly-contradictory manner.

But then, like an oasis in the desert, I found it. A platform that was practically built to host Forem. The ideal developer environment. Simple cost structure. Built-in command line. Intelligent package readers. The whole nine yards. And best of all, preloading an admin backend for Forem with step-by-step instructions how to register for the various essential services. I'm referring to https://render.com.

It's the perfect live sandbox for application deployment, with a lot of prebuilt packages for different frameworks. I've never come across a platform that's so affordable and developer-friendly. And I swear this isn't promotional or anything, I just honestly believe I found a dynamite host for the Forem platform.

Do I regret all my failed attempts to deploy Forem? Not at all. I was totally unfamiliar with Ruby on Rails and it was a great learning experience.

So where do I stand ? The platform, in demo mode, is up and running on the HEADLINE site at https://forum.headline.dev. I've added minor customizations while I experiment with the backend load. Forem has been in continuous deployment for two weeks now with no errors to report and no downtime. I would like to finish having the platform built out by a professional developer with Forem experience. If that's something I can find here I'm all for it (but if that's an inappropriate use of the forem.dev service just let me know and I'll refrain from looking here). I have serious ambitions with Forem and will be looking for any opportunity to contribute to the community, form partnerships, etc.

HEADLINE is kicking off it's first serious financing round and plans to make Forem a major focus in the months ahead.

Discussion (15)

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akhil profile image
Akhil Naidu

Thanks to remininding me about render.com. previously when Forem was using elasticsearch as one of its default service, it is hard to configure things in render, but now as there is no elasticsearch things might move more smoothly.

I would like to try and have a sneak peek at how this all will turn out now.

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ussaaron profile image
Aaron Martinez Author

Render has really come a long way. There is some weirdness if you try to add a custom domain before you finish setting up the Super Admin, but other than that it's been great.

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akhil profile image
Akhil Naidu

Nice, but can you shortly explain how your configured. Like did you used docker file or separately created a web service, private service and 2 background workers? As you already have a working instance, I would like to follow your path, rather than re-inventing the wheel. Could you give me a push?

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ussaaron profile image
Aaron Martinez Author

I can make a docs guide for you guys. Would that be useful?

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akhil profile image
Akhil Naidu

It would be great and I can also attach your article over here.

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ce7in profile image
Muhammed Cetin

It is a great idea.

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ce7in profile image
Muhammed Cetin

I'm still waiting for a guide to deploy Forem on render.com :) Did you changed your mind?

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ussaaron profile image
Aaron Martinez Author

I will get started on the documentation today. It is still a very involved process so it could take several days to write it up properly.

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ce7in profile image
Muhammed Cetin

I'm glad to hear that. Good luck with :)

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ce7in profile image
Muhammed Cetin

It would be useful, of course :)

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ellativity profile image
Ella Ang (she/her/elle)

Thanks for sharing this insight into your experience, @ussaaron , and congratulations on getting your Forem up and running!

I'm thirding @akhil and @ce7in in requesting a write up of your experience deploying with Render - we'd love to learn more about what worked/what didn't, especially compared to other providers.

Along with @michaeltharrington and @ioscasey , I'm working on some revised Forem Admin documentation, so if you have any feedback for that UX then feel free to share here or by DM.

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ce7in profile image
Muhammed Cetin

Thank you so much for your efforts. Are you only working on the Admin documentation, or the whole documentation including the installation docs? I might have some suggestions for the installation docs :)

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coffeecraftcode profile image
Christina Gorton

As Ella mentioned I am helping our systems team with the installation docs for our FOSS offering. They are currently private but should be available for an initial launch soon. Happy to take any suggestions.

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Ella Ang (she/her/elle)

Hey @ce7in ! Personally, my focus is the Admin documentation, but if you have suggestions for the installation docs then this Forem is the place to share them.

I'm pinging @coffeecraftcode because she's more involved with the installation docs, but feel free to DM me if you feel you just have to get things off your chest and I'll be happy to share with the team.

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ussaaron profile image
Aaron Martinez Author

Will start working on this today. Thank you guys for all the support!