Before getting started, ensure you have a Dokku instance running with a new app. An example app can be created following these steps:

# on the Dokku host
dokku apps:create amber-app

# Setup postgres db
sudo dokku plugin:install
dokku postgres:create amber-db

# This sets the DATABASE_URL env var
dokku postgres:link amber-db amber-app

Define Buildpack

Buildpacks tell Dokku how to build and deploy your application. Create a file named .buildpacks in the root of your project and with this:
# If you need js / css compiled

If you want js / css to be compiled, you need to modify the build command in package.json to "build": "npm run release",. Because the nodejs buildpack expects npm build to compile the production assets.

Not defining a .buildpack file will cause Dokku to build your project using the Dockerfile as Dokku will auto-detect it, this will not work and cause issues.

Define Crystal Version

It's best practice to lock your crystal version to the one you're using. Without this the latest version of crystal will be used, potentially causing issues in deployment.

Create a file named .crystal-version in the root of your project with the wanted crystal version:


Create Procfile

To deploy your app to Dokku you're going to need a Procfile. Create a Procfile at the root of your Amber application and add the following:

release: bin/amber db migrate
web: bin/{your-app-name}

The Amber buildpack takes care of compiling the project for you.

Env Vars

Set Production Vars

Where ever your application runs, it needs to be in production mode.

ssh dokku@{} config:set {your-app-name} AMBER_ENV=production

Set Encryption Key

Ensure you first run:

amber encrypt

To be able to decrypt and use production environment you'll need to set ENV["AMBER_ENCRYPTION_KEY"] to the value of your local projects .encryption_key file.

Never add .encryption_key to github. Amber adds it by default to your .gitignore file.

Copy the key from .encryption_key and set it to env, like so:

ssh dokku@{} config:set {your-app-name} AMBER_ENCRYPTION_KEY={your_key}

Pick up Env vars

In order for the buildpack to work properly your application has to:

  • Listen on the environment's port.

  • Connect to any services like redis / database.

Ensure these settings are in your file.

Amber::Server.configure do |settings| = ""
  settings.port = ENV["PORT"].to_i if ENV["PORT"]?
  settings.redis_url = ENV["REDIS_URL"] if ENV["REDIS_URL"]?
  settings.database_url = ENV["DATABASE_URL"] if ENV["DATABASE_URL"]?


All that's left is to create a git repository, add the Dokku remote and push it there.

$ git init
$ git remote add dokku dokku@{}:{your-app-name}
$ git add -A
$ git commit -m "My first Amber app"
$ git push dokku master

More information on how to deploy your app can be found on the Dokku docs

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