Heroku Pipeline: all you should know

Are you tired of the tedious and error-prone deployment process on the Heroku platform? If so, it's time to explore Heroku Pipeline, which optimizes your development workflow and ensures your application is deployed with maximum efficiency and reliability.

Today, we'll dive deeper into the world of Heroku Pipeline and explore how to leverage them to simplify your application deployment process. Prepare to optimize your dev workflow and elevate your application deployment to new heights.

What is Heroku Pipeline

Heroku Pipeline is a continuous delivery solution that empowers developers to streamline their development workflow, establishing a sequence of stages or environments for their application from development to production. Each phase in the pipeline symbolizes a distinct milieu and can have its own set of resources and settings.

According to the official Heroku Dev Center, developers can use the Heroku CLI or the Heroku Dashboard to create a new pipeline and add apps to it. They can also configure each pipeline stage with different resources and settings, such as databases, add-ons, and environment variables. Once the pipeline is set up, developers can deploy and promote changes between stages, which allows them to test changes in a safe and controlled manner before releasing them to production.

The Heroku Dev Center also provides information on advanced features of Heroku Pipeline, such as pipeline review apps, which allows developers to create temporary, disposable apps for testing new features or changes.

Is it free?

While Heroku Pipeline itself is free to use, additional costs may be associated with using other Heroku features and services. For example, Heroku charges based on the number of Dynos (virtual containers that run your application) and the number of resources (such as memory and CPU) that you use. Additional costs may be associated with adding add-ons from the Heroku marketplace, such as databases, caching services, and monitoring tools.

In addition to these costs, costs may be associated with using third-party tools and services that integrate with Heroku. For example, if you use a third-party testing tool that integrates with Heroku Pipeline, you may need to pay a separate fee to use that tool.

Despite these potential costs, Heroku Pipeline remains a popular choice among developers due to its ease of use, scalability, and integration with other Heroku features and services. Whether you are building a small prototype or a large-scale production application, Heroku Pipeline provides a flexible and powerful platform for managing your application development process.

Difference between Heroku app and pipeline

Heroku app and pipeline are both related to deploying and managing applications on the Heroku platform, but they serve different purposes and have different levels of complexity.

A Heroku app is a single application instance that is deployed on the Heroku platform. It represents a single codebase and can have multiple processes running simultaneously, such as a web server, a background worker, and a scheduler. Each Heroku app has its own resources and configurations, such as a database and environment variables. Developers can use the Heroku Dashboard or the Heroku CLI to create and manage Heroku apps.

On the other hand, a Heroku pipeline is a set of multiple Heroku apps organized into a series of stages or environments and production. Each stage in the pipeline represents a different instance of the Heroku app, with its own set of resources and configurations. Developers can use the pipeline to deploy and promote changes between stages, such as moving changes from the development stage to the staging stage and eventually to the production stage.

Thus, a Heroku app represents a single instance of an application. In contrast, a Heroku pipeline represents a set of multiple instances of an application organized into a series of stages or environments. One of the main benefits of using a Heroku Pipeline is the ability to achieve a high level of collaboration and visibility across your team. Each team member can work on a separate stage of the pipeline, and changes can be easily shared and tracked. You can also use pipeline-specific add-ons, such as load balancers, to manage the resources of the entire pipeline.

When to use an App vs. Pipeline

The decision to use a Heroku app or pipeline depends on the complexity and size of your project. For small to medium-sized applications that require a single environment, a Heroku app is usually sufficient. For larger applications that require multiple environments and complex deployment workflows, a pipeline is recommended.

In addition, a pipeline is recommended for teams that require collaboration and visibility across different stages of the application lifecycle. A pipeline can help to streamline the development process, improve testing, and increase the quality of the final product.

In conclusion, both Heroku apps and pipelines offer different benefits and are suitable for different types of projects. By understanding the differences between the two, you can make an informed decision about which solution is best for your application deployment needs.

How to use Heroku Pipeline

The Heroku Pipeline is an effective solution for efficiently managing the deployment of applications on the Heroku platform. Developers can use Heroku Pipeline to establish a sequence of stages or environments for their application, ranging from development to production, and securely and systematically move changes between these stages. In this part of the article, we will discuss how to use Heroku Pipeline to streamline your development workflow.

Step 1: Create a New Pipeline

To utilize Heroku Pipeline, the initial step is to generate a fresh pipeline. To accomplish this task, you need to access your Heroku account and proceed to the Heroku Dashboard. Then, you can choose the "Create new pipeline" option and abide by the instructions to establish a fresh pipeline.

Step 2: Add Apps to the Pipeline

Once you have created a new pipeline, the next step is to add apps to the pipeline. You can do this by selecting the pipeline in the Heroku Dashboard and then clicking on the "Add App" button. Afterward, you may pick the application to be added to the pipeline and select the stage or environment where it should be deployed.

From the Heroku CLI you need to add an app to your pipeline with the heroku pipelines: add command:

$ heroku pipelines:add example-pipeline -a example-staging-app
? Stage of example-staging: staging
Adding example-staging to example pipeline as staging... done

Step 3: Configure Each Stage of the Pipeline

After adding apps to your pipeline, the next step is to configure it. This involves setting up the necessary environment variables, defining the build and deploy processes, and configuring the necessary add-ons. To configure your pipeline, click on the "Configure" button in the pipeline dashboard.

On the configuration page, you can configure your pipeline by creating a new pipeline stage or editing an existing one. You can also define the build and deploy process for each stage by specifying the buildpacks and build command. Additionally, you can configure add-ons that your app needs to run.

Step 4: Test Your Pipeline

Once you have configured your pipeline, it is important to test it to ensure that everything is working as expected. You can test your pipeline by deploying code changes to the development stage and verifying that they are automatically propagated to the staging and production stages.

To test your pipeline, push a code change to the development stage and wait for the deployment to complete. Once the deployment is complete, check the logs to ensure that everything is working as expected. If there are any issues, you can troubleshoot them by examining the logs.

Step 5: Deploy Changes to Production

Once you have tested your pipeline, the final step is to deploy changes to production. To do this, simply push your pipeline's changes to the development stage, and they will automatically be propagated to the staging and production stages.

To deploy your changes to production, push the code changes to the development stage and wait for the deployment to complete. Once the deployment is complete, verify that the changes have been propagated to the staging and production stages.

Summarizing, using Heroku Pipeline involves creating a new pipeline, adding apps to the pipeline, configuring each stage of the pipeline, deploying and promoting changes between stages, and monitoring and analyzing your application. Following these steps, you can streamline your development workflow and ensure your application is deployed and managed effectively on the Heroku platform.

Some tips

  • Plan your Pipeline structure: Before creating a Pipeline, it's essential to plan the structure of your Pipeline. Consider the stages you need for your workflows, such as development, staging, and production, and how your applications will be organized within each stage.
  • Use Pipeline promotions: Heroku Pipeline offers automatic code promotion, which can help you avoid manual errors and save time. Use Pipeline promotions to automatically move your code through the development, staging, and production stages.
  • Assign Pipeline ownership: Assign Pipeline ownership to a Heroku team to prevent common permissions-related issues in collaborative workflows. This will help you maintain better control over your applications and ensure that team members have the correct access levels.
  • Use Heroku Add-ons: Heroku Add-ons can help you add new features to your application and improve its functionality. Use Add-ons to add new services, such as databases or caching, to your application as it moves through your Pipeline.
  • Monitor your Pipeline: Monitoring your Pipeline is critical to ensure that your application is running smoothly. Use Heroku Metrics and Logs to monitor your application's performance and quickly identify and troubleshoot issues.
  • Use the Heroku CLI: The Heroku CLI is a powerful command-line interface that allows you to manage your applications and Pipelines from the command line. Use the CLI to automate common tasks and save time.
  • Use Heroku Connect: Heroku Connect is a powerful tool that allows you to synchronize data between your Heroku app and Salesforce. Use Heroku Connect to automate data synchronization tasks and streamline your workflow.


In conclusion, Heroku Pipeline is a robust deployment tool that can help developers streamline the deployment process and collaborate more effectively. Whether you're working on a small hobby project or a large-scale enterprise application, Heroku Pipeline provides a scalable and reliable platform for managing the deployment process. By following best practices and taking advantage of the platform's robust features, developers can ensure that their applications are deployed quickly, efficiently, and with the highest level of quality and reliability. With Heroku Pipeline, developers can focus on building great applications while leaving the deployment and scaling to the experts.

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