July 2, 2024

Moving our site from Netlify to Fly.io

The Latest from RedwoodJS

Josh GM Walker
Josh GM Walker

We recently switched our main website from Netlify to Fly.io. This was a pretty smooth process and we're happy with the results. Here's a quick overview of our experience.

Why we switched

Netlify is awesome. It's super easy to use and one of the best compliments you can give a deploy provider is that it has been rock solid. We have never had a significant problem and we've been using them for years.

We decided to switch to Fly.io simply because we want to make use of a persistent server for our deployment. With some of the Redwood features we want to start taking advantage of, e.g. SSR, it makes more sense for us to deploy in a serverful way rather than serverless.

Deploying with Fly.io

Fly takes the image of your containerized application and uses that image in a virtual machine to run your application. Fly has support for Redwood when you run fly launch so this is exactly how we'll get started.

After running through that command we have our application deployed to bighorn-website.fly.dev but because we're using the canary version of Redwood we need to make some tweaks before everything works correctly.

I won't go into all the details here and some of our canary setup is subject to change so I would recommend looking at this commit for our current Dockerfile and ./fly/start.sh file setup.

The main changes we chose to make were:

  1. Switched away from the Dockerfile Fly generated and used the Redwood Dockerfile template.

  2. Altered the start script for our Fly machine to start both the web and API server processes. You should follow Fly's advice on multiple processes here.

Networking and DNS

Now that we have our website running on Fly it's time to have the full world use it. This means pointing our redwoodjs.com domain name to the Fly server that runs our application.

Fly has some great documentation on using a custom domain so that we can avoid having to use bighorn-website.fly.dev forever.

This could be done in two ways. Either with a CNAME or with A and AAAA records. With CNAME we would simply add a record that maps redwoodjs.com to bighorn-website.fly.dev. When using A and AAAA records we would add those records pointing to our Fly machine's IP addresses and then use the Fly CLI to set up a TLS certificate for our domain.

Automating deployments

Continuous Deployment (CD) doesn't just sound fancy it's also really convenient. Not having to manually redeploy your site when you make a change can make a difference in how much friction you feel.

Using Fly this was super easy! Again, they have some very straightforward documentation that walks you through the full process. For us, we had to take 3 main steps:

  1. We create a deploy token using the Fly CLI:
fly tokens create deploy -x 999999h
  1. We add that token to our GitHub repository secrets as FLY_API_TOKEN

  2. We then add a small GitHub action (.github/workflows/fly.yml) to redeploy our site when changes happen on our main branch:

  name: Fly Deploy
    - main
     name: Deploy application
     runs-on: ubuntu-latest
     concurrency: deploy-group # Only one deploy job runs at a time
    - uses: actions/checkout@v4
    - uses: superfly/flyctl-actions/setup-flyctl@master
    - run: flyctl deploy --remote-only
           FLY_API_TOKEN: ${{ secrets.FLY_API_TOKEN }}


After all this we have a site deployed on Fly that we can reach with our custom domain: redwoodjs.com

With having set up some of Redwood's canary features previously, we now get the usual set of features you'd expect from a modern web application. SEO-related metatags and SSR to name two.

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Moving our site from Netlify to Fly.io