Dancing in the Clouds

Recent excitment surrounding the launch of a Perl “cloud” hosting provider led me to sign up to the beta programme and give it a whirl. I’m interested in using the platform to deploy Dancer applications so I’ll lay out the steps required to successfully deploy a skeleton application.

Cloud what?

A simple multi-language application platform. Assemble your stack from dozens of pre-configured components. We deploy and scale it for you.


dotcloud is a “platform as a service” provider that aim to take the hassle out of managing servers and deploying code.

The idea is that deploying code with dotcloud is as simple as:

This is enabled by a command line utility that makes it very easy to push code to their servers and have it instantly deployed.

Initial Setup

I’m working on a MacBook with Snow Leopard installed so the following instructions are slightly OS X specific but you should be able to translate them to use your favourite OS or package manager.

Firstly, check you have python installed:

$ which python

I’m on OS X, so it is already installed as standard.

Next install homebrew.

Finally, we need to install the python package manager and the dotcloud client itself:

$ brew install setuptools

$ easy_install dotcloud

First stack

Every project you deploy to dotcloud requires it’s own “namespace” for the deployment stack. This is then split into the multiple “services” that the application requires.

For example, your namespace might be awesomedancerapp and your services might be awesomedancerapp.www, awesomedancerapp.db and so on.

Let’s create our first application namespace:

$ dotcloud create dancertest

If this is your first time running dotcloud, it will ask for your API key, just follow the instructions.

Now let’s create the perl service (the part of the stack which will run the Dancer application):

$ dotcloud deploy -t perl dancertest.www

At this point you can already get to your service: http://www.dancertest.dotcloud.com/

dotcloud psgi application

Now we create our skeleton application:

$ dancer -a Test

Check that it works locally:

$ perl bin/app.pl && open

You should see the Dancer default page. If that failed, perhaps try upgrading Dancer:

cpan Dancer or similar.

skeleton Dancer application

The dotcloud Perl environments rely on PSGI to connect you’re Perl application to their servers. So we need to “plackify” our Dancer application (Plack is the reference implementation based on the PSGI specifiction).

Fortunately Dancer applications support PSGI out of the box, we just need to create an app.psgi file in the root of the application:

$ echo "require 'bin/app.pl';" > app.psgi

Declaring our dependencies

The simplest way to declare the dependencies for a Perl application is to add the required libraries to the makefile. The skeleton Dancer application we created already contains a Makefile.PL. Simply append Plack as a dependency:

    'Test::More' => 0,
    'YAML'       => 0,
    'Dancer'     => 1.3030,
    'Plack'      => 0.9974,

Deploying our code

$ dotcloud push dancertest.www .

This is saying push all the code in the current (.) directory to our service www in our dancertest namspace.

You should see a whole bunch output (cpanminus installing the dependencies) ending in:

<== Installed dependencies for .. Finishing.
21 distributions installed
uwsgi: stopped
uwsgi: started
Connection to www.dancertest.dotcloud.com closed.

Go back to the URL and you should see the skeleton application running:

Dancer application deployed on dotcloud

How ridiculously easy was that? Happy hacking!