I have been looking for a clean way to push to a production server for a while,and a while ago I read about FlightplanJS.

Flightplan is basically a wrapper around some bash commands,namely rsync, ssh, scp, rm, and a few others. It’s going to SSHinto your server and execute a bunch of commands on your box.

This means you can do some mild environment changes, trigger some scripts,etc…

If you wanted more fine grained control over your environment, I’d take alook at chef, puppet, docker, etc… as those are going to be where you’llget that level of control.

But for basic to even intermediate levelSPA apps, I have found this to be more than enough to get a fast productioncycle spun up.

In my opinion, maintaining side projects should be fairly “set it and forget it"when it comes to the dev ops, and this is a pretty good middle-groundsolution for that.

Setup your server

Add a Passwordless Deploy user

(wherever it says url.com, use your server’s domain or IP)

Login to new server as root, then add a deploy user

sudo useradd --create-home -s /bin/bash deploy
sudo adduser deploy sudo
sudo passwd deploy

And Update the new password

Now login as that user

ssh deploy@url.com

Make directory .ssh on the remote server and log out

mkdir .ssh

Push your ssh key to the authorized_keys file on the remote server

scp ~/.ssh/id_rsa.pub deploy@url.com:~/.ssh/authorized_keys

Note: you might have to manually copy your id_pub.rsa file from your local machine to your vps.Remote copying has been finnicky for me before, but generally works.

Install flightplan

  • npm install -g flightplan
  • in your project folder npm install flightplan --save-dev
  • create a flightplan.js file


var plan = require('flightplan');
var config = require('./config); //keep sensitive info in a config file that isn't checked into version control.
 * Remote configuration for "production"
plan.target('production', {
  host: config.SSH_HOST, //should be a string
  username: config.SSH_USER, //should also be string
  agent: process.env.SSH_AUTH_SOCK, //this actually needs to be the env variable

  webRoot: '/var/www/testapp.com',
  ownerUser: 'root',
  repository: 'https://github.com/yourgithub/testapp.git',
  branchName: 'master',
  maxDeploys: 10

plan.target('dev', {
  host: config.SSH_HOST,
  username: config.SSH_USER,
  agent: process.env.SSH_AUTH_SOCK,

  webRoot: '/var/www/dev.testapp.com/client',
  ownerUser: 'root',
  repository: 'https://github.com/yourgithub/testapp.git',
  branchName: 'master',
  maxDeploys: 10

plan.remote('setup', function(remote) {
  remote.sudo('mkdir -p ' + remote.runtime.webRoot);
  remote.with('cd ' + remote.runtime.webRoot, function() {
    remote.sudo('git clone -b ' + remote.runtime.branchName + ' ' + remote.runtime.repository + ' .');
    remote.log('GitHub repo successfully cloned.');
    remote.sudo('npm install -g yarn');
    remote.log('Yarn installed successfully.');
    remote.log('Environment setup correctly.');

plan.local('deploy', function(local) {
  local.log('Run build');
  // local.exec('npm run build');

  local.log('Copy files to remote hosts');
  var filesToCopy = local.exec('git ls-files', {silent: true});
  local.transfer(filesToCopy, '/var/www/dev.testapp.com');

plan.remote('deploy', function(remote) {

  remote.with('cd ' + remote.runtime.webRoot, function() {
    remote.log('remote work beginning.');
    remote.exec('npm install');
    remote.log('npm install finished');
    remote.log('running npm build');
    remote.exec('npm run build');
    remote.log('Build successful');

Using the flightplan

Run fly from the command line in the root of your project.

fly deploy:dev
fly deploy:production
fly setup:dev 
fly setup:production 
  • Note: If you run into an error “no tty present and no askpass program specified”, check these out:

From the flightplan docs:

Scenario:‘pstadler’ is the user for connecting to the host and ‘www’ is the user under which you want to execute commands with sudo.

  1. ‘pstadler’ has to be in the sudo group:
$ groups pstadler
pstadler : pstadler sudo
  1. ‘pstadler’ needs to be able to run sudo -u ‘www’ without a password. In order to do this, add the following line to /etc/sudoers:
pstadler ALL=(www) NOPASSWD: ALL
  1. user ‘www’ needs to have a login shell (e.g. bash, sh, zsh, …)
$ cat /etc/passwd | grep www
www:x:1002:1002::/home/www:/bin/bash   # GOOD
www:x:1002:1002::/home/www:/bin/false  # BAD

You can get some more info on editing your /etc/sudoers file here. Edit this file very carefully as messing it up can have serious consequences.

Adding new environments and projects

You can easily add a new environment or project using this as a structure.This is a pretty extensible deployment setup that you can maintain with minimal effort.

For example, just add a new target and you can run setup on it and it will provision you a new instance of your app.

plan.target('test', {
  host: config.SSH_HOST,
  username: config.SSH_USER,
  agent: process.env.SSH_AUTH_SOCK,

  webRoot: '/var/www/test.testapp.com',
  ownerUser: 'root',
  repository: 'https://github.com/yourgithub/testapp.git',
  branchName: 'master',
  maxDeploys: 10

The flightplan.js npm

Other resources used




Stretch Goals / Where you could take this

  • Integrate Docker and auto-build / pull containers with plan.remote()
  • Create a test suite and only push to prod if tests pass
  • Add a CI/CD