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Build Files


The DotCloud Build File defines the structure of your code and the architecture of the services within your application. This information enables DotCloud to automatically create a custom stack designed for your application.

What’s in a Build File?

The best way to explain the contents of a Build File is to walk through an example. Let’s look at a Build File.

www:                 # Could actually be anything: front, joe...
  type: ruby         # But this must be a valid service type.
db:                  # There again, the name can be anything you like.
  type: postgresql   # ...but the type has to be a valid one.

The Build File is YAML formatted, so it is easily read by humans and computers alike. Most developers create Build Files using a text editor because the format is so simple. In YAML, indentation is important. Each indentation is two spaces.

In line 1, we create a service named “www”. Any indented lines below this one are attributes of this service. In this case, line 2 defines the type attribute of the www service. The type attribute describes the technology that the service requires. It is very important, and every service must have a type attribute.

In lines 3 and 4, we create a PostgreSQL service named db.

Specifying the Root Directory of a Service

If your stack uses multiple web services, you will probably want to put the source of each web service in a different directory. You can use the optional approot attribute to define a root directory for each service.

For instance, if your code is structured like this:

├── admin/
│   ├── djangoproj/
│   │   ├── settings.py
│   │   └── …
│   ├── wsgi.py
│   └── …
└── frontend/
    ├── index.php
    ├── logo.png
    ├── style.css
    └── …

You will put the following dotcloud.yml file in “myapp”:

  approot: frontend
  type: php
  approot: admin
  type: python

In this case, the service “www” would be a typical PHP application in the “frontend” directory; and the service “backoffice” would be a Django application in the “admin” directory.

Scaling a Service

Scaling services was previously done from the Build File using an optional instances field in a given service, but this is being deprecated in favor of the dotcloud scale command explained in our scaling guide.

We believe that a command to scale your services at “runtime” is better because tying an amount of computing resources to an application code doesn’t really make sense. For example you might want to use 2 web front-ends for your production deployment but only 1 for your staging deployment.

Defining Environment Variable

The recommended way to set environment variables is to use the dotcloud var command. You can, however, also define them in your Build File, using the optional environment section:

  type: python
    MODE: production
    API: http://www.externalapi.com/v1/

Check out the environment guide to know more about dotcloud var, as well as the special files environment.json and .yml.