Developing software applications that are scalable, reliable, and easy to maintain is a challenging task. However, following the 12 factor app principles can make this process easier and more efficient. In this blog post, we will discuss the 12 factor app principles and how to develop applications that adhere to them.
Maintain a single codebase for each application, tracked in a version control system such as Git. This ensures that the development team is always working with the same code and can easily track changes over time. Version control also enables collaboration among team members and allows for easy rollbacks in case of errors.
Declare and isolate dependencies for each application. Use package managers and containerization to ensure consistency across different environments. This makes it easier to manage dependencies and ensures that the application will behave consistently regardless of the environment it’s running in.
Store configuration in environment variables, not in the code. This allows for easy deployment across different environments and separation of concerns. Configuration changes can be made quickly and easily, and the code can be kept separate from the environment it’s running in.
Treat backing services such as databases and message queues as attached resources. Store their configuration in environment variables and connect to them via a URL or other reference. This makes it easier to manage services and ensure that they are always available and working as expected.
Build, release, run
Use a continuous integration/continuous deployment (CI/CD) pipeline to automate building, releasing, and running applications. This ensures consistency and reduces the risk of errors. Automating these processes also saves time and reduces the likelihood of human error.
Use stateless processes that can be easily scaled up or down. Use process managers such as systemd or supervisord to manage processes. Stateless processes allow for easier scaling and make it easier to recover from failures.
Expose services via a port binding mechanism such as HTTP or HTTPS. This allows for easy communication between different services. Port binding also makes it easier to load balance and scale services.
Scale out by adding more instances of an application, rather than increasing the size of an instance. This ensures that an application can handle increased traffic without becoming a single point of failure. Scaling out also allows for easier load balancing and fault tolerance.
Design applications to be disposable. Use graceful shutdown mechanisms to handle termination signals and ensure that an application can be easily restarted. This allows for faster recovery from failures and makes it easier to deploy updates.
parity Keep development, staging, and production environments as similar as possible. Use configuration management tools such as Ansible or Chef to automate environment setup. Keeping environments consistent makes it easier to identify and fix issues and reduces the likelihood of errors.
Treat logs as event streams. Store logs in a centralized location and use tools such as Logstash or Graylog for log analysis. Centralized logging makes it easier to identify issues and debug problems.
Use admin processes such as database migrations or backups to be run as one-off processes. These should be separate from regular application processes to prevent interference with normal application operations. Separating admin processes ensures that they won’t interfere with regular application processes.
- The 12 factor app website: https://12factor.net/ This website provides a detailed overview of the 12 factor app principles, as well as examples and best practices for implementing them.
- Heroku Dev Center: https://devcenter.heroku.com/articles/ Heroku is a cloud platform that emphasizes the use of the 12 factor app principles. Their developer center contains a wealth of resources and tutorials on how to develop applications that adhere to these principles.
- Docker Documentation: https://docs.docker.com/ Docker is a popular containerization platform that can help you isolate dependencies and ensure consistency across different environments. Their documentation contains detailed guides on how to use Docker to develop 12 factor apps.
- Ansible Documentation: https://docs.ansible.com/ Ansible is a configuration management tool that can help you automate environment setup and ensure that your environments are consistent. Their documentation contains detailed guides on how to use Ansible to implement the 12 factor app principles.
- Graylog Documentation: https://docs.graylog.org/ Graylog is a log analysis tool that can help you centralize your logs and make it easier to identify and debug issues. Their documentation contains detailed guides on how to use Graylog to implement the 12 factor app principles.
- The Twelve-Factor App: A Practical Guide to Building Twelve-Factor Apps: https://www.amazon.com/Twelve-Factor-App-Practical-Building-ebook/dp/B08G8PLKHZ This book provides a practical guide to building 12 factor apps, including real-world examples and best practices for implementing the principles.
By following the 12 factor app principles, we can build applications that are scalable, reliable, and easy to maintain across different environments. This makes it easier to deploy updates, recover from failures, and ensure that applications are running as expected. Incorporating these principles into your development process will make your team more efficient and improve the quality of your applications.