Cadey is coffee
<Cadey> Hello! Thank you for visiting my website. You seem to be using an ad-blocker. I understand why you do this, but I'd really appreciate if it you would turn it off for my website. These ads help pay for running the website and are done by Ethical Ads. I do not receive detailed analytics on the ads and from what I understand neither does Ethical Ads. If you don't want to disable your ad blocker, please consider donating on Patreon or sending some extra cash to xeiaso.eth or 0xeA223Ca8968Ca59e0Bc79Ba331c2F6f636A3fB82. It helps fund the website's hosting bills and pay for the expensive technical editor that I use for my longer articles. Thanks and be well! the Reclaimer of Heroku's Magic

Read time in minutes: 6

Heroku was catalytic to my career. It's been hard to watch the fall from grace. Don't get me wrong, Heroku still works, but it's obviously been in maintenance mode for years. When I worked there, there was a goal that just kind of grew in scope over and over without reaching an end state: the Dogwood stack.

In Heroku each "stack" is the substrate the dynos run on. It encompasses the AWS runtime, the HTTP router, the logging pipeline and a bunch of the other infrastructure like the slug builder and the deployment infrastructure. The three stacks Heroku has used are named after trees: Aspen, Bamboo and Cedar. Every Heroku app today runs on the Cedar stack, and compared to Bamboo it was a generational leap in capability. Cedar was what introduced buildpacks and support for any language under the sun. Prior stacks railroaded you into Ruby on Rails (Heroku used to be a web IDE for making Rails apps). However there were always plans to improve with another generational leap. This ended up being called the "Dogwood stack", but Dogwood never totally materialized because it was too ambitious for Heroku to handle post-acquisition. Parts of Dogwood's roadmap ended up being used in the implementation of Private Spaces, but as a whole I don't expect Dogwood to materialize in Heroku in the way we all had hoped.

However, I can confidently say that seems like a viable inheritor of the mantle of responsibility that Heroku has left into the hands of the cloud. is a Platform-as-a-Service that hosts your applications on top of physical dedicated servers run all over the world instead of being a reseller of AWS. This allows them to get your app running in multiple regions for a lot less than it would cost to run it on Heroku. They also use anycasting to allow your app to use the same IP address globally. The internet itself will load balance users to the nearest instance using BGP as the load balancing substrate.

Cadey is enby
<Cadey> People have been asking me what I would suggest using instead of Heroku. I have been unable to give a good option until now. If you are dissatisfied with the neglect of Heroku in the wake of the Salesforce acquisition, take a look at Its free tier is super generous. I worked at Heroku and I am beyond satisfied with it. I'm considering using it for hosting some personal services that don't need something like NixOS.

Applications can be built either using cloud native buildpacks, Dockerfiles or arbitrary docker images that you generated with something like Nix's pkgs.dockerTools.buildLayeredImage. This gives you freedom to do whatever you want like the Cedar stack, but at a fraction of the cost. Its default instance size is likely good enough to run the blog you are reading right now and would be able to do that for $2 a month plus bandwidth costs (I'd probably estimate that to be about $3-5, depending on how many times I get on the front page of Hacker News).

You can have persistent storage in the form of volumes, poke the internal DNS server uses for service discovery, run apps that use arbitrary TCP/UDP ports (even a DNS server!), connect to your internal network over WireGuard, ssh into your containers, and import Heroku apps into without having to rebuild them. This is what the Dogwood stack should have been. This represents a generational leap in the capabilities of what a Platform as a Service can do.

The stream VOD in the footer of this post contains my first impressions using to try and deploy an app written with Deno to the cloud. I ended up creating a terrible CRUD app on stream using SQLite that worked perfectly beyond expectations. I was able to restart the app and my SQLite database didn't get blown away. I could easily imagine myself combining something like litestream into my docker images to automate offsite backups of SQLite databases like this. It was magical.

Mara is happy
<Mara> If you've never really used Heroku, for context each dyno has a mutable filesystem. However that filesystem gets blown away every time a dyno reboots. Having something that is mutable and persistent is mind-blowing.

Everything else you expect out of Heroku works like you'd expect in The only things I can see missing are automated Redis hosting by the platform (however this seems intentional as is generic enough to just run redis directly for you) and the marketplace. The marketplace being absent is super reasonable, seeing as Heroku's marketplace only really started existing as a result of them being the main game in town with all the mindshare. is a voice among a chorus, so it's understandable that it wouldn't have the same treatment.

Overall, I would rate as a worthy inheritor of Heroku's mantle as the platform as a service that is just magic. It Just Works™️. There was no fighting it at a platform level, it just worked. Give it a try.

Cadey is enby
<Cadey> Don't worry @tqbf, put in a good showing. I still wanna meet you at some conference.

This post was written live on Twitch. You can check out the stream recording on Twitch and on YouTube. If you are reading this in the first day or so of this post being published, you will need to watch it on Twitch.

This article was posted on M05 15 2022. Facts and circumstances may have changed since publication. Please contact me before jumping to conclusions if something seems wrong or unclear.

Tags: flyio heroku

The art for Mara was drawn by Selicre.

The art for Cadey was drawn by ArtZora Studios.

Some of the art for Aoi was drawn by @Sandra_Thomas01.