Deploying to Heroku

It's possible to use PostGraphile on Heroku with either AWS RDS or Heroku Postgres.


We recommend using an Amazon RDS PostgreSQL database with Heroku since Heroku Postgres does not allow the issue of CREATE ROLE commands. (This can be worked around, see below.)

You should enable the force_ssl setting in RDS, and to ensure PostGraphile connects to RDS using SSL you need to add ?ssl=true to the connection string, e.g. heroku config:set DATABASE_URL="postgres://...rdshost.../db_name?ssl=true"

Heroku Postgres

It is also possible to use PostGraphile with Heroku Postgres too with a bit more setup (and money!).

  1. Create a database if not already. The database must be of the Standard-0 tier ($50/month) or higher, otherwise you will not be able to create additional credentials.
  2. Create credentials on for each Postgres role that you wish to use. For example, create a credential for postgraphile (which your app will use to log in with) and postgraphile_visitor (which PostGraphile should switch into for each request).
  3. Attach the postgraphile credential to your app, so that there should now be two credentials attached to your app (default and postgraphile).
  4. Use the POSTGRAPHILE environment variable instead of DATABASE_URL in your app's code to connect to Postgres with this credential.
  5. Don't forget to use SSL too (e.g. with the env var PGSSLMODE=require)!


Minimal setup, using PostGraphile CLI

  1. Create a project directory mkdir project_folder_name
  2. Go into that directory and initialise git: cd project_folder_name && git init
  3. Add postgraphile: yarn add postgraphile
  4. Commit everything: git add . && git commit -m "Initial commit"
  5. Add the heroku remote heroku git:remote -a heroku_app_name
  6. Configure Heroku to use the right url heroku config:set RDS_URL="postgres://user:[email protected]/dbname?ssl=true" -a heroku_app_name
  7. Create Procfile: echo 'web: postgraphile -c $RDS_URL --host --port $PORT' >> Procfile
  8. Deploy: git push heroku master

More detailed setup, using PostGraphile as a library

This walkthrough assumes you have a local git repository containing your project.

First, you need to create a Procfile file in the root of your repo, telling Heroku what to run:

web: yarn start

You may also want to ensure that your package.json contains a build script that builds your app (e.g. calling tsc if you're using TypeScript), and that you have engines defined to tell Heroku which version of Node to use:

  "scripts": {
    "build": "tsc",
    "start": "node server.js",
  "engines": {
    "node": "12.x"

Commit all this.

Once your database server is running and the database and relevant roles have been created, you need to do the following (note: many of these commands can instead be accomplished with the Heroku web interface):

You should see the build scrolling past; if it fails then you should be able to see why and address it. If it succeeds then your application should be available at https://<myappname>

For a more in-depth and automated setup, including instructions on configuring a job queue and sending emails, see the Deploying to Heroku instructions in Graphile Starter. (NOTE: at time of writing, Graphile Starter is under development and is only available to sponsors ─ reach out in Discord for early access.)


To delete the Heroku app:

heroku apps:destroy -a myappname