Review - Heroku: Up and Running by Neil Middleton and Richard Schneeman; O'Reilly Media

25 Aug '13

A behind the scenes look at Heroku

“Heroku: Up and Running” is a behind the scenes look at the inner workings and rationale behind the Heroku Platform as a Service (PaaS). The authors, both web developers currently working at Heroku, explain the architecture of Heroku and walk the reader through some of the pitfalls of getting a web application up and running on Heroku while pointing out clever features along the way.

I really enjoyed the first two chapters - “What is Heroku?” and “How Heroku Works” - the authors give a really interesting overview of the architecture and use their perspective from inside the company to motivate some of Heroku’s design choices. The following chapters discuss performance and scaling, Heroku’s implementation of postgres and some aspects of deploying web applications. Although I’m not a real web developer, I learned a few things from this book. The little section on setting up DNS records was great and some of the background on scaling was new to me!

This short book is an easy read and provides some insight into this cool web service. “Up and Running” isn’t a walkthrough for setting up a basic web application on Heroku. Rather, the book points out features from Heroku to address the day-to-day problems of web developers in an abstract way without providing a lot of code examples and screenshots. I got the feeling that the authors are leaving the “getting started” stuff for Heroku’s documentation website while this book is about the meaning behind features not just how to use them.