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Deploy Your Application Using Ember-cli and Gulp

Manual deployments can be time consuming and tedious. You spend your days building and/or fixing your Ember.js application, only to get bogged down in the details of deployments at the end. Uploading each file through FTP takes time, and making sure caching doesn’t cause issues shouldn’t be something you have to worry about.

The Solution


Ember-cli can greatly reduce the amount of effort you need building your application. It also can become essential in automating your deployments. If you aren’t using ember-cli for your next project, you might want to consider it.


Gulp.js is a fantastic scripting automation tool (similar to Grunt). We can easily build tasks that make your life easier. What’s not to love!?

If you haven’t used Gulp before, you can begin by installing it.
npm install -g gulp

Let’s start by looking into the gulpfile.js, where the majority of the work is.

var fs = require('fs');

var gulp = require('gulp');
var shell = require('gulp-shell');
var s3 = require('gulp-s3');
var gzip = require('gulp-gzip');
var sftp = require('gulp-sftp');

// Build the project using ember-cli
gulp.task('build', shell.task([
  'ember build --environment production'

// Deploy all the assets to Amazon S3
gulp.task('deploy:assets', function() {
  var aws = JSON.parse(fs.readFileSync('./aws.json'));
  var options = { headers: {'Cache-Control': 'max-age=315360000, no-transform, public'} }

  return gulp.src('./dist/**')
    .pipe(s3(aws, options));

// Deploy the index.html file to a server of your choice
gulp.task('deploy:index', function() {
  return gulp.src('./dist/index.html')
        host: 'example.com',
        user: 'deploy',
        pass: '<deploy-password>',
        remotePath: '/var/www/example.com/'

// Combine all these tasks into the deploy task
gulp.task('deploy', ['build', 'deploy:assets', 'deploy:index']);

// Default task will only build ember-cli
gulp.task('default', ['build']);

Make sure to install all the dependencies. You can use the --save-dev option to add them to your project for future use.

There is a lot going on there. Let’s start with the build task. This one is simple. It runs the ember-cli build method under the production environment.

The deploy:assets task grabs the compiled files, gzips them, and uploads them to a bucket on S3. The credentials and bucket information are stored in the file aws.json.

  "key": "<AWS_KEY>",
  "secret": "<AWS_SECRET>",
  "bucket": "bucket-name",
  "region": "us-east-1"

The deploy:index task grabs only the index.html file and uploads it to a server of your choosing through SSH. Additional options for gulp-sftp might work better for you. I generally use the agent option.

That’s all there is for the Gulp side of things. Let’s move onto making sure the asset compilation is ready for S3.

var app = new EmberApp({
  fingerprint: {
    prepend: 'https://s3.amazonaws.com/<bucket-name>/'

Ember-cli by default fingerprints all your assets when compiled for production. This takes care of any caching issues when you deploy. The prepend parameter allows you to have your assets hosted on a separate host. In our case this is S3, but could easily be a CDN like CloudFront.


In my case, I choose to use Nginx to serve up the index.html file. This allows me to have clean URLs and is quite basic. There are many additional options that could be used to host the index file, but I’ll assume Nginx for sake of this tutorial.

server {
  listen 80;
  server_name example.com;
  root /var/www/example.com/;
  location / {
     index  index.html;
     try_files $uri $uri/ /index.html?/$request_uri;


Whew! At first glance, this may appear complicated, but over time you will easily get back your up-front investment. Each deployment will take seconds instead of minutes. It also reduces the risk of human errors.

Source Files: Github Gist


Because I’m generally never satisfied with my solutions, I’m always thinking of better ideas. Right now I’d like to see a way to roll back easily, or even choose which deployment is active, which would be useful for testing the application after deployment. This could even be broken into a separate task so you can deploy, test the deploy, then activate it for public consumption.

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