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Deploy a Phoenix App with Mix Releases

This guide helps you deploy a Phoenix application packaged with Mix releases introduced in Elixir 1.9.

The finished code for this example is available at https://github.com/render-examples/phoenix_hello.

If you'd like to use Distillery, check out our guide to Phoenix Deployment with Distillery.

Getting Started

Create a new Phoenix app in the terminal. We don’t need a database for this example, so we’re passing the --no-ecto flag to mix.

mix archive.install hex phx_new
mix phx.new phoenix_hello --no-ecto # also fetch and install dependencies
cd phoenix_hello

Configure Mix Releases

Create runtime configuration needed for Mix releases.

  1. Rename config/prod.secret.exs to config/releases.exs.

  2. Change use Mix.Config in your new config/releases.exs file to import Config.

  3. Uncomment the following line in config/releases.exs:

    config :phoenix_hello, PhoenixHelloWeb.Endpoint, server: true # uncomment me!
  4. Finally, update config/prod.exs to delete the line import_config "prod.secret.exs" at the bottom.

If you’re migrating an existing app to Mix releases, make sure to update assets/package.json to use a version of node-sass compatible with Node 14 (the current LTS release):

  "devDependencies": {
    "node-sass": "^4.14.1",    ...

Create a Build Script

We need to run a series of commands to build our app on every push to our Git repo, and we can accomplish this with a build script. Create a script called build.sh at the root of your repo:

#!/usr/bin/env bash
# exit on error
set -o errexit

# Initial setup
mix deps.get --only prod
MIX_ENV=prod mix compile

# Compile assets
npm install --prefix ./assets
npm run deploy --prefix ./assets
mix phx.digest

# Build the release and overwrite the existing release directory
MIX_ENV=prod mix release --overwrite

Make sure the script is executable before checking it into Git:

chmod a+x build.sh

Update Your App for Render

Update config/prod.exs to change the highlighted line below.

config :phoenix_hello, PhoenixHelloWeb.Endpoint,
  url: [host: "example.com", port: 80],  cache_static_manifest: "priv/static/cache_manifest.json"

to this:

config :phoenix_hello, PhoenixHelloWeb.Endpoint,
  url: [host: System.get_env("RENDER_EXTERNAL_HOSTNAME") || "localhost", port: 80],  cache_static_manifest: "priv/static/cache_manifest.json"

Render populates RENDER_EXTERNAL_HOSTNAME for config/prod.exs.

If you add a custom domain to your Render app, don't forget to change the host to your new domain.

Build and Test Your Release Locally

Compile your release locally by running ./build.sh. The output should look like this:

* assembling phoenix_hello-0.1.0 on MIX_ENV=prod
* using config/releases.exs to configure the release at runtime
* skipping elixir.bat for windows (bin/elixir.bat not found in the Elixir installation)
* skipping iex.bat for windows (bin/iex.bat not found in the Elixir installation)

Release created at _build/prod/rel/phoenix_hello!

    # To start your system
    _build/prod/rel/phoenix_hello/bin/phoenix_hello start

Once the release is running:

    # To connect to it remotely
    _build/prod/rel/phoenix_hello/bin/phoenix_hello remote

    # To stop it gracefully (you may also send SIGINT/SIGTERM)
    _build/prod/rel/phoenix_hello/bin/phoenix_hello stop

To list all commands:


Test your release by running the following command and navigating to http://localhost:4000.

SECRET_KEY_BASE=`mix phx.gen.secret` _build/prod/rel/phoenix_hello/bin/phoenix_hello start

If everything looks good, push your changes to your repo. You can now deploy your app in production! 🎉

Deploy to Render

  1. Create a new Web Service on Render, and give Render permission to access your Phoenix repo.

  2. Set the following values during creation:

    Build Command./build.sh
    Start Command_build/prod/rel/phoenix_hello/bin/phoenix_hello start

    Also add the following environment variables to your web service:

    SECRET_KEY_BASEA sufficiently strong secret. Generate it locally by running mix phx.gen.secret

That’s it! Your Phoenix web service built with Mix releases will be live on your Render URL as soon as the build finishes.

Read about customizing Elixir and Erlang/OTP versions for your app.