This is a guest blog post from Charles Ouellet of Snipcart. Charles is a co-founder and lead engineer at Snipcart, a solution empowering developers to turn any website into a customizable e-commerce platform. He likes code, scotch, and colourful socks. You can follow him on Twitter.
When we launched our developer-centric e-commerce platform, finding a premium cloud-based continuous integration solution was a top priority. We used Jenkins at first, and, while we liked it, we were also looking forward to handling those operations directly in the cloud. For months, we kept our eyes and ears opened, searching for such a solution as we kept developing our product and growing our business.
A few months ago, I stumbled upon AppVeyor while exploring the Tweetosphere one night. Upon skimming through their home page and documentation, I quickly realized this was exactly what our team and product needed. Since Snipcart’s API is built on top of ASP.NET Web API, we needed to find a web-based solution that was supporting .NET. And that’s exactly what I found that night with AppVeyor.
The day after that, we spent maybe an hour setting it up, and it worked like a real charm.
How we use AppVeyor exactly for our Snipcart application
One of AppVeyor’s killer feature is that it gives you the ability to configure your whole build with a YAML file. This allows us to have the build configuration in our source control, making it very easy to maintain.
Like I mentioned earlier, our web application is an ASP.NET Web API. Once the build is completed and all our tests have passed (yep, AppVeyor supports running unit tests too!), we deploy our application to our Azure web apps via WebDeploy. The build process and the deployment process are all configured in the YAML file. We just push to our
production git branch, and it triggers a build and a deployment.
Once it’s deployed, Azure takes care of spawning multiple instances when needed.
Our worker is a Cloud Service hosted on Azure. Once the build is completed, it is automatically deployed by AppVeyor as well, which supports a wide range of deployment processes, including Cloud Services. Before making the switch to AppVeyor, this was a pain for us because our developers needed to deploy the worker through Visual Studio directly; it wasn’t automated, which could have led to errors.
We also have unit tests for these two applications; we run those in AppVeyor as well, using a gulp task.
snipcart.js file and our custom web fonts.
On top of the storage, we are also using KeyCDN. We have a pull zone that fetches the content of our Blob storage. KeyCDN takes care of the caching and everything needed to make sure our static files are served as fast as possible. We discuss it further in this blog post.
When we make changes to
snipcart.js or to any other static file that is cached by the CDN, we need to invalidate the cache. If we don’t, customers would need to hit refresh multiple times, which would not make any sense. With AppVeyor, we make an HTTP request to the KeyCDN API to purge our cache zone after the Blob storage has been updated. By doing so, we are sure our customers always have the latest version of our static files.
Conclusion? We friggin’ love AppVeyor
Since we automated everything with AppVeyor, we are much more confident with our deployments. Sometimes, we even start a build and go play a few ping pong games at the office while it deploys. We know it’ll just work. With our solid test suite in place, we trust AppVeyor won’t deploy something that is broken.
As I finish writing this post, I realize that I don’t see how we could work without this amazing tool today. It’s a crucial part of our product development process.