Build an app with Rails and React - Deploying to Heroku and GitHub Pages

This is the fourth post of a series of four where I’ll show the main steps I followed to build Flashcards, a single page app that will help users study and learn any subject they want through spaced repetition.

The back-end is a Rails app that will store the information provided by the users. We’ll deploy it to Heroku. The front-end is built with React, a JavaScript library for user interfaces. We’ll deploy it to GitHub Pages.

Deploying to Heroku

Let’s install the Heroku CLI with Homebrew to deploy from the command line:

$ brew install heroku

We’ll log in using our credentials:

$ heroku login
Enter your Heroku credentials.
Password (typing will be hidden):
Authentication successful.

Since our app is built with Rails it comes with a file with the following content, so we don’t have to create it:


require_relative 'config/environment'

run Rails.application

From our app directory we’ll create a Heroku app in the cloud:

$ heroku create flashcards-server
Creating app... done, ⬢ flashcards-server |

If we don’t specify a name for our app, Heroku will assign a random one that can be changed later.

We can check our remotes by typing git remote -v:

$ git remote -v
heroku (fetch)
heroku (push)

Now let’s push our changes to that remote so that they are deployed:

$ git push heroku master

Remember to run migrations every time we deploy new changes:

$ heroku run rake db:migrate && heroku restart

If you remember, when we were dealing with user authentication, we were working with environment variables. Now we need to set them up in Heroku for our deployed app. We can do it from the Heroku dashboard, or from our command line (notice that we don’t enter spaces around the = sign):


$ heroku config:set GITHUB_ACCESS_TOKEN_URL=""
$ heroku config:set GITHUB_USER_INFO_URL=""

$ heroku config:set FLASHCARDS_CLIENT_URL=""

We can check the value for all our config variables by typing:

$ heroku config

Our server is live and up in the cloud! ☁️

Deploying to GitHub Pages

Since we have separated our app into front-end and back-end, we’ll deploy them to different hosts. Our client will be hosted on GitHub Pages.

If we run the command npm run build in our project directory, it’ll suggest we specify the homepage of our app in our package.json.

If we run npm run build again, we’ll be asked to install gh-pages:

$ npm install --save-dev gh-pages

Finally, we’ll add a deploy task to our package.json that builds all assets (JavaScript and CSS bundles), and deploys them.

  "name": "flashcards-client",
  "version": "0.1.0",
  "private": true,
  "homepage": "",
  "devDependencies": {
    "gh-pages": "^0.12.0",
    "react-scripts": "0.8.4"
  "dependencies": {
    "react": "^15.4.1",
    "react-dom": "^15.4.1"
  "scripts": {
    "start": "react-scripts start",
    "build": "react-scripts build",
    "deploy": "npm run build && gh-pages -d build",
    "test": "react-scripts test --env=jsdom",
    "eject": "react-scripts eject"

Now we can deploy our app by running:

$ npm run deploy

If we access we’ll see the app. Great success! 🙆

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