Deploy a Node Express Application to Production

June 22, 2021

Édouard Bonlieu

Édouard Bonlieu


In this guide, we will explain how to deploy a Node.js Express application to production. We will write a simple Node.js API using the Express framework, see how to Dockerize the application, version it on GitHub, and create a GitHub Actions workflow to perform the CI/CD and deploy the application on Koyeb each time you push changes on a specific branch.

By deploying the Node app on Koyeb, you benefit from native autoscaling, automatic HTTPS (SSL), auto-healing, and global load-balancing across our edge network with zero configuration.


To successfully follow and complete this guide, you need:


To deploy a Node Express Application to Production, you need to follow these steps:

  1. Create a simple Node.js API using the Express app or use an existing one
  2. Write the Dockerfile and build the Docker image
  3. Push the Docker image to the GitHub container registry
  4. Deploy the Dockerized Node.js app on Koyeb
  5. Automate deployment with GitHub Actions

Create a simple Node.js API using the Express framework application or use an existing one

If you already have an existing Node.js application you want to dockerize, you can jump to the next step.

Create a new directory to store our Node.js application:

mkdir node-express cd node-express

The next step is to create and initialize the package.json file. The package.json contains various metadata and gives npm information to identify the project, handles the project's dependencies, etc.

In your terminal run the following command and complete as below:

$npm init This utility will walk you through creating a package.json file. It only covers the most common items, and tries to guess sensible defaults. See `npm help init` for definitive documentation on these fields and exactly what they do. Use `npm install <pkg>` afterwards to install a package and save it as a dependency in the package.json file. Press ^C at any time to quit. package name: (node-express) version: (1.0.0) description: A simple Node.js with Express framework application entry point: (index.js) app.js test command: git repository: keywords: author: license: (ISC) About to write to /Users/koyeb/demo/node-express/package.json: { "name": "node-express", "version": "1.0.0", "description": "", "main": "app.js", "scripts": { "test": "echo \"Error: no test specified\" && exit 1" }, "author": "", "license": "ISC" } Is this OK? (yes)

As our application uses the Express framework, we need to add it as a dependency of our project. In your terminal, run:

npm install express --save

The project environment ready, we can now start writing our application. In this guide, we create a basic application that will return the port and git commit id the application is using on requests received to the root URL /. All other routes will respond with a 404 error.

Create and open a file named app.js and copy the content below:

const express = require('express') const app = express() const port = process.env.PORT || 3000 app.get('/', (req, res) => { res.json({ commit_id: process.env.COMMIT_ID || 'unknown', port }) }) app.listen(port, () => { console.log(`App listening at http://localhost:${port}`) })

Launch the app running node app.js and request the / endpoint running:

curl http://localhost:3000/ {"commit_id":"unknown","port":3000}

The Node app responds with the port the application is listening to "3000" and commit_id set at "unknown" for the moment.

Write the Dockerfile and build the Docker image

To Dockerize our Node.js app, you need to create a Dockerfile in your project folder containing the content below.

FROM node:lts as runner WORKDIR /node-express ENV NODE_ENV production ARG COMMIT_ID ENV COMMIT_ID=${COMMIT_ID} COPY . . RUN npm ci --only=production EXPOSE 3000 CMD ["node", "app.js"]

To build and properly tag the Docker image execute the following command:

docker build . -t<YOUR_GITHUB_USERNAME>/node-express:prod

Once the build is over, you can run a container using the image locally to validate everything is working as expected running:

docker run -p 3000:3000<YOUR_GITHUB_USERNAME>/node-express:prod

As in the previous step, you can perform a curl request to ensure the app is running as expected:

$curl http://localhost:3000/ {"commit_id":"unknown","port":3000}

Push the Docker image to the GitHub container registry

With our image built, we can now push it to the GitHub container registry. We will then use this image to deploy the application on Koyeb.

docker push<YOUR_GITHUB_USERNAME>/node-express:prod

Within a few minutes, you will see your Docker image available on the GitHub container registry:<YOUR_GITHUB_USERNAME>?tab=packages.

Deploy the Dockerized Node.js app on Koyeb

To deploy our dockerized Node.js application on Koyeb, start by creating a Koyeb Secret to store your Github container registry configuration. Replace <REPLACE_ME_WITH_GH_USERNAME> with your GitHub username and <REPLACE_ME_WITH_GH_TOKEN> with a valid GitHub token having registry read/write permissions and execute the command below.

echo \ '{ "auths": { "": { "username": "<REPLACE_ME_WITH_GH_USERNAME>", "password": "<REPLACE_ME_WITH_GH_TOKEN>" } } }' | koyeb secrets create gh-registry-credentials

We can now deploy the Node.js application on Koyeb Serverless Platform running:

koyeb app init node-express --docker "<REPLACE_ME_WITH_GH_USERNAME>/node-express:prod" --ports 3000:http --routes /:3000 --docker-private-registry-secret gh-registry-credentials

Within a few minutes, your application will be live and accessible at https://node-express-<REPLACE_ME_WITH_GH_USERNAME>

Automate deployment with GitHub Actions

In the previous steps, we discovered how to dockerize and deploy a Node.js application on Koyeb.

In this section, we will see how to automate the deployment of ou application each time a change is pushed to the branch main of your repository using GitHub Actions.

In your git repository, create a folder to store our GitHub Actions workflow:

mkdir -p .github/workflows cd .github/workflows

Create a new file named workflow.yaml inside the directory we created in the previous step and paste the snippet below:

name: CI on: push: branches: - main env: GHCR_TOKEN: ${{ secrets.GHCR_TOKEN }} jobs: build-push: runs-on: ubuntu-latest steps: - name: Checkout uses: actions/checkout@v2 - name: Seed env run: | echo $GITHUB_SHA | awk '{ printf "SHORT_SHA1=%.7s\n", $1 }' >> $GITHUB_ENV basename $GITHUB_REF | awk '{ printf "BRANCH_NAME=%s\n", $1 }' >> $GITHUB_ENV - name: Docker build run: docker build --rm=false --build-arg COMMIT_ID=$GITHUB_SHA -t<YOUR_GITHUB_USERNAME>/node-express:prod . # REPLACE <YOUR_GITHUB_USERNAME> with your GitHub username. - name: Docker login run: echo $GHCR_TOKEN | docker login -u <YOUR_GITHUB_USERNAME> --password-stdin # REPLACE <YOUR_GITHUB_USERNAME> with your GitHub username. - name: Docker push run: docker push<YOUR_GITHUB_USERNAME>/node-express:prod # REPLACE <YOUR_GITHUB_USERNAME> with your GitHub username. - name: Deploy on Koyeb uses: koyeb-community/koyeb-actions@v2 with: api_token: "${{ secrets.KOYEB_TOKEN }}" - run: koyeb services redeploy --app=node-express node-express

In your GitHub repository settings, click Secrets in the left-side menu and create new secrets:

  • GHCR_TOKEN containing a valid GitHub token having registry read/write permissions to push the image to the registry.
  • KOYEB_TOKEN containing a valid Koyeb token to redeploy the application.

Commit and push your GitHub actions workflow, your GitHub Actions workflow is being executed. Each time a change is pushed on the main branch, a Docker image is built and push to the GitHub registry with the tag prod. Once the image pushed, a new deployment is triggered and deployed on the Koyeb Serverless platform.


In this guide, we explained how to containerize a Node.js application and deploy it on Koyeb. We created a GitHub Actions workflow to build and deploy the application each time a change occurs. By deploying on Koyeb, your application is secured with native TLS encryption and benefits from all the Koyeb Serverless features including autoscaling, auto-healing, and a high-performance edge network.

If you have any questions or suggestions to improve this guide, feel free to reach out to us on Slack.

Welcome to Koyeb

Koyeb is a developer-friendly serverless platform to deploy any apps globally.

Start for free
Start for free, pay as you grow

Deploy 2 services for free and enjoy our predictable pricing as you grow

Deploy your first app in no time

Get up and running in 5 minutes