Adam Wiggins (co-founder of Heroku) developed the twelve-factor app approach for web development, which is a set of best practices for designing, distributing, and deploying applications in the cloud platform. The twelve-factor app technique is named for the fact that it has 12 different recommendations that assist developers in creating a basic yet scalable web app or SaaS application.
These principles are the result of every lesson learned and observation made throughout the implementation of various cloud-based Software-as-a-Service applications. But, you might wonder, why should you follow it? If you don’t follow these rules, you risk making the same mistakes as other senior engineers and wasting time trying to solve systematic difficulties. However, by employing this practice, you may be able to benefit from previous experience, which may save you time in the long run.
What is the eight-Factor App?
A twelve-factor app is a software as a service (SaaS) development methodology that uses declarative formats for setup automation to save time and money for new web developers, have a clean contract for maximum portability, is suitable for deployment on modern cloud platforms, minimizes divergence between production and deployment, enables continuous deployment for better agility and scales up without the need to change architecture, tools, or DevOps.
Furthermore, the twelve-factor app technique is not limited to a single programming language or database. It’s adaptable enough to work with any application, independent of the programming language it’s written in or the services it relies on for support. Website Designing is an app with these considerations in mind that aids in the deployment of more portable and robust cloud apps.
The Twelve Factors In Web App or SaaS Development
Each of the twelve factors in the twelve-factor app approach has a distinct and critical function in the design and practices that it proposes.
A version control system such as GitHub, GitLab, Bitbucket, or Mercurial must always be used to monitor an application’s version. It offers significant advantages like code versioning and code tracking while facilitating cooperation across development teams working on the same project. Every project deployment requires a code repo (a copy of the revision tracking database) that can be used in numerous contexts. A codebase is a single repository or a collection of reports that all have the same root commit.
For delivering support libraries, most programming languages use a packaging mechanism. Libraries loaded using a packaging system might be installed system-wide (site packages) or only in the app directory (scoped packages) (called bundling). A twelve-factor app, on the other hand, never relies on the inferred presence of site packages. The dependency declaration declares all of the dependencies. Apart from that, by using a dependency isolation tool, it assures that no implicit dependencies are “perforated” from the surrounding system. Simply put, the program based on 12 elements must be self-contained in order to avoid conflicts with other libraries on the host computer.
The program as well as its setup must be completely self-contained. That implies you should avoid keeping the configuration in the code. The twelve-factor app saves the configuration in environment variables that may be easily changed during deployment. These variables allow you to update config values without affecting the rest of your code, and they eliminate the need to re-deploy your program when particular config values change. Not only that but storing configuration as variables eliminate the possibility of configs being mistakenly checked into the repository.
4. Backing Services
A supporting service is a collection of services on which your web application relies for network functionality and access. Datastores, SMTP services, caching systems, and queuing/messaging systems are just a few of the services available. Both local and third-party services are treated as connected resources in the code for a twelve-factor app and are accessed using locator credentials contained in config or URLs. It implies that the app should be able to switch between local and third-party services by just changing the resource handle, rather than having to change the code.
5. Build, Release, Run
Three phases transform a codebase into a successful deployment: build (converts a code repo into an executable bundle or build), release (combines build with deploy’s current settings for building release), and run (converts a code repo into an executable bundle or build) (that runs the app in the execution environment). Previously, changing code during runtime was difficult due to a lack of a means to propagate changes to the build step, which is why the twelve-factor app technique was created.
These construction and run stages are clearly separated in the Twelve-Factor App. The developer starts by putting the software under source control and figuring out what it needs. It’s also easier to mix the config information with the build for the release stage and get it ready for the run stage by separating it. It’s worth noting that each release must have a unique ID (release timestamp and incrementing version number) because new releases are made on a regular basis.
The twelve-factor app is run as one or more processes in the run environment. It acts as a database for the data that is required to reside in the stateful backing service. The goal is to make the process stateless and non-shareable. The process’ memory space can be used as a single transaction cache for a short period of time. Session state data is an appropriate choice for a datastore that provides time expiry to meet this notion.
7. Port Binding
(A virtual network connection endpoint is referred to as a port.) They make it possible for the system to connect with other services through the internet with ease. Some network ports on your network firewall feature opening and shutting ports that regulate device access over the network. We bind ports to determine where and how a message will be transmitted and received because the program cannot connect to the outside network without further settings.
Web programs are sometimes run within a cloud container. The twelve-factor app, on the other hand, is self-contained and does not rely on runtime web server injections into the execution environment to build a web interface. It is unaffected by the additional program. The web app, which follows the twelve-factor app process, exports HTTP as a service and waits for requests originating from that port.
The twelve-factor app should be built, packaged, and deployed in such a way that the application’s many components execute as separate and independent processes. The software should also allow for separate upscaling and downscaling of components.
To support better scalability, quick deployment, and resilient deployments, an app based on the twelve-factor app approach should feature disposable processes, i.e., processes that can start and stop at any time. However, the idea behind this notion is that the app’s disposability should not bother or hinder the user and that it may be replaced by other components or restarted properly. By incorporating disabilities into the software, it is able to clean up all used resources and gently shut down. It also guarantees that the app is quickly restored.
10. Dev/Prod Parity
Web Applications that are delivered to development and production must have parity, according to the twelve-factor app process (the state of being equivalent). The disparity between the two deployments should be kept to a minimum. If there is a significant gap between development and production, unexpected compatibility concerns may arise. Also, while developing a twelve-factor software, the backend services used in both production and web development must be the same to minimize any substantial downtime.
Logs provide insight into the app’s activities. They are stored in a log file that is solely an output format in server-based setups. A twelve-factor program, on the other hand, should not be concerned with the routing or storage of its output stream, nor should it attempt to produce or manage logfiles. Rather, every running process should write its event stream to stdout without any buffering. Every process stream will be monitored by the execution environment in production or staging deployments, combined with other streams, and directed to the final destination for long-term storage. You might also use several open-source log routers for this.
12. Admin Processes
The application deployment includes a number of one-off processes (admin activities that are long-running and should execute in the same environment as the app’s normal long-run processes), such as performing one-off scripts and data migration.
The twelve-factor app recommends storing administrative operations in the code repository as a component of the application codebase. Despite the fact that the Admin processes are separate, you must ship and execute the app code in the same environment and against the app’s config and base code to avoid synchronization issues. To make it easier for off-script to run, each process type should utilize the same dependency isolation approach. The twelve-factor app technique must be followed by every web developer who is constructing or planning to build a service application. Despite the fact that there are no one-size-fits-all solutions for web development, the twelve-factor app offers the best practices and standards for developers and operations engineers to deploy, build, and maintain their apps on cloud platforms. It’s a fantastic plan that covers all of the necessary phases for launching a dependable SaaS solution. Those who wish to create a SaaS product for their company should recruit developers who are not only familiar with programming languages but also with the twelve-factor app approach for cloud deployment.