Ryan Alyn Porter

Web and mobile software developer

Rapid Web Site Creation and Deployment With Appleseed


Appleseed provides a generator for creating a new web site project with Rails 3, adding things like HAML and Compass to the new project, creating a Git repository for the new project, pushing that repository to GitHub, and then deploying the site to Heroku. All with one command.

This utility is designed to assist graphic designers in rapidly creating new web sites, for high-volume web shops. A graphic designer can create a site, push the code to GitHub, and deploy the site to Heroku without the assistance of a developer. Then a developer can easily join the project to build out the back-end and assist the graphic designer with the front-end.

Here is an example GitHub project that Appleseed generated, and here is the Heroku web application for that example project. Note the example layout, default home page, and Blueprint styling provided by Compass.


Step 1: Install Appleseed

Open a Terminal window and copy the following command into the window:

gem install appleseed

Step 2: Generate Web Application Project

In that same terminal, go to your local projects folder:

cd \~/projects

Then generate a new project by giving Appleseed the name of your new project:

appleseed my-new-rails-app

Appleseed will create the following:

  • A Rails 3 web application project in \~/projects/my-new-rails-app
  • A GitHub repository at git@github.com:[you]/my-new-rails-app.git
  • A Heroku app at http://my-new-rails-app.heroku.com

== Step 3: Run The Web Site

Your new web application is already running on Heroku. But for you to make changes, you’ll have to be able to run the web site on your local computer. You might want to open a new tab in your Terminal window for the server. Then change to the new project folder in your Terminal window:

cd \~/projects/my-new-rails-app

Then run the Rails server with:

rails server

Then go to http://localhost:3000 in a web browser, and you should see your new web site.

Step 4: Make Changes

After you make changes to your web site project, use these Terminal commands to push the changes to GitHub and Heroku:

git add .
git commit -m "Update."
git push github master git push heroku master

If the “git push” operation produces an error, then it probably means that somebody else has made a change to the same web site and you need to merge your update with their update before you can push your update. Do this:

git pull github master

Then after Git pulls the other person’s update and merges it with your update, proceed with the git push github master, above.

If Git reports that there has been a conflict, then commit the conflict and push it to GitHub, but do NOT push to Heroku:

git add .
git commit -m "Conflict."
git push github master

Step 5: Deploy Your Changes

Deploying your web site after you make changes is really easy. Just push to the “heroku” remote:

git push heroku master

Step 6: Goto Step 4

Repeat until the money runs out.

Final Product

Appleseed generates a web application that’s more than just the default generated Rails 3 template. Instead of just a default working Rails application, you also get a default (“root”) controller and a root route to a home page. You get a layout based on HAML, and the Blueprint CSS framework provided by Compass. You get the RSpec and Cucumber testing frameworks and sample tests. The final product is ready for new HTML/CSS files and images from graphic designers.

The final product does NOT contain any database models, or an administrative back-end. It only includes a default controller so that graphic designers can easily add HTML files.



You can use the --no-github option to tell Appleseed NOT to create a new project at GitHub.


You can use the --no-heroku option to tell Appleseed NOT to deploy your new web application to Heroku.


By default, the default template will be applied to the new project. You can tell Appleseed to use your own custom template with the --template option. For example:

appleseed --template \~/templates/my-template.txt new-web-application

A simple way to customize the Rails template that Appleseed uses is to fork the Appleseed project on GitHub and then edit the lib/appleseed/generator.rb file to use your forked project’s default template URL instead of http://github.com/endymion/appleseed/raw/master/templates/default.rb.



  • Git
  • Ruby

Ruby Gems

  • Rails (“gem install rails”)
  • Heroku (“gem install heroku”)

GitHub Account

You will need an account at GitHu. Set up your GitHub name and email on your local computer. Then also set up your GitHub user and API token on your local computer. Then make sure that you have an SSH key set up and added to your GitHub account.

Heroku Account

You will also need an account at Heroku. Install the Heroku gem and then use “heroku keys:add” to link your local computer to your Heroku account.


Once you have the above prerequisites, install Appleseed with gem install appleseed. Now you’re ready to generate web sites!



Copyright (c) 2010 Ryan Alyn Porter. See LICENSE for details.

Appleseed logo by Jessie Angles.