Today I had the brainwave to move 'to the future'. To throw away the old FTP upload shenanigans and move to a new shiny Node.js, Dokku, DocPad and DigitalOcean setup. Swish 'ey - I know, get me.

This would mean I would get all the awesomeness of Node.js, it would be super-easy to deploy updates and I can have multiple Node.js apps 'easily'. A no-brainer right?!

So I set about moving everything, you are looking at the result right now!

Below is the culmination of my journey. I hope it helps others overcome a few hiccups I came across, and as always, let me know if you need any further help (@matt_hojo / Also; special thanks goes out to Robin Hawkes for some of his magical fixes.

 Getting Started

  1. Signup for DigitalOcean (my referral link).
  2. Create a Dokku Droplet. Digital Ocean provide nice instructions for this (you only really need steps 1 & 2).

Super-easy, now it gets a little more technical.

Note: Throughout these instructions I reference This should be replaced for the domain that is pointing to your DigitalOcean Droplet.

 The nitty-gritty

Now you are all setup with a new shiny Dokku server, everything should be ready, but hold-your-horses. I had a few problems with the next step.

So 'by-the-book' you should now just be able to push up your Docpad project and everything will work as expected. Unfortunately, it's not quite that easy! You will need to follow a few more steps to be 'deploy' ready.

Upgrading Dokku and NPM

To upgrade your Dokku install run the following commands in your Terminal (via Dokku docs);

cd ~/dokku  
git pull origin master  
sudo make install  

Note: I had some problems with the above instructions regarding Git conflicts. To resolve these, you simply need to Git reset the ~/dokku folder - don't worry, we will be re-setting the settings anyway!

cd ~/dokku  
git fetch --all  
git reset --hard origin/master  
git pull origin master  
sudo make install  

After upgrading Dokku, you will then need to upgrade to the latest version of Node.js and npm. This is all bundled inside the buildstep install, so to upgrade you can do the following (via Dokku docs);

git clone  
cd buildstep  
git pull origin master  
sudo make build  

This will have upgraded everything, now it's time to set all the settings back up.

 Setting the settings back up

To re-set your Dokku Public Key, simply run the following command from your Terminal;

cat ~/.ssh/ | ssh "sudo sshcommand acl-add dokku personal"  

 Setting up DocPad

I won't go into too much detail with the actual DocPad site building as they have some brilliant documentation already over at

Once you have setup everything in DocPad and you feel you are ready to 'deploy', it's time to move onto the next stage.


There is not too much preparation before we 'push up' everything, but we need to do a little for Dokku.

So the next thing you need to do is create a Procfile in the root of your project, the contents should read;

web: node_modules/docpad/bin/docpad-server

This will simply tell Dokku what to do once you have 'deployed' - this above line runs DocPad.


You should now be all set for 'deployment'!

In your DocPad project run the following;

git remote add dokku  

This will add a dokku 'remote' to your Git setup.

Note: The double is so the project is the root Dokku app. Other apps just need a name and not a domain name. E.g git remote add dokku will be accessible via See ref.

Now your are ready to 'deploy' - congratulations!

git push dokku master  

Now for every change you make to your project, simply commit the changes and 'deploy' the changes with git push dokku master. Simples.

If you have any any further questions feel free to ping me at @matt_hojo, or


Back in the days, son. We did FTP deployments

— Origin. Julian Fischer via Robin Hawkes