Setting up Redis on Heroku for ExpressJS

By default, your express application will store session data in memory. That means if your server restarts all users will need to log back in. Additionally, this does not scale to more than one instance, leaks memory and does other mean things. While this works while developing your local computer (notice how you always need to log in after making a code change), you will want something better for production.

Heroku even warns you if you do this. Try running $ heroku logs --tail to see this.

Welcome Redis

Redis is an open source (BSD licensed), in-memory data structure store, used as a database, cache and message broker.

Step 1: Create the heroku add on

$ heroku addons:create heroku-redis:hobby-dev

This will create a REDIS_URL in the heroku config that you will use to connect. Use $ heroku config:get REDIS_URL to see this value.

Step 2: Download the connect-redis package for your project

$ npm install -s connect-redis

Step 3: Pass in express-session into connect-redis

Step 4: Create an instance of RedisStore as the store property of your session configuration

Note: your local computer probably does not have REDIS_URL set.

Step 5: Push to heroku and try your new session store

$ git push heroku master

How do you run your project locally now?

Option 1: default to memory session store locally

Check your NODE_ENV setting and if its not production we will default the store property to null.

Option 2: default to using a redis instance locally

Run these commands and connect to your instance directly.

Screen Shot 2019-04-07 at 2.51.07 PM.png

Gotcha Error: req.flash() requires sessions

If you try running your project locally, you will notice that your session store fails to initialize and things break – this happens since you likely do not have the REDIS_URL set.

Production ready: 

Note that redis on hobby dev will not allow SSL and to secure a production redis, you will need to pay for a production plan and add “stunnel” to your buildpack. (link)

Create an interactive terminal cli with node

Let’s create a tool that will track our some text entries.

Step 1: Create a new npm project and install the necessary libraries

$ mkdir my_cli && cd my_cli && npm init -y && npm i --save inquirer chalk

chalk – helps color the terminal prompts

inquirer – makes creating interactive prompts a breeze

Step 2: create interactive terminal prompts

Step 3: save or append to a file (did.txt)

Full code here

Sublime Text shortcut on command line (subl)

The Sublime Text documentation “OS X Command Line” references the command line tool, subl to work with files on the command line.

This allows you to open the entire current directory in sublime like this:

$ subl .

This allows you to open a specific file like this:

$ subl <file_name>

Note: The $ sign means this is run in your command line application.

subl is not available by default

Simply running $ subl is not immediately accessible when you download Sublime. Without symlink-ing the command, you will have to type the full path ​to the original subl

This is how you would use the full path to open a file.

$ /Applications/Sublime\ <file_name>

So lets create a symlink

The official docs ask you to target your symlink to ~bin/subl but it may be nicer to keep symlinks contained to existing “load paths” like usr/local/bin

What are your “load paths”? Find your current load paths by running this command:

$ echo $PATH

You will see all load paths including these default OS X paths:


How to create subl shortcut for Sublime Text

Run this command in your terminal:

ln -s /Applications/Sublime\ /usr/local/bin/subl

What happened?

ln means link, -s means we want a symbolic link

We will create a symlink at usr/local/bin/subl that will point to the original Sublime command. Deleting this link will have no effect on the original file.

How to publish an npm module

Step 0: You need some code to share.

Create a new Github repo or choose one you currently want to publish

Here is the command line argument to create a repo called “adder”

$ curl -u <your_username> -d "{\"name\": \"adder\"}"

Once you have chosen a Github repo clone it

Step 1: Create a proper package.json

The best way to do this is to run the npm init command

$ npm init

This will insure you have the required package.json file with name and version set.

Step 2: Publish

$ npm publish

If you are not logged in, you will need to run npm login

Thats it!

Step 3: Test your npm package

Double check your package information with $ npm info <package_name>

Alternatively, go to another repo and run $ npm install <package_name>

Congrats! Your code is out in the wild on the npm registry 🙂

Troubleshooting: Package name already exists

You might run into the issue where someone else has taken the name of your npm package. Note that you can set a different name on npm than your github repo. One option is get super creative with your npm package name and change the “name” key in package.json. Another option is to namespace your package to your username like this:

"name": @theptrk/express 

and then publishing this with the public flag

$ npm publish --access=public

What if I want to publish a new version?

npm will reject your package if you do not bump the version number. Use npm version and choose either major, minor, or patch. This is the example for patch

$ npm version {major, minor, patch}

$ npm publish

Express Sequelize Heroku Postgres Configuration Success

You are in flow developing on your local database and you decide to upload everything to heroku and share it with the world.

How do you configure your production database?

It’s easier than you think. Let’s assume you have already set up your site.

If you used the sequelize init command, you will have a file db/models/index.js that looks like this

Usually, your sequelize database will initialize with the usual database, username password, etc but in the special case that your config has use_env_variable, sequelize will recognize that an environment variable (usually representing a URI) can be used in place of the usual credentials.

What is your env/config variable?

Find your heroku config variables in the heroku website or by running $ heroku config. Note, config and env variables are used to reference the same settings here.

When you create a database on your heroku account, it will default a new configuration setting called “DATABASE_URL”

You can access this with process.env.DATABASE_URL in any of your node.js code (on production). Your local machine will have different environment variables set.

Step 1: Set use_env_variable

But set it to what? Set it what heroku designates as your database url, DATABASE_URL!

Thats it!

You may need to migrate your database if you aren’t using sync

Step 2: Migrate your database

Simply run the migrate command in the heroku environment with heroku run. This avoids any configuration errors of running from your local environment

$ heroku run ./node_modules/.bin/sequelize db:migrate --debug

Final config

Step 3: Check your database

Run the heroku psql command and run the “list tables” command.

$ heroku psql

$<app_name>::DATABASE=> \dt

Possible Errors

Error: no pg_hba.conf entry for host…, SSL OFF

Add the ssl setting into dialectOptions of your config.json

Error: The server does not support SSL connections

This may be an outdated error. But previously, users who tried to migrate on their local computer would run into this error.

$ NODE_ENV=production DATABASEURL=$(heroku config:get DATABASE_URL) ./node_modules/.bin/sequelize db:migrate

This will not work correctly unless you set up your local computer to support ssl in the migration. You could get a certificate and configure your sequelize config to use that BUT theres an easier way.

ERROR: SequelizeConnectionRefusedError: connect ECONNREFUSED

It’s quite possible you forgot to push your code to heroku. Make sure you git push heroku master!!!

Node Sequelize Postgres Tutorial


Sometimes you want your team to use an ORM. Often you need to run migrations. Sequelize provides ORM features and a much needed migrations library that allows us to create producible and version controlled database schemas.


Step 1: Create your npm project

$ npm init

Step 2: Install the packages

$ npm install --save sequelize sequelize-cli pg pg-hstore

Step 3: Create a new database

Lets create a local database (this depends on your target). If you have postgres installed use:

$ createdb user-demo-db

Step 4: Initialize your sequelize directories

$ node_modules/.bin/sequelize init

Now what? Using Sequelize

We can either create our database tables with the psql shell using raw queries or we can use sequelize to manage our database.

In this article we will use sequelize and if we do, we now have two options: 1. Using sync or 2. Using migrations.

In most tutorials you will see code using sync() or even sync({force: true}). This is completely fine in a test database as it will completely overwrite changes you make in your “model” files.

We will use migrations for one big reason. Migrations will create “migration files” for all database changes where we can get valuable source controlled information.

Step 5 : Create your first model by generating your first migration files

Here we are creating a new model by generating both the initial model file AND the migration file for a sample model User with some attributes firstName;lastName;email

* Note: we are using the singular “User” and not the plural “Users”. This will be an ORM convention that you will need to get used to.

$ node_modules/.bin/sequelize model:generate --name User --attributes firstName:string,lastName:string,email:string

Look inside your new model file: 

It should export a new “model” using sequelize.define("User", ...) with the attributes that you specified in the command line arguments.

* Note that the default id field is INTEGER and not something cool like UUID, its your code now, you can change this.

Look inside your new migration file:

It should use the  queryInterface function  createTable('User', ...) with attributes that you specified in the command line arguments plus three fields that sequelize will add to every table id, createdAt and updatedAt

* One thing that is key to note is that by default you table name is pluralized

Step 6: Run the migration

Before you run this migration, you may change the migration/model file to edit your attributes.

$ node_modules/.bin/sequelize db:migrate

Sequelize will create a SequelizeMeta table in your database to keep track of which migrations have been run. That also means you can create many other models before running this command and it will run all not-yet-run migrations

Check your migration

After you run your migration you can check your table status with psql shell or pgadmin

$ psql user-demo-db

psql> \d "Users" <- note the “s”; note the double quotes 

Get used to this pattern, you will use this a lot.

(Optional) Create an instance of your model – User

Note that we use the singular User instead of the Users from the actual table

node> var models = require('./db/models')

node> models.create.User({

  firstName: "John", lastName: "Doe", email: ""})

Step 7: How to create a 1:Many (1:M) relationship

Lets create a model called Task that can only have one User. 1(User):Many(Tasks).

Create your migration files and migrate your database to add the new table

$ node_modules/.bin/sequelize model:generate --name task --attributes body:string,done:boolean

$ node_modules/.bin/sequelize db:migrate

Now we will need to associate the Task to the User in some way.

According to the docs we need to run Task.belongsTo(User)

However if we add this to the db/models/Task.js file in the associate function, our file now fails to load correctly when accessing db/models within the node shell. We can open up our node shell and do this manually.

node> const models = require('./db/models')

node> models.Task.belongsTo(models.User)

What happened?

BelongsTo associations are associations where the foreign key for the one-to-one relation exists on the source model.

– docs

We ran the code <source>.belongsTo(<target>) with having the appropriate “foreign key” on our source model (Our Task model is missing the column UserId). Instead of undoing our migration, this is a perfect time to learn how to do a database migration.

Step 8: Fix our 1:M relationship

This time we only need the migration file, and not the model generated file.

$ node_modules/.bin/sequelize migration:generate --name add_userid_to_task

Adding a foreign key field to a model – Task

We want to create a new column UserId on our Task model/table that represents a foreign key relationship. The docs explain that all we need is a references key with the correct values

Your migration file will look something like this: code

return queryInterface.addColumn(
  SOURCE_TABLE_NAME,  // "Tasks"
    type: Sequelize.INTEGER,
    reference: {
      model: TARGET_TABLE_NAME, // "Users"
      key: "id"
    onDelete: 'cascade

Important Notes:

  • we have to match the type of the target field (“integer” in our case above, “UUID” if you wanted to create an advanced User model)
  • Your source “table” name is likely the plural version of your “model” name. You can get the model name with node> require('../models')[model_name].getTableName()
  • Your target field name should be “title-case” based on sequelize convention, so if you’re targeting id on User, your target field name is UserId

Step 9: Remember to migrate your database!

$ node_modules/.bin/sequelize db:migrate



Code: Sample

Docs: Sequelize Docs

Blog Post: How to configure sequelize with heroku

Blog Post: How to define Sequelize associations using migrations

How does sequelize pluralize?

If you use .sync with sequlize and have a model name like User, your database ends up with a table called Users. More clearly, when you use the sequelize-cli model generator the generated file will show this pluralized table. Here is the code: (link)

What is Utils

* Note Sequelize has a directory called Utils AND a file at lib/utils.js.

What’s in lib/util.js?


We find the function! This is how sequelize defines utils.pluralize link

Util.pluralize IS inflection.pluralize

This is how its tested 

What is inflection?

Inflection is a port of Ruby on Rails Active Support Inflection classes into JavaScript built by DreamersLab in Taipei. (link)

So how does sequelize/inflection pluralize?

Inflection seems to have rules based on:

Eventually, inflection takes these rules, uses RegExp and applies them to your string. Theres a bunch of rules and at the end theres this

The common rule that is the exhausted else or case default rule that targets the end of the string with $. No rules for that singular term? Add an s

Postgres timestamp with timezone – “timestamptz”

Postgres can store your timestamp WITH or WITHOUT timezone.
If you don’t specify either, it will default to “timestamp without timezone”

Which one should you use? TLDR: “timestamps with time zones”

Whats the problem living life without timezones?

Say you have two users in two different timezones – one in California and one in France. Imagine you may need to know which one acted “first”, maybe in an auction or draft scenario where the whoever acts first wins.

Without specifying timezone, your database will save the plain timestamp of each user, say “midnight” and “midnight”. How will you know which one acted first?

You could save the original timezone from the user and perform the necessary algebra when needed.

Solution – Use “timestamp with time zone” otherwise known as “timestamptz” 

For timestamp with time zone, the internally stored value is always in UTC (Universal Coordinated Time, traditionally known as Greenwich Mean Time, GMT). An input value that has an explicit time zone specified is converted to UTC using the appropriate offset for that time zone. If no time zone is stated in the input string, then it is assumed to be in the time zone indicated by the system’s TimeZone parameter, and is converted to UTC using the offset for the timezone zone.

Postgres docs

This bears repeating: 

“For timestamp with time zone, the internally stored value is always in UTC.”

A proper name for this might be timestamp saved as UTC by default. By saving everything in the “same” timezone, we know the absolute time of the timestamps.

This brings up the main UX concern: What do users see?

Your users want to read data from the database using their preferred timezone.

(If they added a blog post at 3:00pm PST, they want to see the timestamp as 3:00pm not, )

Dates are saved as UTC so you will eventually need to convert the time

Converting on the server:

Best practice is to save the users’ preferred timezone as a name (e.g. America/Los_Angeles). This way your query or ORM can convert the date according to user preference.

Remember, timezones offsets are affected by political actions. A timezones actual hour offset can change depending on whether the timezone recognizes daylight savings time or just simply when the political “owners” of the timezone decide to CHANGE the offset. Read The Long, Painful History of Time for more info.

Converting on the browser:

Many browsers have default timezones that can be used by passing in your date to new Date. You can also, simply use moment.js to parse the dates on the client to show the correctly formatted date string for your purpose.

What about user input?

User input should always be converted to UTC. Many functions already return UTC by default such as  new Date() in Browser JavaScript and node.



PostgreSQL Data Types: Date, Timestamp, and Time Zones

Detecting the time zone from the browser: 

Using CAShapeLayer to draw a circle

UIViews are like Ogres, which are like onions – they have layers.

Source: Documentation

More accurately, UIView has a single layer property that can have infinite sublayers.

UIView’s have layers

Lets draw a circle.

First create a UIView and a CAShapeLayer:

let myView = UIView()

let myLayer = CAShapeLayer()

Layers have a path

UIBezierPath makes drawing shapes extremely smooth, lets say in the shape of a circle:

let circlePath = UIBezierPath(
  arcCenter: CGPoint(x: 100.0, y: 100.0),
  radius: 100,
  startAngle: 0 * CGFloat.pi / 180,
  endAngle: 360 * CGFloat.pi / 180,
  clockwise: true)

Great! Now we can add CAShapeLayer as a CGPath and spruce up our fill and stroke colors

myLayer.path = circlePath.cgPath
myLayer.strokeColor =
myLayer.fillColor = UIColor.yellow.cgColor

Last step! Add this layer to your UIView


Layers have attributes

strokeColor,fillColor, opacity, lineWidth and more!

Bonus: Layers can animate attributes

// create the animation
let opacityAnimation = CABasicAnimation(
  keyPath: #keyPath(CALayer.opacity))
opacityAnimation.fromValue = 0
opacityAnimation.toValue = 1
opacityAnimation.duration = 5.0

// set the final value; add the animation
myLayer.opacity = 1
myLayer.add(opacityAnimation, forKey: #keyPath(CALayer.opacity))