How to Deploy a Node.js App on Railway

A brief guide to deploying a Node.js app on Railway.

In this post, we'll walk through the steps to deploy a Node.js app on Railway.

What is Node.js?

Node.js (sometimes referred to as NodeJS) is an open-source, event-driven JavaScript runtime environment, frequently used to build server-side web applications. It is built on top of the Google Chrome V8 JavaScript engine, making it extremely fast and efficient for real-time data-intensive applications. It also has a large and active developer community, with plenty of modules and libraries for easy integration and extensibility.

What is Railway?

Railway is a modern app hosting platform that makes it easy to deploy production-ready apps quickly. Railway offers persistent database services for PostgreSQL, MySQL, MongoDB, and Redis, as well as application services with a GitHub repository as the deployment source. For the latter, Railway can automatically determine the application runtime and deploy the service. Railway offers several one-click starters for popular applications, including Node.js. Since we are just testing the waters, Railway's free tier should be sufficient to host the service.


Deploy a Simple Node.js App on Railway

Sign up for an account with Railway using GitHub, and click Authorize Railway App when redirected. Review and agree to Railway's Terms of Service and Fair Use Policy if prompted. Launch the Node.js one-click starter template (or click the button below) to deploy a Node.js app instantly on Railway.

Deploy on Railway

You'll be given an opportunity to change the default repository name and set it private, if you'd like. Accept the defaults and click Deploy; the deployment will kick off immediately.

Deploy Node.js one-click template on Railway
Deploy Node.js one-click template on Railway

Once the deployment completes, a simple Node.js app will be available at a default domain - launch this URL to access the app. If you are interested in setting up a custom domain, I covered it at length in a previous post - see the final section here.

If you want to modify the app, here's a few things to understand first:

  • The index.js file only covers the default / route, which returns a simple Hello World output. To extend this, you'll need something like the Express web application framework - see an example here.
  • The package.json defines the project metadata, scripts and dependencies. Update accordingly if you add other packages.
  • The app will listen on port 3000 by default; update the PORT environment variable to change the default port.

In conclusion, deploying a Node.js app on Railway is a straightforward process, made even easier by the one-click template. Go forth and deploy!

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