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Deploy Serverless to Vercel

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Caution

We do not recommend deploying Blitz to Vercel. Vercel is a platform optimized for frontend deployments, not fullstack. While you can deploy to Vercel, most people run into too many issues and give up. Direct SQL database connections are one of the biggest issues. You have to pay for a very expensive database to support any amount of scale.

Serverless Peculiarities for SQL Databases

There are three main issues when it comes to using SQL databases in a serverless environment:

Problem 1: Separate Locations for App and Database

Because Vercel doesn't provide databases, you will use a separate platform for your database. And therefore people accidentally deploy their app to a different region than their database.

Solution: Deploy your app and database to the same region. By default Vercel apps are deployed to Washington D.C., so your database should be as close as possible to that.

Problem 2: Idle Connections

Ideally you will set up your database client and database connection outside your API handler (this is the default setup in Blitz apps). This optimizes performance because subsequent requests to the same lambda already have an active database connection.

However, this can result in a large number of idle connections, larger than what your database can support. For reference, the lowest database tier on Digital Ocean has a limit of 22 connections.

Solution: Use a connection pool in front of your database. PgBouncer is the most popular connection pool for PostgreSQL. Both Digital Ocean and Heroku have a feature to simply add PgBouncer.

Problem 3: Database Throughput

PgBouncer for PostgreSQL is advertised as allowing you to have 5,000-10,000 active database connections, but it's critical to understand that those are idle connections. PgBouncer does not increase your core database capacity. If your database has a max of 22 connections, then you can only have 22 simultaneous transactions, regardless of whether you have PgBouncer in front of it or not.

Solution: Increase your database size to meet the traffic needs for your app. But be aware this can become very expensive.

Note: Slow database transactions will greatly decrease your throughput. If it seems you are running out of connections before you should, based on your app traffic, then turn on logging for your database queries and look for long transactions.

Databases to Consider

  1. PostgreSQL + PgBouncer
  2. PlanetScaleDB - This is MySQL but seems to have solved the connection limit issue for serverless environments

Guide for Using Digital Ocean with Vercel

This assumes your Blitz app is already set up for Postgres. If it's not, first follow these instructions

This also assumes you already have a Vercel account.

  1. You need a production Postgres database. It's straightforward to set this up on Digital Ocean.
    1. It's extremely important that you choose the DB location to be in the same region as your Vercel deployment. By default Vercel deployments are in Washington D.C., so you should choose the closest Digital Ocean location which is New York City.
  2. You also need a connection pool. This is also relatively straightforward to set up on Digital Ocean.
    1. Read the Digital Ocean docs on setting up your connection pool
    2. Ensure you set your "Pool Mode" to be "Transaction"
  3. You need your entire database connection string. If you need, read the Prisma docs on this.
    1. Make sure you get the connection string to your connection pool, not directly to the DB.
    2. If using PgBouncer (default connection pool on Digital Ocean), you must add &pgbouncer=true to the end of your connection string for Prisma to work correctly.
  4. Change your build script in package.json to be NODE_ENV=production blitz build && blitz prisma migrate deploy so that the production DB will be migrated on each deploy
  5. Add your DB url as a secret environment variable using the UI or by running vercel env add DATABASE_URL
  6. Add your SESSION_SECRET_KEY environment variable (It needs to be 32 characters long)
    • On macOS and Linux, you can generate it by running openssl rand -hex 16 in your terminal.
  7. Run git push if using the Git Integration or vercel if using Vercel CLI

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