[Proposal] Make application configuration easier

David Humphrey david.humphrey at senecacollege.ca
Mon Jun 2 15:42:43 PDT 2014


I wonder if habitat needs to get taught to be more verbose in dev 
situations?  It could tell you exactly what it's doing on app startup.

Dave

On 14-06-02 6:38 PM, Kate Hudson wrote:
> The reason I bring up debugging specifically referencing staging/prod 
> environments is that I really feel it should be possible for me/others 
> who are not Jon and JP should ideally be able to debug config issues 
> if both/either of them are away
>
> - K
>
> On Jun 2, 2014, at 6:02 PM, Kate Hudson <kate at mozillafoundation.org 
> <mailto:kate at mozillafoundation.org>> wrote:
>
>> This sounds really good. As long as docs exist for this and we do 
>> some thinking about how resolving bugs will work I think it would 
>> definitely be an improvement on our process.
>>
>> I would love to see us think about the debugging/error resolution 
>> process for common pitfalls in this system, such as:
>>
>> - How do we debug/see which files actually get loaded, and in what order?
>> - What if our secret files on s3 contain a legacy env variable? Would 
>> it overwrite the committed environment files? How would we know?
>> - Do we still have env.sample (probably not)?
>> - What if we want to /unset/ certain env variables (e.g. DEV) that 
>> are defined in default files
>>
>> - Kate
>>
>> On Jun 2, 2014, at 5:38 PM, Jon Buckley <jon at mozillafoundation.org 
>> <mailto:jon at mozillafoundation.org>> wrote:
>>
>>> Here's something that really gets my goat: app configuration
>>>
>>> 1) When you install an application initially, you need to copy the 
>>> config file from the defaults to one that you can use with `cp 
>>> env.dist .env`.
>>> 2) When you pull down updates from git, and something doesn't work, 
>>> you need to copy the config file from defaults again which blows 
>>> away your changes, or you need to pick through the change log and 
>>> apply the changes manually.
>>> 3) Configuration only via process env (e.g. heroku) is tedious 
>>> because there are so many env variables.
>>> 4) When you make a change to the staging or production configs, 
>>> there is absolutely no visibility into who changed what, when, or 
>>> why. This has broken services for us more than once.
>>> 5) If you're doing a deploy that requires a config change at the 
>>> same time as a code change, you'll need JP or I to co-ordinate that.
>>>
>>> Therefore a better application configuration solution should:
>>> 1) Work out of the box
>>> 2) Work when pulling down updates
>>> 3) Work with process.env
>>> 4) Be version controlled, preferably using git
>>> 5) Doesn't require devops to co-ordinate a simultaneous code + 
>>> config deploy
>>>
>>> My preferred solution is the following:
>>> - Modify habitat to support loading multiple environment files in a 
>>> specific order: https://github.com/brianloveswords/habitat/pull/11
>>> - Add multiple configuration files to each applications repository - 
>>> staging.env, production.env, defaults.env
>>> - Code application to support loading from these new locations in order:
>>>  - process environment
>>>  - .env
>>>  - NODE_ENV.env (so staging.env or production.env)
>>>  - defaults.env
>>> - Document this workflow in each app as "MAINTENANCE.md" or 
>>> something similar.
>>>
>>> The new workflow when landing a ticket that changes the application 
>>> configuration somehow would be to also make changes to staging.env 
>>> and production.env in the same patch. For secrets that cannot be 
>>> made public we will continue our current process of putting secrets 
>>> into a config file on S3.
>>>
>>> Thoughts?
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