Biff comes with a script ( for setting up an Ubuntu server. It's been tested on DigitalOcean. You can of course deploy Biff anywhere that can run a JVM—but if you're happy with the defaults then you can simply follow these steps (for example screenshots, see the tutorial):

  1. Create an Ubuntu VPS in e.g. DigitalOcean. Give it at least 1GB of memory.
  2. (Optional) If this is an important application, you may want to set up a managed Postgres instance and edit config.edn to use that for XTDB's storage backend instead of the filesystem. With the default standalone topology, you'll need to handle backups yourself, and you can't use more than one server.
  3. Edit config.edn and set :biff.tasks/server to the domain you'd like to use for your app. For now we'll assume you're using Also update :biff/base-url. If you use main instead of master as your default branch, update :biff.tasks/deploy-cmd.
  4. Set an A record on that points to your Ubuntu server.
  5. Make sure you can ssh into the server, then run scp
  6. Run ssh, then bash After it finishes, run reboot.
  7. (Optional) On your local machine, run git remote add prod ssh:// This is required if you don't have rsync installed.

Now you can deploy your application any time by committing your code and then running bb deploy. Run bb logs to make sure the deploy was successful.

Your code and config files will be uploaded with rsync if it's available. However, git ls-files will still be used to decide which files to upload, so files won't be uploaded unless they're checked into git (with the exception of config.edn and secrets.env, which are always uploaded). If rsync isn't installed, files will be uploaded with git push.

If you need to make changes to the server (e.g. perhaps you need to install an additional package), be sure to update so you can always easily provision a new server from scratch.

Monitoring and alerting

Besides using bb logs, Papertrail is cheap, easy to set up, and useful for alerts. For example, it can send you an email whenever your application logs include the text Exception.

DigitalOcean provides uptime checks which are useful if e.g. your application fails to start.

Developing in prod

After you've deployed the first time, you can continue developing the production system while it's running. You'll need to install fswatch. (sudo apt install fswatch on Ubuntu, brew install fswatch on Mac.) Then run bb prod-dev. Whenever you save a file, it'll get copied to the server and evaluated.


If you need a dedicated worker(s), you can create a modified version of which sets the BIFF_ENV environment variable to worker. Then add a :worker configuration section to config.edn and modify your application code to run as a web server or worker depending on the runtime configuration.

Container-based deployment

Instructions and code for deploying with Docker are on the roadmap. In the mean time, a first take on a Dockerfile is available here.

Have a question? Join the forum or the #biff channel on Clojurians Slack.

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