Biff comes with a script ( for setting up an Ubuntu server. It's been tested on DigitalOcean. You can 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. Here's a DigitalOcean referral link that'll give you $200 of credit.
  2. (Optional) If this is an important application, you may want to set up a managed Postgres instance and edit config.env 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.env and set DOMAIN to the domain you'd like to use for your app. For now we'll assume you're using (If you haven't run clj -M:dev dev yet, config.env won't exist. You can create it with clj -M:dev generate-config.)
  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. If your default git branch is main instead of master, you'll also need to edit :biff.tasks/deploy-cmd in resources/config.edn.

Now you can deploy your application any time by committing your code and then running clj -M:dev deploy. Run clj -M:dev logs to make sure the deploy was successful.

Your code and config 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.env and target/resources/public/css/main.css—see :biff.tasks/deploy-untracked-files in resources/config.edn). 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 clj -M:dev 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 via the clj -M:dev prod-dev task. 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_PROFILE environment variable to worker. Then use #profile {:worker ... in resources/config.edn to specify worker-specific configuration, and modify your application code to run as a web server or worker depending on the runtime configuration.

Alternative deployment options

You can use the provided Dockerfile to build a container for your app or use clj -M:dev uberjar to build an Uberjar. Deploying the container/Uberjar is up to you. However you deploy, make sure that the contents of config.env are included in the environment, or make sure that config.env is in the working directory at runtime.

Have a question? Join the #biff channel on Clojurians Slack, or ask on GitHub.

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