AWS Elastic Beanstalk... What the Walkthrough Failed to Mention

I’ve been pounding my head against the wall for the last week trying to get a handle on building Rails apps on AWS’s Elastic Beanstalk. In theory, its a pretty cool system… you can very easily spin up a Linux environment and deploy your code right from git, using a nice set of command line tools that were only mildly irritating to configure.

That’s the theory, anyway. After a week’s effort, I have yet to deploy even the most trivial Rails app (other than the Amazon sample app, which naturally works perfectly fine). You can read the entire saga at Stack Overflow, but the TL;DNR version is that, even though I have followed Amazon’s tutorial with the scrupulosity that is the very hallmark of my creed, I cannot get my own Rails app to run on Elastic Beanstalk. Thankfully, this problem has been confirmed by a couple of third parties, so I take comfort in the fact that I am not a total idiot.

As an experiment, I attempted to get a Node.js/Express app running on Elastic Beanstalk as well, following this tutorial. I was successful and found myself intrigued by the possibilities of express. I like MVC-ish frameworks with good package management and good community support, which is what was attractive about Rails… perhaps node and express could fit the bill as well.