Deploy a Sample RSS Reader to App Platform

App Platform is a Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) offering that allows developers to publish code directly to DigitalOcean servers without worrying about the underlying infrastructure.

App-Platform allows you to deploy and host web applications and websites by pulling code directly from your repository service, such as GitHub. This tutorial’s purpose is to help familiarize you with how App Platform deploys multi-component applications from a repo service.

In this tutorial, you will:

  • Deploy a Django-based API backend for an RSS reader using App Platform
  • Configure the app’s backend API
  • Add a frontend React component that serves as the app’s UI


Step 1: Deploy RSS Reader API

To begin deploying the RSS reader app, you need to deploy its backend API first. The API receives user and RSS subscription information in the final app.

To start deploying the API from the DigitalOcean Control Panel, click Create and then select App Platform.

On the Create Resource From Source Code screen, select GitHub, then select the rss-reader-api repo that you forked into your GitHub account from the Repository menu (<username>/rss-reader-api). If this is your first time using App Platform with GitHub, GitHub prompts you to give DigitalOcean read access to the repository.

Leave the Branch selection as main and make sure Autodeploy is checked, then click Next.

Configure the API Component

App Platform detects the API and displays it as a component of the app on the Resources page. Here, you can configure various properties of the app and its container, including its resource size, run commands, and HTTP port.

The API component requires a custom name, a run command to build a temporary working directory, and an HTTP route for the API to listen on. To add these things, click the Edit button beside the component.

In the Name section, click Edit and enter the following name into the field:


In the Run Command section, enter the following command into the Run Command field:

gunicorn --worker-tmp-dir /dev/shm rss_reader.wsgi

In the HTTP Request Routes section, enter following route into the Routes field:


Once you have updated the app’s configuration, click the Back button.

Add Database

The app requires a PostgreSQL database to store RSS URLs and user credential information. To add a database, click Add Resource (Optional), select the Database option, and then click Add. On the Configure your database page, ensure the Dev Database option is selected and leave the name of the database as db. Then click Create and Attach.

This automatically adds a DATABASE_URL variable to the component’s configuration with the database connection string. The app uses the variable to connect to the database.

After adding the database, leave the rest of the options on their default settings and then click Next.

Configure Environment Variables

The RSS reader app requires environment variables to configure the app with its URI path information, the hostnames allowed to access the API, and whether the app runs in debug mode or not.

To add the necessary environment variables on the Environment page, click Edit beside the rss component and add the following keys and values to their respective fields.


The ${APP_DOMAIN} value is a bindable placeholder variable that provides the component with the app’s public URL information.

Once you have entered the variables, click Save and then click Next.

Deploy the API and Database Components

On the Info screen, you can change the app’s name, project, and region. Once you have reviewed these settings, click Next.

On the Review screen, review the app’s configuration and then click Create Resources.

The app begins to deploy onto DigitalOcean and a progress bar appears at the top of the app’s dashboard screen.

Step 2: Configure the RSS App API

Once the app has deployed, set up the tables in the app’s database that store the user credentials you will use to access the app and the RSS feed subscription information that you will input into it. We have provided a Python script in the app that migrates the necessary tables into the database.

To migrate the necessary tables into the app’s database, click the Console tab from the app’s dashboard. The console connects you to the app environment’s command line where you can further configure it.

To migrate the necessary tables into the database, run:

python migrate

The script applies several updates to the app’s database.

After the tables have migrated, you can verify that they migrated correctly by logging in to the database and listing the tables using the PostgreSQL shell. To do this, run the following command in the console:

python dbshell

Once logged in to the database cluster, the command prompt changes to db=>. To verify that the database tables migrated correctly, run the following command to connect to the db database:

\c db

Then run:


The command returns a list of tables in the db database like this:

List of relations
Schema |            Name            | Type  | Owner 
public | auth_group                 | table | db
public | auth_group_permissions     | table | db
public | auth_permission            | table | db
public | auth_user                  | table | db
public | auth_user_groups           | table | db
public | auth_user_user_permissions | table | db
public | authtoken_token            | table | db
public | django_admin_log           | table | db
public | django_content_type        | table | db
public | django_migrations          | table | db
public | django_session             | table | db
public | rss_category               | table | db
public | rss_rssfeed                | table | db
public | rss_rssfeed_categories     | table | db
(14 rows)

Run \q to exit the database prompt and return to the app’s command line.

Next, create a super user that you can log in to the app with. From the command prompt, run the Python script again with the createsuperuser argument:

python createsuperuser

The app prompts you for your email address and to create a new password.

Once you’ve created a super user, you can verify the API component’s configuration by logging in to it with the username and password you created. To log in to the API component, click the app’s URL at the top of the dashboard and then add /admin to the end of the URL path. The final URL should look like this: https://<default-app-url>.app/api/admin

This opens the app’s administration page.

The app's login page with user fields filled out

On the administration page, enter the super user credentials you created in the prior step, then click Log In. A rough, text-version of the app loads in your browser.

A rough text version of the app in-browser

Step 3: Deploy Front End Component

On App Platform, you can add and deploy additional components of your app at anytime. The next steps outline how to add a React static website that connects to the API component you deployed in the previous section.

To deploy the static site from the app’s dashboard page in the control panel, click the blue Create button and then select Create Resources From Source Code.

On the Create Resource From Source Code page, click GitHub, then select the <your-username>/rss-reader-frontend repository from the Repository menu. Leave the branch field as master, then click Next.

On the Resources page, click Edit beside the rss-reader-frontend component. On the component’s settings page, change the name of the component to:


Then change the Resource Type to Static Site and update the HTTP Request Routes field to:


These changes deploy the site as a static site and place it at the root of the subdomain provided to the app.

Once you’ve changed and saved the settings, click Back and then click Next to review the app’s environment variables.

The Configure your static site page with the applicable fields filled out

On the Environment screen, click Edit beside the frontend component and then add a variable called REACT_APP_API_URL with a value of ${rss.PUBLIC_URL}. Once you’ve saved the variable, click Next.

On the Review screen, review the component’s configuration and then click Create Resources. The app deploys with the new component.

Step 4: Verify that the Site Works

Once the static site has finished deploying, verify that it works by clicking the app’s URL at the top of the dashboard.

Complete RSS app in browser at login screen

On the login page, log in to the RSS reader using the user credentials you created in Step 2.

Once logged in to the app, click the SUBSCRIBE button and paste an RSS feed (such as DigitalOcean’s blog RSS feed into the Add a Feed field, then click SUBSCRIBE.

A link to the RSS feed appears on the app’s home page. Click the link to view an RSS feed from the URL you specified.

Complete RSS app in browser with DigitalOcean RSS feed displayed


In this tutorial, you:

  • Deployed a backend API with a PostgreSQL database onto App Platform.
  • Imported tables into the database to receive, store, and send data.
  • Configured environment variables to connect a frontend UI to the backend API.
  • Deployed the frontend UI to App Platform.

Any changes you commit and push to your repository trigger a new deployment.

While this RSS reader app is a rudimentary example and your app may have a broader scope, the deployment process remains relatively the same as the steps taken in this tutorial.

What’s Next?

Once you have deployed the RSS reader app and used it, you can delete the application or deploy other sample applications.