Heroku Review Apps vs. Shipyard

Migrating out of the Heroku ecosystem? You’ll probably miss the convenience and ease of Heroku Review Apps. Don’t worry – Shipyard has you covered.

Comparing Heroku Review Apps to Shipyard ephemeral environments

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So your team has migrated off of Heroku. Things are going great now that you’ve onboarded with your new cloud provider, except something’s missing… Heroku Review Apps. This feature is a huge asset when using Heroku, however that’s the catch — once you make the switch off of Heroku, you lose your Review Apps. Instead of going to the trouble of building out on-demand pre-production infrastructure, there’s a tool for this: Shipyard. Shipyard’s primary focus as an Ephemeral Environment Management Platform is to make preview environments as efficient, shareable, and secure as possible.

What are Heroku Review Apps?

Heroku Review Apps are full-stack, pre-production copies of your application that you can test against or share with your team prior to a deployment. They take the code changes you make at the pull-request level and build disposable, short-lived, shareable environments with unique URLs.

Heroku Review Apps fulfill a few of the traits essential to an effective preview environment solution:

  • Rapidly-available on-demand environments: environments spin up on code changes and are fully isolated (immune to blocks)
  • Secure and shareable: send links and grant access to team members and stakeholders
  • Enable feedback and collaboration: multiple team members can iterate on a single environment during code change and async
  • Enable integrations with third-party services (CI/CD): environments are modular and easy to leverage anywhere

Shipyard’s Ephemeral Environments vs. Heroku Review Apps

Heroku Review Apps have many of the same features that Shipyard offers, but there are a few key reasons that our users choose Shipyard:

  • Cost-effective: Shipyard’s environments are on when you need them, and off when you don’t
  • Easy to use: start deploying on-demand environments in minutes with no additional config
  • Adaptable: integrates with your existing SDLC and cloud

Review Apps are also only available to users in the Heroku ecosystem.

In short, Shipyard is a standalone, fully-featured preview environment solution, while Heroku Review Apps provide existing Heroku users with preview environments.

Below, we’ll compare these two solutions in a few key categories.

Cloud Costs

Shipyard reduces cloud costs with elastic computing. Our environments are designed to be short-lived, and are automatically spun down upon merge. Shipyard’s Since Last Visit (SLV) timeout can be set to spin down environments after a set amount of time has passed without visitors. This can fall in the range of anywhere from one minute to several days. This way, you’re only paying for your environments when you’re using them, and in turn saving about 70% on pre-production cloud costs.

Heroku will also automatically spin down review apps once corresponding PRs are merged. It also offers the ability to auto-retire apps after a user-set timeout of 1-30 days.

Deployment model

Shipyard environments are cloud-agnostic. We support all major cloud providers, including GCP, AWS, and Azure. Your ephemeral environments are detached from production, and thus do not share any resources. This is considered best-practice for environment security.

Heroku Review Apps are hosted on Heroku servers. It only makes sense to use Heroku Review Apps when you’re also deploying your production application on Heroku.

Git provider integration

Shipyard supports repos hosted on GitHub, GitLab, and Bitbucket. Environments are GitOps-enabled – they automatically update to reflect your latest code changes.

Heroku Review Apps integrate with GitHub and use your existing repo as a SSOT via GitOps.

GitHub GitLab Bitbucket
Heroku Review Apps

Setup + config

Shipyard’s ephemeral environments require no additional config, and take three clicks to set up:

  1. Add your repository and branches
  2. Select your services
  3. Add env vars and secrets

Read more on our Quickstart

Heroku Review Apps can be enabled for an existing Heroku Pipeline. You will define your application using the app.json schema, which will live in the root directory of your repo.

Access + permissions

Shipyard grants dashboard permissions at the org level within your git provider. This is done automatically: once a user signs up for a Shipyard account via git provider, they will have instant access to their org. Members of an org have access to the Shipyard developer dashboard and are able to create, configure, and manage applications. There is an SSO gate between the Shipyard dashboard and Shipyard ephemeral environments.

With Heroku Review Apps, access permissions are defined at the Heroku Team level: user access is granted through Heroku account roles (eg. admin, member), where each role dictates the level of access a given user will have.

Shipyard preview environments are automatically SSO-enabled. Through the developer dashboard, org members can set permissions for environment visitors, with the option to grant access via Google, GitHub, or GitLab SSO. Org members can toggle access at the individual visitor level at any point in time. Members can also grant access permissions to specific branches of an application.

Heroku Review Apps can be accessed by members who have app-specific access granted to their Heroku accounts.

CI/CD integration

You can leverage your Shipyard preview environments and your Heroku Review Apps with any and all CI/CD providers.

Shipyard has a GitHub Action and a CircleCI orb, so you can grab your Shipyard org’s API token and start testing against your ephemeral environments with limited config.

GitHub Actions CircleCI GitLab CI Azure DevOps Bitbucket Pipelines Jenkins
Heroku Review Apps

Quick recap

Shipyard’s ephemeral environments are a popular choice for pre-production testing and review. Heroku Review Apps offer similar functionality, with a few of Shipyard’s key features. If you’re migrating from Heroku, Shipyard is a fully-featured preview environment alternative that expands upon the features of Review Apps and works with any popular cloud provider.

  • Shipyard applications require limited onboarding, with three-click deployments
  • Shipyard supports repos hosted on GitHub, GitLab, and Bitbucket
  • Shipyard spins down dormant environments based on a user-set timeout
  • You can leverage Shipyard in any CI/CD pipeline
  • Shipyard gates your apps via team permissions and SSO

Want to learn more? Book a demo and learn how Shipyard can enable your org with on-demand environments on every pull request.


What is Shipyard?

Shipyard is the Ephemeral Environment Self-Service Platform.

Automated review environments on every pull request for Developers, Product, and QA teams.

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