Deploy with Git on fortrabbit

Learn how to get your code up and running with a simple git push.

Git ready

We assume that you have: Git installed locally and know the basics. We further assume that you know about access methods here on fortrabbit, so either have your SSH keys installed or your Dashboard password handy.


Each fortrabbit App comes with its own Git repo. Note that this repo is not located on the App's web storage itself, but on a separate deployment Node. Set your App's Git URL as a Git remote in your local Git working copy. To deploy just push your code to that remote's main branch.

Terminal or GUI

We usually use Terminal commands to explain things, since those are standard. If you prefer a GUI-oriented solution, check out the recommendations over at the official git website.

Simple Git deployment workflow

On the terminal this will look similar to this:

# 1. Clone the (empty) repository
$ git clone {{ssh-user}}@deploy.{{region}}{{app-name}}.git

# 2. Go to the app-name folder
$ cd {{app-name}}

# 3. Do stuff
$ echo '<?php echo "PHPower to the PHPeople";' >index.php

# 4. Initialize Git locally
$ git add index.php

# 5. Commit changes
$ git commit -am 'Initial commit'

# 6. Push
$ git push 

After the first deployment is done, the traced files from the Git repo will be synced into the App's web space so that you can worship your work in the browser: {{app-name}}

Next time you want to send changes to your App, you will have to add new or changed files and subsequently do a git-push:

$ git add new-file.txt
$ git add index.php
$ git commit -m 'new version'
$ git push

Adding fortrabbit as a remote

# Using Git already? Add fortrabbit as an additional remote:
$ git remote add fortrabbit {{ssh-user}}@deploy.{{region}}{{app-name}}.git

# Then define you want to push fortrabbit like so
$ git push -u origin fortrabbit

Resetting the remote repo

To start with a complete new Git history, you can now reset your repository. This can be done with the reset command like so:

# Reset the remote repo (delete remote Git repo & vendor folder):
$ ssh {{ssh-user}}@deploy.{{region}} reset

The reset operation is non-destructive, meaning: It does not generate a release. Thereby your live App continues to operate without any interruption. The new release will only be built on the next push (of your new code base).

Git with a GUI or IDE

You can also use a graphical interface like SourceTree, Tower and so on - see the official list of Git GUIs – or an IDE like PhpStorm or Eclipse to manage Git. You'll need these access credentials:

  • SSH clone URL: {{ssh-user}}@deploy.{{region}}{{app-name}}
  • SSH password: {{ssh-password}}

Advanced usage

Still reading? Dig deeper!

Git deployment vs Universal Apps

Universal Apps have persistent storage, which you can access via SSH or SFTP. It further means that runtime data, like user uploads, are persistent and will not be removed upon Git push.

To make sure nothing is deleted, all git deployments to Universal Apps follow an overwrite but not delete strategy which is thoroughly explained in the deployment methods article.

Behind the scenes

┌─────────┐             ┌──────────┐             ┌───────────┐
│         │             │          │             │           │
│   You   ├──Git push───▶ Git repo ├───deploy────▶    App    │
│         │             │          │             │           │
└─────────┘             └──────────┘             └───────────┘

Your git push updates the Git remote on fortrabbit and triggers the build of a new release package. This new release package will then be distributed to all the Nodes your App runs on. All files on the Nodes will then be replaced by the ones contained in the release package. Check out this video to understand the flow.

The branch name that counts

You can use / create as many branches as you want and push them to the fortrabbit remote repository. However there are only three branches which will be deployed: the main branch, the master branch and a branch which has the same name as your App. If your App is named your-app then a branch named your-app will be preferred over the master and main branches.

The branch priority goes like this: appname > master > main.

So if you have previously pushed a master branch, and then push a main branch later, the master branch will take priority and still be the one that is built and deployed. To switch to using the main branch instead, you have to reset the repository and then push only the main branch. Beware that when you reset the repository all branches will be deleted! Make sure you have local backups of any feature branches or other branches.

ssh {{ssh-user}}@deploy.{{region}} reset
git push --set-upstream fortrabbit main

You can also use other branches as "transport" branches to interchange code with other developers / locations without publishing it to your web space. Once your code is ready to deploy, just merge it in the master, main (or your App's name like: async) branch and push it.

Deployment file

Fine tune deployment configurations with the fortrabbit.yml deployment file: control the way Composer runs, define pre- & post-deploy scripts and more. You can find a full example here.


Composer install will always run after a successful git push - as long as both composer.json and composer.lock are present. Read on here.

Private Git/Composer repos

You can also include your own private Composer repository as described here.

Large Git repos

A bloated Git repository slows down deployment. You might even hit our limits. In most cases the repo can and should be much smaller.

Large files

We don't actively enforce a single file limit, but you should not put big binary files (> 2 MB) into your Git repo.

In general we also advise not to put assets and most importantly images or even videos in Git. Some images that belong to your website layout, like your company logo (a small SVG) are ok. But when you have a lot of images in Git, odds are that this is bad practice.

For almost all cases, your uploaded content images (.jpg, .png, .gif) do not belong in Git. Remember that the Git repo and the web-space are different things here at fortrabbit, Git is a one-way street here. The next user upload will not be in Git anyways. It's a good practice to separate code from content for many reasons. So we advise to deploy user uploads, static assets and other runtime data separate from the core code deployment done with Git. With Universal Stack you can use SFTP/SSH or rsync for this. With the Professional Stack you'll manage those assets on the Object Storage anyways.

The hidden .git folder

Git never forgets. It can bring back any content from any file, even deleted ones. To do so, it stores all the stuff in the hidden .git folder at the top level of the repo. Over time that file can get big too. It can also contain unreachable blobs and other stuff you are not aware of. Depending on the situation, there are many ways to clean this up: delete files of a certain type, delete the history before a certain date, or even start again from the current state.

Deployment release package

The release package is a gzipped archive which contains: the App's Git repository + vendor folder + all files generated by pre- or post-deployment scripts. In short: compressed size of ~/htdocs.

To keep deployment fast for everyone the size of the release package is limited. You can find out the release package size locally by packaging the local copy of your App, including the vendor folder and anything else generated by your build scripts:

$ tar -zcf my-project.tar.gz {{app-name}}
$ ls -lh {{app-name}}.tar.gz

Code revision file

In your deployment there is a hidden file called .code-revision. It's located at /srv/app/{{app-name}}/.code-revision. and is getting renewed each time you deploy with Git. It includes the Unix Timestamp of the last Git deployment and the hash of the latest commit, separated by a dot. This what the content looks like:


There are various advanced use cases. Hook that file into your deployment cycle to:

  • check whether the correct commit has been deployed
  • use the timestamp to bust static assets like JS and CSS

Integrating with GitHub & Bitbucket

We don't have any fancy GitHub/Bitbucket integrations (yet). But it is easily possible to combine your fortrabbit repo with GitHub and Bitbucket.

Git submodules

Git submodules are NOT supported. We recommend to use Git subtrees instead. See this post from Atlassian.

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