12 Factor App

The Twelve-Factor App

In the modern era, software is commonly delivered as a service: called web apps, or software-as-a-service. The twelve-factor app is a methodology for building software-as-a-service apps that:

  • Use declarative formats for setup automation, to minimize time and cost for new developers joining the project;
  • Have a clean contract with the underlying operating system, offering maximum portability between execution environments;
  • Are suitable for deployment on modern cloud platforms, obviating the need for servers and systems administration;
  • Minimize divergence between development and production, enabling continuous deployment for maximum agility;
  • And can scale up without significant changes to tooling, architecture, or development practices.

The twelve-factor methodology can be applied to apps written in any programming language, and which use any combination of backing services (database, queue, memory cache, etc).

The contributors to this document have been directly involved in the development and deployment of hundreds of apps, and indirectly witnessed the development, operation, and scaling of hundreds of thousands of apps via our work on the Heroku platform.

This document synthesizes all of our experience and observations on a wide variety of software-as-a-service apps in the wild. It is a triangulation on ideal practices for app development, paying particular attention to the dynamics of the organic growth of an app over time, the dynamics of collaboration between developers working on the app's codebase, and avoiding the cost of software erosion.

Our motivation is to raise awareness of some systemic problems we’ve seen in modern application development, to provide a shared vocabulary for discussing those problems, and to offer a set of broad conceptual solutions to those problems with accompanying terminology. The format is inspired by Martin Fowler's books Patterns of Enterprise Application Architecture and Refactoring.

Any developer building applications which run as a service. Ops engineers who deploy or manage such applications.

I. Codebase

One codebase tracked in revision control, many deploys

II. Dependencies

Explicitly declare and isolate dependencies

III. Config

Store config in the environment

IV. Backing services

Treat backing services as attached resources

V. Build, release, run

Strictly separate build and run stages

VI. Processes

Execute the app as one or more stateless processes

VII. Port binding

Export services via port binding

VIII. Concurrency

Scale out via the process model

IX. Disposability

Maximize robustness with fast startup and graceful shutdown

X. Dev/prod parity

Keep development, staging, and production as similar as possible

XI. Logs

Treat logs as event streams

XII. Admin processes

Run admin/management tasks as one-off processes

I. Codebase

One codebase tracked in revision control, many deploys

A twelve-factor app is always tracked in a version control system, such as GitMercurial, or Subversion. A copy of the revision tracking database is known as a code repository, often shortened to code repo or just repo.

codebase is any single repo (in a centralized revision control system like Subversion), or any set of repos who share a root commit (in a decentralized revision control system like Git).

There is always a one-to-one correlation between the codebase and the app:

  • If there are multiple codebases, it's not an app – it's a distributed system. Each component in a distributed system is an app, and each can individually comply with twelve-factor.
  • Multiple apps sharing the same code is a violation of twelve-factor. The solution here is to factor shared code into libraries which can be included through the dependency manager.

There is only one codebase per app, but there will be many deploys of the app. A deploy is a running instance of the app. This is typically a production site, and one or more staging sites. Additionally, every developer has a copy of the app running in their local development environment, each of which also qualifies as a deploy.

The codebase is the same across all deploys, although different versions may be active in each deploy. For example, a developer has some commits not yet deployed to staging; staging has some commits not yet deployed to production. But they all share the same codebase, thus making them identifiable as different deploys of the same app.

I. 基准代码


12-Factor应用(译者注:应该是说一个使用本文概念来设计的应用,下同)通常会使用版本控制系统加以管理,如GitMercurialSubversion。一份用来跟踪代码所有修订版本的数据库被称作 代码库(code repository, code repo, repo)。

在类似 SVN 这样的集中式版本控制系统中,基准代码 就是指控制系统中的这一份代码库;而在 Git 那样的分布式版本控制系统中,基准代码 则是指最上游的那份代码库。


  • 一旦有多个基准代码,就不能称为一个应用,而是一个分布式系统。分布式系统中的每一个组件都是一个应用,每一个应用可以分别使用 12-Factor 进行开发。
  • 多个应用共享一份基准代码是有悖于 12-Factor 原则的。解决方案是将共享的代码拆分为独立的类库,然后使用 依赖管理 策略去加载它们。

尽管每个应用只对应一份基准代码,但可以同时存在多份部署。每份 部署 相当于运行了一个应用的实例。通常会有一个生产环境,一个或多个预发布环境。此外,每个开发人员都会在自己本地环境运行一个应用实例,这些都相当于一份部署。