Deploy to Heroku#

This guide describes how to deploy a websockets server to Heroku. The same principles should apply to other Platform as a Service providers.

Heroku no longer offers a free tier.

When this tutorial was written, in September 2021, Heroku offered a free tier where a websockets app could run at no cost. In November 2022, Heroku removed the free tier, making it impossible to maintain this document. As a consequence, it isn’t updated anymore and may be removed in the future.

We’re going to deploy a very simple app. The process would be identical for a more realistic app.

Create repository#

Deploying to Heroku requires a git repository. Let’s initialize one:

$ mkdir websockets-echo
$ cd websockets-echo
$ git init -b main
Initialized empty Git repository in websockets-echo/.git/
$ git commit --allow-empty -m "Initial commit."
[main (root-commit) 1e7947d] Initial commit.

Create application#

Here’s the implementation of the app, an echo server. Save it in a file called

#!/usr/bin/env python

import asyncio
import signal
import os

import websockets

async def echo(websocket):
    async for message in websocket:
        await websocket.send(message)

async def main():
    # Set the stop condition when receiving SIGTERM.
    loop = asyncio.get_running_loop()
    stop = loop.create_future()
    loop.add_signal_handler(signal.SIGTERM, stop.set_result, None)

    async with websockets.serve(
        await stop

if __name__ == "__main__":

Heroku expects the server to listen on a specific port, which is provided in the $PORT environment variable. The app reads it and passes it to serve().

Heroku sends a SIGTERM signal to all processes when shutting down a dyno. When the app receives this signal, it closes connections and exits cleanly.

Create a requirements.txt file containing this line to declare a dependency on websockets:


Create a Procfile.

web: python

This tells Heroku how to run the app.

Confirm that you created the correct files and commit them to git:

$ ls
Procfile           requirements.txt
$ git add .
$ git commit -m "Initial implementation."
[main 8418c62] Initial implementation.
 3 files changed, 32 insertions(+)
 create mode 100644 Procfile
 create mode 100644
 create mode 100644 requirements.txt

The app is ready. Let’s deploy it!

Deploy application#

Follow the instructions to install the Heroku CLI, if you haven’t done that yet.

Sign up or log in to Heroku.

Create a Heroku app — you’ll have to pick a different name because I’m already using websockets-echo:

$ heroku create websockets-echo
Creating ⬢ websockets-echo... done |
$ git push heroku

... lots of output...

remote: -----> Launching...
remote:        Released v1
remote: deployed to Heroku
remote: Verifying deploy... done.
 * [new branch]      main -> main

Validate deployment#

Let’s confirm that your application is running as expected.

Since it’s a WebSocket server, you need a WebSocket client, such as the interactive client that comes with websockets.

If you’re currently building a websockets server, perhaps you’re already in a virtualenv where websockets is installed. If not, you can install it in a new virtualenv as follows:

$ python -m venv websockets-client
$ . websockets-client/bin/activate
$ pip install websockets

Connect the interactive client — you must replace websockets-echo with the name of your Heroku app in this command:

$ python -m websockets wss://
Connected to wss://

Great! Your app is running!

Once you’re connected, you can send any message and the server will echo it, or press Ctrl-D to terminate the connection:

> Hello!
< Hello!
Connection closed: 1000 (OK).

You can also confirm that your application shuts down gracefully.

Connect an interactive client again — remember to replace websockets-echo with your app:

$ python -m websockets wss://
Connected to wss://

In another shell, restart the app — again, replace websockets-echo with your app:

$ heroku dyno:restart -a websockets-echo
Restarting dynos on ⬢ websockets-echo... done

Go back to the first shell. The connection is closed with code 1001 (going away).

$ python -m websockets wss://
Connected to wss://
Connection closed: 1001 (going away).

If graceful shutdown wasn’t working, the server wouldn’t perform a closing handshake and the connection would be closed with code 1006 (abnormal closure).