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This is the documentation for recap, a simple, opinionated set of capistrano deployment recipes.

Inspired in part by this blog post, these recipes use git’s strengths to deploy applications in a faster, simpler manner than the standard capistrano deployment.

Aims and features

Releases are managed using git. All code is deployed to a single directory, and git tags are used to manage different released versions. No releases, current or shared directories are created, avoiding unnecessary sym-linking. For more information on how releases work, see recap/tasks/deploy.rb.

Deployments do the minimum work possible, using git to determine whether tasks need to run. e.g. the bundle:install task only runs if the app contains a Gemfile.lock file and it has changed since the last deployment. You can see how this works in recap/tasks/bundler.rb.

Applications have their own user and group, owning all of that application’s associated files and processes. This gives them a dedicated environment, allowing environment variables to be used for application specific configuration. Tasks such as env, env:set and env:edit make setting and changing these variables easy. recap/tasks/env.rb has more information about using these environment variables.

Personal accounts are used to deploy to the server, distinct from the application user. The right to deploy an application is granted simply by adding a user to the application group. Most tasks are run as the application user using sudo su…. To avoid having to enter a password when running them, these lines can be added to /etc/sudoers.d/application (change application to the name of your app).

%application ALL=NOPASSWD: /sbin/start application*
%application ALL=NOPASSWD: /sbin/stop application*
%application ALL=NOPASSWD: /sbin/restart application*
%application ALL=NOPASSWD: /bin/su – application*
%application ALL=NOPASSWD: /bin/su application*

Limitations and Constraints

Recap has been developed and tested using Ubuntu 11.04. It may work well with other flavours of unix, but proceed with caution.

Recap also uses a different file layout than other capistrano-based deployments, so other recipes may not work well with it. You can improve compatibility with other recipes using recap/support/compatibility.rb.

Getting started

To use recap you’ll need a project stored in git. You’ll also need a server with git installed and if deploying a rails or ruby app, bundler and ruby too. Finally you need an account on the server which you can SSH into and which is a sudoer.

Preparing your project

To get a project ready to deploy with recap, you’ll need to install the gem, most likely by adding an entry like the following to the Gemfile, then running bundle install.

gem ‘recap’, ‘~>1.0.0’

Once the gem is installed, generate a Capfile by running recap setup within your project folder. You can see the supported options with recap help setup. The generated Capfile will look something like this:

require ‘recap/recipes/rails’

set :application, ‘example-app’
set :repository, ‘git@example.com:example/example-app.git’

server ‘server.example.com’, :app

Edit the Capfile to point at your deployment server and your project should be ready. cap -T will show all the tasks now available.

Preparing the server

The next step is setting up the server. Running cap bootstrap will check your personal account on the server is configured correctly, and add an account for your application.

This application account is dedicated to your app, so you can edit its .profile as much as you need (to add a particular version of ruby to the path, for example). recap/tasks/env.rb information on how to use the env:set and env:edit tasks to set configuration variables.

Preparing the app

Running cap deploy:setup clones your code and sets up everything ready for the first deployment. Once this has been run, you might want to set up a virtual host entry for nginx or Apache to point at your app.


Finally running cap deploy will deploy your app for the first time. Each time you make a change you want deployed, commit and push your changes to your git repository, and run cap deploy to push those changes to the server.

Further information

Recap has recipes to deploy static, ruby-based and rails apps which you can find out about in recap/recipes.

For more information about all the capistrano tasks recap provides, see recap/tasks.

Versioning and License

recap uses semantic versioning. The code is available on github and released under the MIT License

module Recap
  module Support
    autoload :Compatibility, 'recap/support/compatibility'
    autoload :Namespace, 'recap/support/namespace'
    autoload :Environment, 'recap/support/environment'
    autoload :ShellCommand, 'recap/support/shell_command'
    autoload :CLI, 'recap/support/cli'

  autoload :Version, 'recap/version'