Primary Project


The goal of the project is to gain hands-on experience in building and deploying a scalable web service on the Internet. Using the latest web technologies while learning how to tackle the scalability and fault-tolerance concerns. This is a “learn by doing” course: the course project will form the primary focus of the course with the lectures and discussion of research papers providing background material. Each project will be conducted in an agile team where students will build their own scalable, redundant web site using fundamental web technologies and the Ruby on Rails framework.


Throughout the project, you might find it helpful to go through a ruby on rails tutorial. The Ruby on Rails Tutorial (see sidebar) is an amazing resource. Rail’s own tutorial is quite good as well: Getting Started with Rails



Submit a report describing your project, and your data-driven approach to load testing. Consider answering the following questions:

  • What bottlenecks did you encounter along the way, and how did you address them?
  • What’s the optimal $ cost per number of users your web service supports?
  • What design or functionality tradeoffs did you have to make in order to support additional load?

Stellar Report Examples


Record a video presentation of your final project to share with the class. The video must be under 10 minutes in duration.

The video should emphasize your key results from your report.

Project Sprint Schedule

All sprints end and begin with each week’s lab session, save for the last sprint which does not have an ending lab session.

At the end of each sprint you will:

  • Ensure all your completed stories are integrated on your main branch.
  • Deploy your project using Elastic Beanstalk.
  • Demo your deployed version and share the newly created features.
  • Share any new load testing results.

Sprint 1: Week 6

  • Form your team.
    • Decide on a team name
    • One person on the team, message me on piazza with:
      • Your team name
      • The name, and GitHub username of all the team members
  • Get access to your GitHub respository (I’ll create that after the above)
  • Get a new set of AWS credentials specific to your team.
  • Deploy your initial rails code to Elastic Beanstalk.
  • Complete N user stories, where N is the number of people on your team.

Sprint 2: Week 7

  • Write a tsung load test encompassing your existing features.
    • Ensure that when it is run, there are no 4XX or 5XX level HTTP status codes.

Sprint 3: Week 8

Sprint 4: Week 9

Sprint 5: Week 10+

Creating a New Rails Application Using Docker

Assuming you have docker installed locally, follow the steps below to create a new rails project using docker.

Prepare the project directory

touch Dockerfile Gemfile Gemfile.lock docker-compose.yml

Copy the following contents into Dockerfile:

FROM ruby

RUN curl -sS | apt-key add \
  && echo "deb stable main" > /etc/apt/sources.list.d/yarn.list \
  && apt-get update && apt-get install -y nodejs yarn --no-install-recommends \
  && gem install rails


COPY Gemfile Gemfile.lock /app/
RUN bundle install

CMD ["/bin/bash"]

Copy the following contents into docker-compose.yml:

      POSTGRES_PASSWORD: postgres
    image: postgres
      - ./tmp/db:/var/lib/postgresql/data
    build: .
    command: bash -c "rm -f tmp/pids/ && bundle exec rails s -p 3000 -b ''"
      - db
      - "3000:3000"
      - .:/app:delegated
version: '3'

Initialize your git repository and make an initial commit:

git init
git add .
git commit -m "Prepare the project directory"

Create the rails project

First build the web container image using docker-compose:

docker-compose build web

Then run rails new to create the initial rails project:

docker-compose run web rails new . --force --no-deps --database=postgresql

Add everything to git and make a new commit:

git add .
git commit -m "Run 'docker-compose run web rails new . --force --no-deps --database=postgresql'"

Finally, re-build the web container so that it now includes the project dependencies:

docker-compose build web

Configure the project to talk to the database container

Add the following to lines to the default section of config/database.yml:

  host: <%= ENV.fetch("PGHOST") { "db" } %>
  password: postgres
  username: postgres

Make a commit:

git add .
git commit -m "Configure the project to talk to the database container"

Create the development and test databases

First start up the database container:

docker-compose up --detach db

Then verify that the container is running:

docker-compose ps

The output should look like:

      Name                    Command              State    Ports
projectname_db_1 postgres   Up      5432/tcp

Run the following to create the database:

docker-compose run web rails db:create

Ensure dependencies are up-to-date

Periodically run the following two commands to ensure your ruby and node dependencies are up to date:

docker-compose run web bundle install
docker-compose run web yarn install

If your project has outstanding changes as shown via git status, consider making a commit at this time.

Start the development server

docker-compose up

At this point you should be able to access the “Yay! You’re on Rails!” page via http://localhost:3000.

Pushing to GitHub and Setting Up Actions

If you haven’t already, add GitHub as a remote:

git remote add origin

If this is your first time pushing to GitHub, then run:

git branch -M main
git push -u origin HEAD

Otherwise, you can simply run:

git push

GitHub Actions

To trigger automated test runs everytime you push to main, or create a pull request, or push an update to a branch associated with a pull request do the following.

Copy the following contents into the file .github/workflows/ruby.yml:

name: Ruby

    branches: [ main ]
    branches: [ main ]

    runs-on: ubuntu-latest
          POSTGRES_PASSWORD: postgres
        image: postgres
          - 5432:5432
    - uses: actions/checkout@v2
    - name: Install PostgreSQL client
      run: sudo apt-get -yqq install libpq-dev
    - name: Set up Ruby
      uses: ruby/setup-ruby@v1
        ruby-version: 2.7.2
        bundler-cache: true
    - name: Set up yarn
      run: |
        yarn install --pure-lockfile
    - name: Prepare database
        PGHOST: localhost
        RAILS_ENV: test
      run: bin/rails db:setup
    - name: Run tests
        PGHOST: localhost
      run: bin/rails test

Add, commit, and push these changes:

git add .
git commit -m "Configure GitHub actions"
git push

Deploying to Elastic Beanstalk

At this point you should have a Rails project that you can successfully run in development locally using Docker. In the following steps we’ll make the necessary adjustments to configure the application for Amazon’s Elastic Beanstalk, and then deploy it.

Configure the production database

Update the lines in the production section of config.database.yml to include:

  database: <%= ENV['RDS_DB_NAME'] %>
  host: <%= ENV['RDS_HOSTNAME'] %>
  password: <%= ENV['RDS_PASSWORD'] %>
  port: <%= ENV['RDS_PORT'] %>
  username: <%= ENV['RDS_USERNAME'] %>

Add ebextensions to install nodejs and yarn on each application server instance:

Create the directory and file

mkdir .ebextensions
touch .ebextensions/01_install_dependencies.config
touch .ebextensions/10_nginx_add_packs.config

Copy the following contents into .ebextensions/01_install_dependencies.config:

    command: |
      curl --silent --location | bash -
      yum install -y nodejs
    command: |
      curl --silent --location | tee /etc/yum.repos.d/yarn.repo
      yum install -y yarn

Copy the following contents into .ebextensions/10_nginx_add_packs.config:

    command: |
      grep packs /opt/elasticbeanstalk/config/private/nginx/webapp.conf || sed -i '$a\\nlocation /packs {\n    alias /var/app/current/public/packs;\n    gzip_static on;\n    gzip on;\n    expires max;\n    add_header Cache-Control public;\n}' /opt/elasticbeanstalk/config/private/nginx/webapp.conf

Configure the Profile

Inform elasticbeanstalk to use your chosen version of puma.

touch Procfile

Copy the following contents in Procfile:

web: bundle exec puma -C /opt/elasticbeanstalk/config/private/pumaconf.rb

Commit and push the changes

git add .
git commit -m "Prepare the application to deploy to Amazon's Elastic Beanstalk"
git push

SSH to and clone your repository

In order to most easily create an elastic beanstalk deployment, we need to SSH into You should have received the file TEAMNAME.pem via your UCSB Google Drive. Assuming that file is in your downloads folder run the following:

ssh -i ~/Downloads/TEAMNAME.pem

Once logged in, clone your repository using HTTPS (this will be a read-only version of the project):

git clone

Configure Elastic Beanstalk

For each copy of your repository, you’ll need to do the following only once:

eb init --keyname $(whoami) \
  --platform "64bit Amazon Linux 2 v3.2.2 running Ruby 2.7" \
  --region us-west-2 PROJECTNAME

Create a deployment using the minimum necessary resources

eb create --envvars SECRET_KEY_BASE=BADSECRET \
  -db.engine postgres -db.i db.t3.micro -db.user u \
  -i t3.micro --single YOURNAME

Enter a database password at the prompt (twice) and then take a break as creating a deployment will take about ten minutes (the database is slow to create).

Verify the deployment

Run eb status to see the state of your deployment. The output should look something like the following:

Environment details for: YOURNAME
  Application name: PROJECTNAME
  Region: us-west-2
  Deployed Version: app-6360-191104_223036
  Environment ID: e-yetvigtxpz
  Platform: arn:aws:elasticbeanstalk:us-west-2::platform/Puma with Ruby 2.6 running on 64bit Amazon Linux/2.11.0
  Tier: WebServer-Standard-1.0
  Updated: 2019-11-04 22:40:16.929000+00:00
  Status: Ready
  Health: Green

The two most important parts are that Status is Ready, and Health is Green. If not consult the logs eb logs.

To test if the deployment is successful copy the CNAME, and paste it into your browser:

If you get a page stating The page you were looking for doesn't exist., that likely means things are working, and you have yet to set up a root_route on your site (the “Yay! You’re on Rails!” doesn’t show up in production mode).

Updating the application

After making changes and verifying they work with locally, push your changes to GitHub, pull them on and then update your deployment via:

eb deploy

Note: Only commited changes are pushed on deployment, so ensure git status is clean. (You can run eb deploy --staged to include staged files, but it’s preferrable to deploy code that has been pushed to GitHub.

Working with deployments

Viewing Logs

To view the logs run:

eb logs | less -R

SSH into an application server

eb ssh -i "ssh -i ~/$(whoami).pem"

Cleaning Up

When you know you’re done, clean up your deployment:

eb terminate

Note: Deployments will automatically be cleaned up ~110 minutes after their last update.

Project Ideas

Please select from one of the following project ideas. You are free to modify them as you wish, and can even come up with another project idea, but the complexity must remain the same.

Please note all the user stories start off with unauthenticated users. That’s because you want to deliver functionality first. Implementing authentication first does not provide any value, if that authentication has no features behind it. Complete a set of unauthenticated stories first, prior to introducing authentication.

A Social Network

Minimum necessary models:

  • Post
  • Comment (on Post)
  • Profile
  • Message (profile to profile)

Initial user stories:

  1. As an unauthenticated user I can make a post so that I can share whatever cool things I want.

  2. As an unauthenticated user I can view all the posts on the front page in descending order so that I can see what new things people are sharing.

  3. As an unauthenticated user, I can comment on a post so that I can add updates to existing content.

  4. As an authenticated user, my front page shows only posts made on my profile so that I can see content specific to me.

  5. As as authenicated user, my posts and comments are attributable to me so that others know what I’ve shared.

An Online Store

Minimum necessary models:

  • Item
  • Order
  • Rating (user to item)
  • User

Initial user stories:

  1. As an unauthenticated user I can list my item on the store so that I can sell my products.

  2. As an unauthenticated user I can purchase an item from the store so that I can obtain the things I desire.

  3. As an unauthenticated user I can view all the purchase histories so that I can see what others have bought.

  4. As an unauthenticated user, I can rate an item that has been purchased so that I can share my opinions of the item with others.

  5. As an authenticated user, only I can see my own orders in my order history because I don’t want others to see what I’ve purchased.

An Event Sharing Service

Minimum necessary models:

  • Event
  • RSVP
  • Comment
  • User
  • Invite

Initial user stories:

  1. As an unauthenticated user, I can create an event so that I can share with others the details of the event I am hosting.

  2. As an unauthenticated user, I can comment on an event to share my enthusiasm for said event.

  3. As an authenticated user, I can RSVP yes/no to events that I do [not] indend to attend so that the host can better estimate how many people will show up.

  4. As an authenticated user, I can see the list of events that I have previously attended so that I can recall my fond memories.

  5. As an event host, I can proactively invite users to my event, so that I can help spread the word.