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Developing cloud native microservice applications with the Kabanero Node.js Express Collection and Appsody CLI.

duration 40 minutes

What you will learn

There are 3 Kabanero Collections for Node.js®, one that includes just the runtime environment (nodejs) and others that include the Express or LoopBack frameworks (nodejs-express or nodejs-loopback).

In this guide, you’ll learn how to create and run a simple cloud native microservice. Then, you’ll update the microservice that you created and deploy it to Kubernetes or Knative. This process will be done by using the Kabanero Node.js Express Collection with the Appsody CLI. Deployment to Knative is optional depending on whether you want to Scale to Zero.

Kabanero’s Node.js Express Collection provides an application stack that enables the development and optimization of microservices. With application stacks, developers don’t need to manage full software development stacks or be experts on underlying container technologies or Kubernetes. Application stacks are customized for specific enterprises to incorporate their company standards and technology choices.

Applications in this guide are written based on the Express API specifications, built and run with Node.js, and deployed to Kubernetes through a modern DevOps toolchain that is triggered in Git.


  1. Docker must be installed.

  2. Appsody must be installed.

  3. Optional: If you have a repository that contains a set of custom collections, you need the URL for the index.yaml file. Use this URL to make your custom collections available with the Appsody CLI.

  4. Optional: If you are testing multiple microservices together, you must have access to a local Kubernetes cluster for local development. If you are using Docker Desktop, you can enable Kubernetes from the menu by selecting PreferencesKubernetesEnable Kubernetes. Other options include Minishift or Minikube.

Getting started

Configuring Appsody

Note: The use of the public Kabanero Collection Hub is only for the purposes of this guide. It is recommended that you make a private copy of the Kabanero Collection Hub and use it in the same way. However, this demonstration does not require that you make your own copy.

Add your Kabanero index to the Appsody CLI. The following example uses the public index for Kabanero Version 0.2.1.

To check the repositories that Appsody can already access, run the following command:

appsody repo list

You see output similar to the following example:

NAME        URL

Next, run the following command to add the Kabanero index:

appsody repo add kabanero

Check the repositories again by running appsody repo list to see that the Kabanero repository was added:

NAME        URL

In this example, the asterisk (*) shows that incubator is the default repository. Run the following command to set the Kabanero index as the default repository:

appsody repo set-default kabanero

Check the available repositories again by running appsody repo list to see that the default is updated:

NAME        URL

Recommendation: In enterprise settings, when a solution architect creates application stacks with technology choices that are in a private Collection Hub, it’s best to remove incubator from the list. These Appsody stacks are not supported by the Kabanero application cluster. Run the following command to remove the incubator repository:

appsody repo remove incubator

Check the available repositories again by running appsody repo list to see that incubator is removed:

NAME             URL

Your Appsody CLI is now configured to use the Kabanero Collections. Next, you need to initialize your project.

Initializing your project

First, create a directory that will contain the project:

mkdir -p ~/projects/simple-nodejs-express
cd ~/projects/simple-nodejs-express

Run the following command to initialize your Node.js Express project with the Appsody CLI:

appsody init nodejs-express

The output from the command is similar to the following example:

Running appsody init...
Downloading nodejs-express template project from
Download complete. Extracting files from /Users/suechaplain/appsody/simple-nodejs-express/nodejs-express.tar.gz
Setting up the development environment
Your Appsody project name has been set to simple-nodejs-express
Pulling docker image kabanero/nodejs-express:0.2
Running command: docker pull kabanero/nodejs-express:0.2
0.2: Pulling from kabanero/nodejs-express
Digest: sha256:ae05d5a746aa0f043ce589fa73fe8139dc5d829787a8433f9fa01ccd83b9fadb
Status: Image is up to date for kabanero/nodejs-express:0.2
[Warning] The stack image does not contain APPSODY_PROJECT_DIR. Using /project
Running command: docker run --rm --entrypoint /bin/bash kabanero/nodejs-express:0.2 -c find /project -type f -name
Successfully initialized Appsody project

Your new project is created, built, and started inside a container.

Understanding the project layout

For context, the following image displays the structure of the project that you’re working on:

Project structure

This project contains the following artifacts:

  • app.js, a sample javascript app

  • package-lock.json, a project build file

  • package.json, a project build file

  • test.js, a simple test

Running the Appsody development environment

Run the following command to start the Appsody development environment:

appsody run

The Appsody CLI launches a local Docker image that contains the Node.js Express runtime environment that hosts the microservice. After some time, you see a message similar to the following example:

[Container] Running command:  npm start
[Container] > nodejs-express@0.2.8 start /project
[Container] > node server.js
[Container] [Mon Nov 18 10:46:35 2019] INFO: Node Application Metrics (Agent Core 4.0.5)
[Container] [Mon Nov 18 10:46:35 2019] INFO: Connecting to broker localhost:1883
[Container] App started on PORT 3000

This message indicates that the project is started. Browse to http://localhost:3000 and you can see the Appsody splash screen.

Browser showing Appsody splash screen

You are now ready to begin developing your application.

Creating and updating the application

You are now going to create a new route that listens on http://localhost:3000/example.

Create a new file called example.js in your project folder and populate it with the following code:

var express = require('express');
var router = express.Router();
/* GET users listing. */
router.get('/', function(req, res, next) {
module.exports = router;

Save the changes.

Edit the app.js file and update the contents to match the following code:

const app = require('express')()
var exampleRouter = require("./example")
app.get('/', (req, res) => {
 res.send("Hello from Appsody!");
app.use("/example", exampleRouter); = app;

Save the changes.

Appsody watches for file changes and automatically updates your application. Point your browser to http://localhost:3000/example to see your new route, which displays NEW ROUTE LISTENING.

Testing the application

If you are building an application that is composed of microservices, you need to test within the context of the overall system. First, test your application and perform unit testing in isolation. To test the application as part of the system, deploy the system and then the new application.

You can choose how you want to deploy the system and application. If you have adequate CPU and memory to run MiniShift, the application, and the associated services, then you can deploy the application on a local Kubernetes that is running on your computer. Alternatively, you can enable Docker Desktop for Kubernetes, which is described in the Prerequisites section of the guide.

You can also deploy the system, application, and the associated services in a private namespace on a development cluster. From this private namespace, you can commit the microservices in Git repositories and deploy them through a DevOps pipeline, not directly to Kubernetes.

Testing locally on Kubernetes

After you finish writing your application code, the Appsody CLI makes it easy to deploy directly to a Kubernetes cluster for further local testing. The ability to deploy directly to a Kubernetes cluster is valuable when you want to test multiple microservices together or test with services that the application requires.

Ensure that your kubectl command is configured with cluster details and run the following command to deploy the application:

appsody deploy

This command builds a new Docker image that is optimized for production deployment and deploys the image to your local Kubernetes cluster. After some time you see a message similar to the following example:

Deployed project running at http://localhost:30262

Run the following command to check the status of the application pods:

kubectl get pods

In the following example output, you can see that a simple-nodejs-express pod is running:

NAME                                    READY   STATUS    RESTARTS   AGE
appsody-operator-6bbddbd455-nfhnm        1/1     Running   0          26d
simple-nodejs-express-775b655768-lqn6q   1/1     Running   0          3m10s

After the simple-nodejs-express pod starts, go to the URL that was returned when you ran the appsody deploy command, and you see the Appsody microservice splash screen. To see the response from your application, point your browser to the <URL_STRING>/example URL, where <URL_STRING> is the URL that was returned. For example, http://localhost:30262 was returned in the previous example. Go to the http://localhost:30262/example URL to see the deployed application response.

Use the following command to stop the deployed application:

appsody deploy delete

After you run this command and the deployment is deleted, you see the following message:

Deployment deleted

Testing with Knative serving

You can choose to test an application that is deployed with Knative Serving to take advantage of Scale to Zero. Not all applications can be written to effectively take advantage of Scale to Zero. The Kabanero operator-based installation configures Knative on the Kubernetes cluster, specifically OKD 3.11. Because of the resources that are required to run Knative and its dependencies, testing locally can be difficult. Publish to Kubernetes by using pipelines that are described later in the guide. Your operations team can configure the pipelines so that Knative Serving is enabled for deployment.

Publishing to Kubernetes by using pipelines

After you develop and test your application in your local environment, it’s time to publish it to your enterprise’s pipeline. From your enterprise’s pipeline, you can deploy the application to the appropriate Kubernetes cluster for staging or production. Complete this process in Git.

When Kabanero is installed, deploying applications to a Kubernetes cluster always occurs through the DevOps pipeline that is triggered in Git. Using DevOps pipelines to deploy applications ensures that developers can focus on application code, not on containers or Kubernetes infrastructure. From an enterprise perspective, this deployment process ensures that both the container image build and the deployment to Kubernetes or Knative happen in a secure and consistent way that meets company standards.

To deliver your application to the pipeline, push the project to the pre-configured Git repository that has a configured webhook. This configured webhook triggers the enterprise build and deploy pipeline.

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