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Browserless Gives You Fast, Scalable and Reliable Browser Automation

In this episode of Running in Production, Joel Griffith goes over building a service to run headless browsers using Express, Node and Docker. It’s been up and running since late 2017 and runs on just under 1,000 DigitalOcean servers.

Joel talks about handling millions of browser sessions, breaking the app up into a few pieces, using Redis as a primary database, using Stripe, creating a custom Node CLI for helping automate deployment tasks and so much more.

Topics Include

  • 3:28 – Being profitable early on and spinning up a VPS for each dedicated account
  • 6:22 – 4-5 million browser sessions per day, with peaks up to 30+ million
  • 8:03 – Motivation for choosing Express and Node
  • 14:31 – The vm2 library helps a ton to eliminate things like remote code execution
  • 19:39 – There’s 4 main parts to the app (containers, load balancer, API server and Redis)
  • 25:12 – For the pay as you go accounts, you top your account off with credits
  • 27:12 – Redis is their primary database
  • 31:29 – Using official SDKs are nice, especially if they are written in TypeScript
  • 32:43 – Preact is being used on the front-end as an alternative to React
  • 37:22 – Docker is being used in development and production
  • 42:01 – Testing Stripe locally in development along with nginx (it’s not Dockerized)
  • 52:36 – Using DigitalOcean to host everything (droplets, cloud firewall and floating IPs)
  • 57:40 – Files like PDFs are dynamically served, they are not static files
  • 59:34 – All of the servers run Ubuntu 20.04 LTS
  • 1:01:41 – There’s close to 1,000 servers running at any given time
  • 1:05:37 – The deployment process from development to production (includes Dokku)
  • 1:11:51 – A custom Node CLI helps automate quite a bit of deployment tasks
  • 1:14:00 – The core tool is open source on GitHub
  • 1:18:38 – Email notifications get sent out if any of the servers get overloaded
  • 1:23:01 – An endless sea of text messages from 500s while on vacation in Bora Bora
  • 1:25:44 – Best tips? Know when to pivot and try to talk with folks who cancel your service
  • 1:29:58 – Joel is on GitHub, checkout https://www.browserless.io/ along with @browserless
πŸ“„ References
βš™οΈ Tech Stack
πŸ›  Libraries Used

Support the Show

This episode does not have a sponsor and this podcast is a labor of love. If you want to support the show, the best way to do it is to purchase one of my courses or suggest one to a friend.

  • Dive into Docker is a video course that takes you from not knowing what Docker is to being able to confidently use Docker and Docker Compose for your own apps. Long gone are the days of "but it works on my machine!". A bunch of follow along labs are included.
  • Build a SAAS App with Flask is a video course where we build a real world SAAS app that accepts payments, has a custom admin, includes high test coverage and goes over how to implement and apply 50+ common web app features. There's over 20+ hours of video.

Questions

Dec 21, 2020

✏️ Edit on GitHub