Uptests are an essential part of Velociraptor’s promise of zero-downtime deployment. The idea is that a deployment should look like this:

  1. You have some instances of your app already deployed, but you want to update the code or config.
  2. You deploy new instances with the new code or config, while leaving the old instances up and still handling traffic. The new instances don’t handle any traffic yet.
  3. You run tests on the new instances to ensure that they’re running happily and ready to serve traffic.
  4. If the tests pass, then you change your routing rules to serve traffic from the new instances instead of the old ones.
  5. Finally, you take down the old instances.

Velociraptor automates all of the above steps when you swarm. All you have to do as a developer is include some uptests.


An uptest is a small script or program that checks whether a single instance of an app is running correctly.


Uptests scripts must be executable files. They accept two command line arguments: “host” and “port”. Uptests are run in an environment identical to production (same build, same environment variables), but not necessarily on the same host as the proc being tested. The uptest should exercise the designated proc in some way to check whether it’s ready to accept production traffic.


If successful, the uptest script must exit with status code 0. Any other exit code signifies a failure. The script may emit debug information to stdout or stderr.


Uptests live in your app’s source code repo. Each proc in an app has different uptests, organized by subfolders of an ‘uptests’ folder in the project root. In the example below, the web proc has 3 uptests, which will be executed in the order listed by the OS.

+-- Procfile
+-- README.rst
+-- uptests/
   +-- web/
      +-- 01_its_alive.py
      +-- 02_login_required.py
      +-- 03_check_rss.py

What to Test

Uptests do not replace the unit or functional tests that you write in the course of normal development. You still need those!

Uptests should test what those other tests can’t:

  • They can let you know if the production version pulled in a different (and buggy) dependency than staging.
  • They can tell you if there’s some system level dependency that’s not met in production.
  • They can catch fat finger errors you made when typing in config values like the location of your production database.

At minimum you should have an uptest that pings your app to check whether it’s running. More robust uptests will check things like whether all the app’s backing services are also up.

It is not recommended that uptests make any persistent changes. They shouldn’t create or delete records.

You Will Love Uptests

Uptests make it safe(r) to deploy your code a dozen times a day if you need to. If you take the time to write some now, your future self will thank you when you save him or her from bringing the whole site down because of some stupid slip.