Where and how am I hosting my projects in 2024?

It’s been about eight years since I started hosting my web-based projects on the internet, and over that time, how I host them has changed dramatically. Now that 2024 is firmly underway, I thought I’d reflect on where and how I host (and deliver) my more modern projects and what I foresee going forward.

Static content

When hosting static content, nothing is as cheap, simple, and reliable as GitHub Pages. Provided your repository is public, GitHub Pages is free, and when combined with their GitHub Action, it’s dead simple to have automated deployments whenever you wish.

An example of a project I deploy and host this way is the website for my npm package license-cop. The project is written within an NX Monorepo, allowing me to easily co-locate the website in the same repository as the npm package; while deployments of the package itself are ad-hoc (rather than continuous), I use a GitHub Action called website.yml to handle continuous deployments (CD) of the website.

After you’ve built your static artifacts, upload them using the actions/upload-pages-artifact action step like this:

- name: Upload Build
  uses: actions/upload-pages-artifact@v3
    path: ./dist

Then, as soon as you’re ready, deploy them using a dedicated deploy job like this:

    name: Deploy Website

    runs-on: ubuntu-latest

      name: github-pages
      url: ${{ steps.deployment.outputs.page_url }}

      - name: Deploy to GitHub Pages
        id: deployment
        uses: actions/deploy-pages@v4

Simple. I didn’t feel like forking out for a whole domain just for this project, while GitHub Actions come with <username><repo> URIs for free, I’m a big fan of the project where you can claim subdomains of for free, provided you’re using them for JavaScript-related content.

Static Content from Private Repositories

Not all projects are open-source or source-available; in these instances, I’ve found myself really enjoying Cloudflare Pages.

Since the death of Google Domains, I’ve transferred all my domains over to Cloudflare, which has made using their Pages offering practically a one-click solution. When combined with their cloudflare/pages-action GitHub Action, the deployment process for Cloudflare Pages is as simple as deploying to GitHub Pages.

For projects deployed to Cloudflare Pages where you haven’t purchased a specific domain, Cloudflare supplies you with a <whatever> domain - which is arguably better than GitHub’s free URIs that are tied to your repository names.

Dynamic Content

Gone are the days when I would purchase a VPS to host my server-side projects. For the last couple of years, I’ve been hosting my backends in Docker containers on GCP, and honestly, I don’t see that changing any time soon.

Once a developer has wrapped their head around the Docker mental model, creating containers for their projects is a breeze. I won’t show any snippets for how I tend to go about it because every project is different; however, once I’ve got my Dockerfiles in a buildable state, I tend to follow the same patterns for deployment.

Continuing to use GitHub Actions, I push my built Docker images to GCP's Artifact Registry. The permissions and security models in place across all of GCP are far more complex than what is required for any individual’s needs (what do you expect from an enterprise offering?); however, now that I’ve figured them out, I seem to reliably be able to set up the various secrets, roles, and permissions required to make their GitHub Actions perform the tasks that I need. In order I use google-github-actions/auth, then google-github-actions/setup-gcloud. Once set up, running gcloud auth configure-docker --quiet enables me to run docker push to get my images up into Artifact Registry.

There are multiple ways of running a Docker container from within GCP; I stick with Cloud Run for my projects. For projects (they call them ‘apps’) that only require server-to-server communication, they give you a gibberish URI per project, whereas, for user-facing projects, it’s simple enough to get apps mapped to a domain no matter which registrar you use. Cloud Run apps can automatically scale horizontally to n-number of instances based on your needs and configuration, and it comes with basic metrics and log ingestion out of the box.

Together, Artifact Registry and Cloud Run are very cheap, with Cloud Run, in particular, being one of the offerings under GCP's Free Tier; this is why I say that I can’t see myself moving to something else any time soon. As of Jan 2024, I can’t find the same feature set for a lower price on any of the other prominent clouds.

Which, I believe, is pretty much everything covered. The only thing not mentioned explicitly (but is heavily implied) is that I’m using GitHub for my repository hosting. While I’m confident in my current deployment and hosting strategies, there’s always room for improvements, so I’ll be sure to make any edits here as and when they happen.