Getting Started with Java on Heroku

Last Updated: 27 March 2014


Table of Contents

This quickstart will get you going with Java and the Jetty embedded web server, deployed to Heroku. For general information on how to develop and architect apps for use on Heroku, see Architecting Applications for Heroku.

If you have questions about Java on Heroku, consider discussing them in the Java on Heroku forums.

Sample code for the Java demo application is available on GitHub. Edits and enhancements are welcome.


  • Basic Java knowledge, including an installed version of the JVM and Maven 3.
  • Your application must run on the OpenJDK version 6, or 7 (8 is also available in beta).
  • A Heroku user account. Signup is free and instant.

Local workstation setup

If you’re an Eclipse user you can skip these steps and get started inside of an Eclipse workspace. See Getting Started with Heroku & Eclipse.

Install the Heroku Toolbelt on your local workstation. This ensures that you have access to the Heroku command-line client, Foreman, and the Git revision control system.

Once installed, you can use the heroku command from your command shell. Log in using the email address and password you used when creating your Heroku account:

$ heroku login
Enter your Heroku credentials.
Could not find an existing public key.
Would you like to generate one? [Yn]
Generating new SSH public key.
Uploading ssh public key /Users/adam/.ssh/

Press enter at the prompt to upload your existing ssh key or create a new one, used for pushing code later on.

Write your app

You can run any Java application on Heroku that uses Maven as a build tool. As an example, we will write a web app using Jetty. Here is a basic servlet class that also contains a main method to start up the application:


import javax.servlet.ServletException;
import javax.servlet.http.*;
import org.eclipse.jetty.server.Server;
import org.eclipse.jetty.servlet.*;

public class HelloWorld extends HttpServlet {
    protected void doGet(HttpServletRequest req, HttpServletResponse resp)
            throws ServletException, IOException {
        resp.getWriter().print("Hello from Java!\n");
    public static void main(String[] args) throws Exception{
        Server server = new Server(Integer.valueOf(System.getenv("PORT")));
        ServletContextHandler context = new ServletContextHandler(ServletContextHandler.SESSIONS);
        context.addServlet(new ServletHolder(new HelloWorld()),"/*");

Declare dependencies in pom.xml

Heroku recognizes Java apps by the existence of a pom.xml file. Here’s an example pom.xml for the Java/Jetty app we created above.


<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<project xmlns=""

Prevent build artifacts from going into revision control by creating this file:



Build and run your app locally

Build your app locally:

$ mvn package

As part of the build, Maven gathers dependencies and copies them into the directory target/dependency. Start you app locally by setting the PORT environment variable and running Java with all dependencies on the classpath:

On Mac & Linux:

$ export PORT=5000
$ java -cp target/classes:"target/dependency/*" HelloWorld

(double quotes needed to prevent expansion of *)

On Windows:

$ set PORT=5000
$ java -cp target\classes;"target\dependency\*" HelloWorld

You should now see something similar to:

2012-01-31 15:51:21.811:INFO:oejs.Server:jetty-7.6.0.v20120127
2012-01-31 15:51:21.931:INFO:oejsh.ContextHandler:started o.e.j.s.ServletContextHandler{/,null}
2012-01-31 15:51:21.971:INFO:oejs.AbstractConnector:Started SelectChannelConnector@

Open the app in your browser: http://localhost:5000

Declare process types with Procfile

Use a Procfile, a text file in the root directory of your application, to explicitly declare what command should be executed to start a web dyno. In this case, we need to simply run the HelloWorld class.

Here’s what the Procfile looks like:

web:    java $JAVA_OPTS -cp target/classes:target/dependency/* HelloWorld

(note: no double quotes needed in Procfile)

Optionally Choose a JDK

By default, OpenJDK 1.6 is installed with your app. However, you can choose to use a newer JDK by specifying java.runtime.version=1.7 in a file that you place in the root directory of your application.

Here’s what a file looks like:


You can specify 1.6, 1.7, or 1.8 (1.8 is in beta) for Java 6, 7, or 8 (with lambdas), respectively.

Store your app in Git

We now have the three major components of our app: build configuration and dependencies in pom.xml, process types in Procfile, and our application source in src/main/java/ Let’s put it into Git:

$ git init
$ git add .
$ git commit -m "init"

Deploy your application to Heroku

Create the app:

$ heroku create
Creating stark-sword-398... done, stack is cedar |
Git remote heroku added

Deploy your code:

$ git push heroku master
Counting objects: 47, done.
Delta compression using up to 4 threads.
Compressing objects: 100% (25/25), done.
Writing objects: 100% (47/47), 10.25 KiB, done.
Total 47 (delta 19), reused 42 (delta 17)

-----> Heroku receiving push
-----> Java app detected
-----> Installing OpenJDK 1.6... done
-----> Installing Maven 3.0.3... done
-----> Installing settings.xml... done
-----> executing /app/tmp/repo.git/.cache/.maven/bin/mvn -B -Duser.home=/tmp/build_3k0p14ghrmdzs -Dmaven.repo.local=/app/tmp/repo.git/.cache/.m2/repository -s /app/tmp/repo.git/.cache/.m2/settings.xml -DskipTests=true clean install
       [INFO] Scanning for projects...
       [INFO] ------------------------------------------------------------------------
       [INFO] Building helloworld 1.0-SNAPSHOT
       [INFO] ------------------------------------------------------------------------
       [INFO] ------------------------------------------------------------------------
       [INFO] ------------------------------------------------------------------------
       [INFO] Total time: 10.062s
       [INFO] Finished at: Tue Jan 31 23:27:20 UTC 2012
       [INFO] Final Memory: 12M/490M
       [INFO] ------------------------------------------------------------------------
-----> Discovering process types
       Procfile declares types -> web
-----> Compiled slug size is 948K
-----> Launching... done, v3 deployed to Heroku

Visit your application

You’ve deployed your code to Heroku, and specified the process types in a Procfile. You can now instruct Heroku to execute a process type. Heroku does this by running the associated command in a dyno - a lightweight container which is the basic unit of composition on Heroku.

Let’s ensure we have one dyno running the web process type:

$ heroku ps:scale web=1

You can check the state of the app’s dynos. The heroku ps command lists the running dynos of your application:

$ heroku ps
=== web: `java -cp target/classes:target/dep...`
web.1: up for 5s

Here, one dyno is running.

We can now visit the app in our browser with heroku open.

$ heroku open
Opening empty-fire-6534... done

Dyno sleeping and scaling

Having only a single web dyno running will result in the dyno going to sleep after one hour of inactivity. This causes a delay of a few seconds for the first request upon waking. Subsequent requests will perform normally.

To avoid this, you can scale to more than one web dyno. For example:

$ heroku ps:scale web=2

For each application, Heroku provides 750 free dyno-hours. Running your app at 2 dynos would exceed this free, monthly allowance, so let’s scale back:

$ heroku ps:scale web=1

View the logs

Heroku treats logs as streams of time-ordered events aggregated from the output streams of all the dynos running the components of your application. Heroku’s Logplex provides a single channel for all of these events.

View information about your running app using one of the logging commands, heroku logs:

$ heroku logs
2012-01-31T23:27:27+00:00 heroku[web.1]: Starting process with command `java -cp target/classes:target/dependency/* HelloWorld`
2012-01-31T23:27:28+00:00 app[web.1]: 2012-01-31 23:27:28.280:INFO:oejs.Server:jetty-7.6.0.v20120127
2012-01-31T23:27:28+00:00 app[web.1]: 2012-01-31 23:27:28.334:INFO:oejsh.ContextHandler:started o.e.j.s.ServletContextHandler{/,null}
2012-01-31T23:27:28+00:00 app[web.1]: 2012-01-31 23:27:28.373:INFO:oejs.AbstractConnector:Started SelectChannelConnector@
2012-01-31T23:27:29+00:00 heroku[web.1]: State changed from starting to up

Next steps

  • The Spring MVC Hibernate tutorial will guide you through setting up a database-driven application on Heroku.
  • Visit the Java category to learn more about developing and deploying Java applications.
  • Read How Heroku Works for a technical overview of the concepts you’ll encounter while writing, configuring, deploying and running applications.