Deploy a Node.js App to Northflank

Deploy a Node.js app with an encrypted .env.vault file to Northflank.

Initial setup

Create an index.js file, if you haven't already done so.


// index.js
const PORT = process.env.PORT || 80
const http = require('http')
const server = http.createServer((req, res) => {
  res.statusCode = 200
  res.setHeader('Content-Type', 'text/plain')
  res.end(`Hello ${process.env.HELLO}`)

server.listen(PORT, () => {
  console.log(`Server running on port:${PORT}/`)

Add a Dockerfile.


# Dockerfile
FROM node:16
WORKDIR /usr/src/app
COPY package*.json ./
RUN npm install
COPY . .
CMD node index.js

Create your .dockerignore file.


Create an empty package.json file.



Commit all that to code and push it to GitHub. Then create a new project on Northflank that connects to that GitHub repository.

Choose Dockerfile for your build options.

Northflank will deploy your application to

Once deployed, your app will say 'Hello undefined' as it doesn't have a way to access the environment variable yet. Let's do that next.

Install dotenv

Install dotenv.

npm install dotenv --save # Requires dotenv >= 16.1.0

Create a .env file in the root of your project.


# .env

As early as possible in your application, import and configure dotenv.


// index.js
console.log(process.env) // remove this after you've confirmed it is working

const PORT = process.env.PORT || 80
const http = require('http')

Try running it locally.

PORT=3000 node index.js
  HELLO: 'World'
Server running on port:80/

Perfect. process.env now has the keys and values you defined in your .env file.

That covers local development. Let's solve for production next.

Build .env.vault

Push your latest .env file changes and edit your production secrets. Learn more about syncing

npx dotenv-vault@latest push
npx dotenv-vault@latest open production

Use the UI to configure those secrets per environment.

Then build your encrypted .env.vault file.

npx dotenv-vault@latest build

Its contents should look something like this.


#/         cloud-agnostic vaulting standard         /
#/   [how it works](   /

# development

# production


Fetch your production DOTENV_KEY.

npx dotenv-vault@latest keys production
# outputs: dotenv://:[email protected]/vault/.env.vault?environment=production

Set DOTENV_KEY on Northflank.


Commit those changes safely to code and deploy.

That's it! On deploy, your .env.vault file will be decrypted and its production secrets injected as environment variables – just in time.

You'll know things worked correctly when you see 'Loading env from encrypted .env.vault' in your logs. If a DOTENV_KEY is not set (for example when developing on your local machine) it will fall back to standard dotenv functionality. logs