Increase productivity with five Cloud Foundry plugins
Develop cloud apps locally, list environment issues, show live stats, and more
Cloud Foundry is the industry-standard open source cloud application platform for developing and deploying enterprise cloud applications, and if you use the Cloud Foundry command-line interface (CLI) you can install plugins that can increase your productivity by allowing you to:
- Develop cloud apps locally
- Show live statistics of your Cloud Foundry distribution
- Save time normally required to copy and paste cloud app URLs
- Display app user information
- Display a list of the issues that currently exist in your cloud environment
Although cf CLI is a powerful tool all by itself, plugins can make a developer’s job even easier … You can also write your own plugins that can be hosted internally or added to the CF community. “
In this article, I’ll demonstrate how to use these Cloud Foundry plugins to perform the tasks listed above:
- PCF Dev, a distribution of Cloud Foundry designed to run on a developer’s laptop or workstation
- top, an interactive interface that shows top statistics similar to the UNIX
- Open, for opening app URLs in the browser
- whoami, which shows you the name of the currently logged in user
- doctor, which scans your deployed applications, routes, and services for anomalies and reports any issues
You can find many other plugins at Cloud Foundry Community cf CLI Plugins or create your own, all without having any vendor lock-in issues.
Before we begin by installing the CLI, let’s take a quick look at the Cloud Foundry platform.
About Cloud Foundry
Cloud Foundry—which is language- and infrastructure-agnostic—automates, scales, and manages a cloud app throughout its lifecycle. You can develop applications in almost any language and use any cloud provider you choose.
The project started in 2009 and became open source in 2015 with the creation of the Cloud Foundry Foundation. Cloud Foundry supports Ruby, Java, Python, PHP, Golang, and Node; this covers most major languages and frameworks, which is one of the reasons it is so popular with developers. Since Cloud Foundry is open source and can be deployed on multiple cloud platforms like AWS, Azure, and even OpenStack, this avoids the vendor lock-in issue that scares off many developers and startups.
Developers also have an option to deploy applications on managed Cloud Foundry solutions and certified platforms like IBM Cloud, Atos Cloud Foundry, Pivotal Cloud Foundry, SAP Cloud Platform, Huawei FusionStage, and Swisscom Application Cloud. Some alternatives to Cloud Foundry are Heroku, OpenShift, and Google App Engine.
If you are absolutely new to Cloud Foundry, see the Resources listed at the right for tutorials on how to get started and use the platform.
Next, I’ll explain how to install the CLI.
CLI, one key to productivity
The Cloud Foundry CLI is the certified command-line client that enables developers to interact with the platform and its services. It is maintained by the Cloud Foundry Foundation.
You can download and install Cloud Foundry CLI on Linux, Mac OSX, and Windows platforms.
Although Cloud Foundry has a nice management dashboard, nothing beats the command line when it comes to productivity and automation. Many of the most serious users prefer the CLI over GUI applications.
Installing the CLI
You will need to install the Cloud Foundry CLI to be able to use the plugins, so go ahead and hook it up. The easiest way is via the package manager:
#For Mac OSX $ brew install cloudfoundry/tap/cf‑cli #For Ubuntu and other Debian‑based distros $ wget ‑q ‑O ‑ https://packages.cloudfoundry.org/debian/cli.cloudfoundry.org.key | sudo apt‑key add ‑ $ echo "deb http://packages.cloudfoundry.org/debian stable main" | sudo tee /etc/apt/sources.list.d/cloudfoundry‑cli.list #...then, update your local package index, then finally install the cf CLI $ sudo apt‑get update $ sudo apt‑get install cf‑cli #For Fedora and other RedHat based systems #Configure the Cloud Foundry Foundation package repository sudo wget ‑O /etc/yum.repos.d/cloudfoundry‑cli.repo https://packages.cloudfoundry.org/fedora/cloudfoundry‑cli.repo #...then, install the cf CLI (which will also download and add the public key to your system) sudo yum install cf‑cli
You can also download binaries for your operating system.
Plugins, the stars of the show
The Cloud Foundry Command Line Interface (cf CLI) includes plugin functionality that enables developers to add custom commands to cf CLI.
Now I’ll detail the plugins—how to install and use them.
PCF Dev is a small-footprint distribution that’s provided by the Pivotal team and designed to run inside a single virtual machine on your local machine, giving you the full Cloud Foundry experience and a full-featured development environment in an easy-to-install package.
In other words, it allows you to develop your cloud apps locally. PCF Dev is also a good way to evaluate and learn Cloud Foundry.
For all practical purposes, PCF Dev behaves like a plugin. For example, to uninstall it you use the command
cf uninstall-plugin pcfdev.
To run PCF Dev, you must have at least 4GB of memory and 20GB of free disk space on your machine. All of the examples in this article work fine with PCF Dev.
Install the plugin
Download the plugin binary for your OS:
- GitHub allows you to build an open source version of PCF Dev that only contains the Elastic Runtime and the CF MySQL Broker.
- Pivotal Network allows you to build a version that contains other PCF components such as Redis and RabbitMQ.
For the full version, you might have to login before you can download the plugin.
Once you have the plugin .zip file, extract it in a folder and execute the binary file that it contains. I have downloaded the Mac OSX version of the plugin, but of course you should download the version that corresponds to your operating system.
kn330@local‑osx $ ls pcfdev‑v0.26.0+PCF1.10.0‑osx.zip kn330@local‑osx $ unzip pcfdev‑v0.26.0+PCF1.10.0‑osx.zip Archive: pcfdev‑v0.26.0+PCF1.10.0‑osx.zip inflating: pcfdev‑v0.26.0+PCF1.10.0‑osx kn330@local‑osx $ ./pcfdev‑v0.26.0+PCF1.10.0‑osx Plugin successfully upgraded. Current version: 0.26.0. For more info run: cf dev help
If the plugin is successfully installed, you will see the success message as the output.
If you are using Linux, then you might not have the unzip utility pre-installed. You can download and install it by using the following command:
$ sudo apt‑get install unzip
Using the plugin
PCF Dev is the easiest way to spin up a local distribution on Cloud Foundry, and you can do that with the
cf dev start command:
cf dev start Downloading VM... Progress: |====================>| 100% VM downloaded Importing VM... Starting VM... Provisioning VM... Waiting for services to start... 40 out of 40 running _______ _______ _______ ______ _______ __ __ | || || | | | | || | | | | _ || || ___| | _ || ___|| |_| | | |_| || || |___ | | | || |___ | | | ___|| _|| ___| | |_| || ___|| | | | | |_ | | | || |___ | | |___| |_______||___| |______| |_______| |___| is now running. To begin using PCF Dev, please run: cf login ‑a https://api.local.pcfdev.io ‑‑skip‑ssl‑validation Admin user => Email: admin / Password: admin Regular user => Email: user / Password: pass
It may take several minutes for the PCF Dev machines and services to start.
The output also echoes the credentials that can be used to login to Cloud Foundry Dev.
You can verify the status of your development environment with the
cf dev status command:
kn330@local-osx $ cf dev status Running CLI Login: cf login -a https://api.local.pcfdev.io --skip-ssl-validation Apps Manager URL: https://local.pcfdev.io Admin user => Email: admin / Password: admin Regular user => Email: user / Password: pass
Now run a demo application on your local Cloud Foundry environment.
First, clone the demo spring-music app, which is written in Java™ on the Spring Framework.
kn330@local-osx $ git clone https://github.com/cloudfoundry- samples/spring-music
Assemble the app using gradle:
kn330@local-osx $ cd ./spring-music kn330@local-osx $ ./gradlew assemble
Login to PCF Dev with username admin and password admin:
kn330@local-osx $ cf login -a api.local.pcfdev.io --skip-ssl-validation API endpoint: api.local.pcfdev.io ... API endpoint: https://api.local.pcfdev.io (API version: 2.75.0) User: admin Org: pcfdev-org Space: pcfdev-space
Push the application:
kn330@local-osx $ cf push --hostname spring-music Using manifest file /../spring-music/manifest.yml ... 0 of 1 instances running, 1 starting 0 of 1 instances running, 1 starting 1 of 1 instances running ... requested state: started instances: 1/1 usage: 1G x 1 instances urls: spring-music.local.pcfdev.io
You can verify the deployed application by visiting the URL http://spring-music.local.pcfdev.io with your browser.
The admin panel for the local PCF Dev environment is accessible on http://apps.local.pcf.dev. If you are visiting for the first time, you must also run the command
cf dev trust. You have to do this because the admin dashboard runs on https and PCF Dev uses a self-signed certificate that needs to be added to your local machine’s trusted keychain.
To get more information about PCF Dev, type
cf dev help.
The top plugin is an interactive Cloud Foundry CLI tool that displays live statistics about your Cloud Foundry distribution, including application and route metrics, system resource utilization per application, and other important values. Think of top as a Cloud Foundry alternative to the Linux
top command. The primary source of information that the top plugin typically uses is by monitoring the Cloud Foundry Firehose plugin.
top runs in either privileged or non-privileged mode depending on what permissions have been granted to the user.
Install the top plugin
You can easily install the plugin as follows:
kn330@local-osx $ cf install-plugin -r CF-Community "top"
Using the top plugin
To start using the plugin, you just enter the following:
kn330@local-osx $ cf top
As you can see in Figure 1, the spring-music application that was deployed on the PCF Dev environment is showing up along with two other system applications.
Figure 1. Cloud Foundry live statistics using the top plugin
The system applications are visible because we are logged in as the admin. To get more information on an application, select the application with arrow keys and press Enter.
Figure 2. Getting app details using the top plugin
This one is one of my favorite plugins because it saves me a lot of time normally required to copy and paste the application URLs. Once you have this plugin installed, you can open any application by using the command
cf open app-name.
Install the Open plugin
kn330@local-osx $ cf install-plugin -r CF-Community "Open" Searching CF-Community for plugin Open... Plugin Open 1.1.0 found in: CF-Community 7.63 MiB / 7.63 MiB [===================================] 100.00% 6s Plugin open 1.1.0 successfully installed.
Using the Open plugin
This will open the spring-music application in the browser.
cf open spring-music
The whoami plugin does exactly what its name implies—it displays information about the user. This plugin can be very handy if you have multiple Cloud Foundry distributions and have to keep switching between them.
Install the whoami plugin
kn330@local-osx $ cf install-plugin -r CF-Community "whoami-plugin" Searching CF-Community for plugin whoami-plugin... Plugin whoami-plugin 0.2.0 found in: CF-Community 9.22 MiB / 9.22 MiB [===========================================] 100.00% 7s Plugin Whoami Plugin 0.2.0 successfully installed.
Using the whoami plugin
kn330@local-osx $ cf whoami You are logged in as admin at https://api.local.pcfdev.io You are targeting the pcfdev-space space in the pcfdev-org org
The doctor plugin is inspired by
brew doctor and will show you a list of issues that currently exist in your environment. Homebrew is an open source package manager for Mac OS X. If you are an Ubuntu user, then
brew doctor is similar to the command
apt-get -f install.
Install the doctor plugin
kn330@local-osx $ cf install-plugin -r CF-Community "doctor"
Using the doctor plugin
Imagine that you have a dangling route that has no application associated with it:
kn330@local-osx $ cf doctor doctor: time to triage cloudfoundry Following routes do not have any app bound to them: Host: springer2 <---> Domain: local.pcfdev.io Total Number of Apps: 1 Total Number of Running Apps: 1
To fix this issue, you can delete the route with the following command:
kn330@local-osx $ cf delete-route local.pcfdev.io --hostname springer2 Really delete the route springer2.local.pcfdev.io?> y Deleting route springer2.local.pcfdev.io...
Now if you run
cf doctor again, everything should be OK.
kn330@local-osx $ cf doctor doctor: time to triage cloudfoundry doctor: Everything looks OK!
Although cf CLI is a powerful tool all by itself, plugins can make a developer’s job even easier. Other community plugins provide the capabilities to:
- Obtain a heap- or thread-dump
- Shift between CF environments with a single command
- Inspect, dump, and restore your MySQL database
- Manage application network policies
- Copy apps and services to another CF target
- Sync a local folder to a remote one to make changes on the fly
- Show which apps are using an installed buildpack
- Run the same command on all the apps in a space, org, or globally
The list goes on and on.
You can also write your own plugins that can be hosted internally or added to the CF community.
Don’t fall behind other programmers in the cloud appdev productivity race. Start using plugins with Cloud Foundry today!