Deploying Apps

Deploying apps

Although ShinyProxy is ideal for hosting Shiny apps, it supports many other web applications, see the demos page for a number of examples. Regardless of the type of the app, the deployment process is the same:

Create or find a Docker image

In order to run apps on ShinyProxy, the app must be packaged into a Docker image. For most apps, you’ll have to create your own image, containing the code of your application. These images are created by writing a Dockerfile. The contents of the Dockerfile depends on the technology used. In order to get started, we provide demos for many different technologies. If you just want to give ShinyProxy a try, you can use an existing Docker image provided by the demos.

Give ShinyProxy access to the Docker image

In order for ShinyProxy to be able to use the Docker image, it must have access to the Docker image. The easiest way to get started, is to build your Docker image on the same machine as where you are running ShinyProxy. This way, ShinyProxy immediately has access to the image. Building an image is explained below or in the demo applications.

Once you start hosting more apps in ShinyProxy, it is better to store your images in a Docker Registry. This allows you to centrally store your images and push images into the registry from different machines. You can use any Docker Registry with ShinyProxy, you’ll probably be already using a provider that offers a registry, such as:

ShinyProxy will automatically pull the image from the registry if it’s not present on the server. Many registries require authentication, in this case the credentials must be added to ShinyProxy.

Configure ShinyProxy

In order for your app to show up in ShinyProxy, you must add it to the ShinyProxy configuration. The configuration of ShinyProxy happens in a single file application.yml. The location of this file depends on the way ShinyProxy is deployed. For each application you must add an application spec to the proxy.specs property. ShinyProxy supports many configuration options, but only a few properties are required for making your app work:

  • id: the identifier of the application, this is used in the URL of the app
  • container-image: name of the Docker image to use
  • port: the port on which the app is listening in the container

For example, to configure a Shiny application:

    - id: euler
      container-image: openanalytics/shinyproxy-demo-minimal

Note: by default ShinyProxy assumes that the app is using port 3838, which is the port used by Shiny. For applications not using port 3838, you’ll have to add the port property.

Restart ShinyProxy

Every time you make a change to the ShinyProxy configuration, you’ll have to restart ShinyProxy. If you are manually running the JAR from a terminal, you can stop it by pressing Ctrl+c. If you installed ShinyProxy using the deb or rpm packages, you can use sudo systemctl restart shinyproxy. Finally, when running ShinyProxy in Docker, you have to build a new image, stop the existing container and start a new Docker container.

Deploying a Shiny app

This section uses the steps explained in the previous step to deploy a Shiny application.

Create a Docker image

Docker images are built starting from a Dockerfile. The Dockerfile starts from a preexisting image and builds up the image command by command.

In order to simplify writing Dockerfiles for your Shiny apps, Open Analytics made a template available in the shinyproxy-shiny-demo-minimal repository, that shows how an app can typically be prepared for deployment on ShinyProxy. The app we will use in the example is named ’euler’ and allows to compute Euler’s number using arbitrary precision. In the repository the R code lives in the eler/app.R file.

In order to make these very precise computations the app uses the Rmpfr package for multiple precision computing

The following is a minimal version of the Dockerfile for this app:

FROM openanalytics/r-ver:4.3.3

RUN echo "\noptions(shiny.port=3838,'')" >> /usr/local/lib/R/etc/

# system libraries of general use
RUN apt-get update && apt-get install --no-install-recommends -y \
    pandoc \
    pandoc-citeproc \
    libcairo2-dev \
    libxt-dev \
    && rm -rf /var/lib/apt/lists/*

# system library dependency for the euler app
RUN apt-get update && apt-get install --no-install-recommends -y \
    libmpfr-dev \
    && rm -rf /var/lib/apt/lists/*

# basic shiny functionality
RUN R -q -e "options(warn=2); install.packages(c('shiny'))"

# install dependencies of the euler app
RUN R -q -e "options(warn=2); install.packages('Rmpfr')"

# install R code
COPY euler /app


CMD ["R", "-q", "-e", "shiny::runApp('/app')"]

Let’s walk through this Dockerfile step by step:

  • The first line of the Dockerfile simply indicates that the image starts from a pre-built image openanalytics/r-ver:4.3.3 which provides Ubuntu LTS with R version 4.3.3. This image is available on Docker hub.
  • The first RUN command configures R to ensure Shiny always uses port 3838, instead of choosing a random port.
  • Next, a number of additional system packages are installed from the Ubuntu repository using apt-get install. The ones listed are of general use, but for your application additional system libraries may be required and can be installed in this way. For clarity we have included the installation of an extra system library in a separate block: the R package Rmpfr requires the system library libmpfr-dev to be available
  • Then, there is a RUN command to install the Shiny R package, that needs to be present for Shiny to be functional at all.
  • The next step is to install any R dependencies your specific application may have - in this case the Rmpfr package for multiple-precision computing.
  • Once all dependencies are present, we can copy our euler app (existing of the app.R file) into the image.
  • EXPOSE 3838 instructs Docker to expose port 3838 to the outside world
  • The CMD statement, finally, instructs how to launch the Shiny app when the container is started.

In order to create an image from this Dockerfile, it must be built. Navigate into the directory that contains the Dockerfile. In our example this is the root folder of our shinyproxy-shiny-demo-minimal Git repository. Then, launch the following command:

sudo docker build -t shinyproxy-shiny-demo-minimal .

Give ShinyProxy access to the Docker image

For this example, we assume that you build the Docker image on the same machine as where you are running ShinyProxy. Therefore, the image is automatically available to ShinyProxy.

Configure ShinyProxy

In order to use the app, add the following configuration:

    - id: euler
      container-image: shinyproxy-demo-minimal

Restart ShinyProxy

See the above section.