Dart service: introduction, backend infrastructure

Table of contents

1. Introduction
2. Backend
2.1. Infrastructure.
2.2. Domain name. SSL.
2.3. Dart server application.

3. Web
3.1. Plug “Under construction”

4. Mobile


As a Flutter developer, acquaintances often ask me: “What is the Dart language?” They shake their heads with the words: “But Petya writes serious transports in Java, and in Yandex, in general, there are pluses in the sale …”. Well, perhaps, really, Dart is far from practice “factories to create factories“From Java. However, if the task is to implement client applications for several platforms at once, without drowning in the stream of tasks to synchronize developers of different target OS; to create a coherent UI, recognizable, but specific to Android, iOS and the web, and in general to meet an adequate budget and time frame – here Flutter has no competitors. And these questions are doubly important if you have … a startup.

So, the legend: a certain startup decided to create a new service … well, for example, for

sharing shopping lists

Such an idea for a startup, I know, but if I release another ToDo list into this world, I will be ashamed 🙂

between service users. The goal of a startup is to release MVP in three months on three platforms (plus the fourth – the server, of course).

10 years ago I would say that this case has no solution and would try to stay away from it, 3 years ago the ReactNative / React / NodeJs stack could become the solution, in 2020 there is Dart for this. Welcome to the atmosphere of the development of the alpha version of the service, I will try to visually go through and explain the entire development process. The code of all applications will be published in the public. Comments, including sketches and holivars, are welcome. You can ask the author “on the merits” or just ask for advice in Telegram channel our department.

Backend infrastructure

The typical way to host a server application is of course VPS (virtual private server). In fact, this is a part of a physical server in a data center, the resources of which (processor cores and RAM) are separated using virtualization technology (you can read about the most common hardware virtualization technologies here XEN, KVM). Attention: software virtualization technologies (Openvz, Virtuozzo) may not be suitable for our task due to conflicts with Docker and aggressive overselling (Often, upon careful reading of the lease agreement for such a VPS, you will find that providers guarantee “at least 5%” (!) utilization of the rented processor core. This means that the provider plans to sell our processor core 20 (!) times).

So, let’s get a budget VPS with the following characteristics: 1 processor core, 1GB of RAM, 10GB of storage (in my case, this is a hybrid HDD). We will choose Ubuntu as the operating system, preferably one of LTS versions. After that, an e-mail will receive a message about server activation with a login and password for access SSH (encrypted access to the console of the operating system of our VPS) in SSH format:

IP address:
User: root
Password: <Пароль>

Let’s check the connection by typing in the command line:

ssh root@

and, upon request:

password: <Пароль>

The result should be the output of information about the virtual server and the input field at the bottom:

Server is hosted by xxxxxxxxxxx

Kernel: 3.19.0-22-generic (Ubuntu xx.xx LTS)
Uptime: 09:07:06 up 3 days, 17:17, 1 user, load average: 0.00, 0.01, 0.05
CPU: Intel® Xeon® CPU 0 @ 2.00GHz (1 cores)
Memory: 989 MB total / 723 MB free

root@ ~ $

Congratulations, our virtual server has been created and is available for work.

Now let’s define the backend structure. We need an HTTP server. We will use NGINX… Its tasks will be:

  1. Serving static files (web application files).
  2. Distribution of service resources, for example, domain ownership confirmation files for mobile applications, owner information for obtaining Let’s encrypt SSL certificates, etc.
  3. Reverse proxy to access server applications.
  4. Encryption of connections – https.

Two server applications:

  1. User registration and authorization application. Let’s call it auth_app.
  2. Application with data. Let’s call it app.
  3. For each of the applications in item 2, we need a separate PostgreSQL database.
  4. Application for automatically obtaining and renewing SSL encryption certificates (in the next article).

It is obvious that such a “zoo” of applications must be isolated from each other, and also blocked from outside. For this we will use containerization technology Docker and container manager Docker compose… In the form of a diagram, this can be represented as follows:


We will conduct development in the IDE Visual Studio Code from Microsoft, which, thanks to the many available plugins, will allow you to work with all the necessary technologies. You also need to install the following extensions:

After restarting VScode, let’s connect to our VPS. Push F1 and start typing the command:

Remote-SSH: connect to  Host…

then a new connection:

+ Add New Ssh Host


ssh root@

Open the VScode terminal window (Menu / Terminal / New terminal) and check the system resources with the command:


Done, access to the VPS console and file system is obtained:

The top utility will be used quite often, so let’s install its pseudo htop version:

Ctrl-C #Завершаем выполнение утилиты top

apt-get update #Обновляем установленные пакеты

apt-get install htop #Устанавливаем htop 

htop #Запускаем 


Now you need to install Docker and Docker compose:

Ctrl-C #Завершаем выполнение утилиты htop

Since docker is not in the official Ubuntu repository, we will install an additional repository

apt-get install apt-transport-https ca-certificates curl gnupg-agent software-properties-common #Устанавливаем необходимые утилиты 

curl -fsSL https://download.docker.com/linux/ubuntu/gpg | sudo apt-key add - #Устанавливаем ключ репозитория docker 

add-apt-repository "deb [arch=amd64] https://download.docker.com/linux/ubuntu $(lsb_release -cs) stable" #Добавляем репозиторий 

apt-get install docker-ce docker-ce-cli containerd.io #Устанавливаем

curl -L "https://github.com/docker/compose/releases/download/1.26.1/docker-compose-$(uname -s)-$(uname -m)" -o /usr/local/bin/docker-compose #Скачиваем менеджер Docker compose 

chmod +x /usr/local/bin/docker-compose #Устанавливаем разрешение для загруженного файла «исполняемый файл»

ln -s /usr/local/bin/docker-compose /usr/bin/docker-compose #Добавляем символьную ссылку в директорию исполняемых файлов 

 docker  --version #Проверяем

docker-compose --version

Great, the server is ready to test deploy the service.

Now let’s install the Docker desktop on our local development PC. Installer for Windows 10, version for macOS here… Not only Docker will be installed, but also the Docker toolbox, which includes Docker compose and graphical utilities for working with containers.

Let’s open a new VScode window, Menu / File / Open folder … Let’s create a new folder for our project, for example, Srv and open it. In this folder, create a file docker-compose.yaml:


This file describes the script for starting the service containers, their dependencies, variables, commands, networks, storages, etc.

This is where we need to stop and clarify the difference between an image and a Docker container. A container is an application + its dependencies (for example, packages and libraries) + an operating system that you can run with Docker as a normal application. And an image is a container prepared for launch and packed into an archive. Thus, our entire backend will be a set of containers with a description of the script for their launch.

The first container that we have planned will be the NGINX HTTP server. And let’s prepare the necessary image … or not? The fact is that for many web applications and their runtime environments, the developers or the community have already collected the necessary images and placed them in the public registry. DockerHub… Of course, such a widely used image has already been assembled and awaits us on this link

Pay attention to the list – these are different versions, they differ in both the versions of NGINX itself and additional tools (for example, installed by PERL). For development, you can use the “latest” tag (the latest stable version at the time of the image request), but for deployment on the server, of course, you should use a specific version. At the moment it is an image nginx: 1.19.0

Hereinafter, I will indicate the necessary explanations for the contents of docker-compose.yaml in the comments in the file listing itself:

Let’s save the changes in the file, open the VScode console and execute the script launch command

docker-compose up

This command not only ran the script, but also sent the container console output to the host console. Now, if you access the local host on port 8081 in the address bar of your browser, you will receive the standard NGINX response:

Our first container is already running. Typically, the script is run with the command:

docker-compose up -d

this allows containers to be started in service mode (without console output). Stopping script containers is done with the command:

docker-compose down

There is a convenient extension for testing http requests in VScode REST client

Let’s install it and write the first debug test of our service. To do this, create a file client.http in folder test / http_dev /:

This way, you can run test requests by looking at the details of the server’s responses.

Now let’s take a look inside the container. Stop the script execution in the console:


and run with a flag:

docker-compose up -d

Now let’s request a list of currently running containers (processes):

docker-compose ps

There is only one container in the list of executables. Let’s open it up:

docker exec -it srv_web_1 bash

This command executes (exec) a bash application (Linux command shell) in the srv_web_1 container and prevents the console from closing (-it flags):

Command ls will show the standard Linux folder structure:

We are interested in the file /etc/nginx/conf.d/default.conf – NGINX settings, you can use the utility to view cat

cat /etc/nginx/conf.d/default.conf

There is one block in NGINX settings (the so-called location), which enabled listening on port 80 and serving static files from the container folder / usr / share / nginx / html… You can try making changes to the NGINX configuration file and restarting it with the changes applied, but when you restart the script, the container will be restored from the image and none of our changes will be saved. This is the wrong way.

Let’s exit the container console:


We will write our configuration file and place our static files, and at startup we will mount them in the NGINX container. Let’s create a file default.conf in folder /conf.d of our project:

Create a static file stub /public/index.html:

Now in the startup script docker-compose.yaml let’s mount our folders to the container file system:

Note that the contents of the project folder ./conf.d will replace the contents of the container in /etc/nginx/conf.d/, and the ./public folder will be mounted to the root folder of the container folder.

Let’s restart the script:

docker-compose restart

Test Request:

Let’s take a look at the file default.conf… Please note that we have disabled logging of access to static files access_log off… This is a good selling solution, but very inconvenient for testing and development. Let’s create a test NGINX configuration file /conf.dev.d/default.conf and script docker-compose.dev.yaml

Let’s stop the script:

docker-compose down

and run it with filename flags:

docker-compose -f docker-compose.yaml -f docker-compose.dev.yaml up

When the script is run this way, the settings from the file will be read first. docker-compose.yamland then the matching fields from docker-compose.dev.yaml (ports, volumes). Let’s check the logging by repeating the request:

So, we just need to copy and run on the server. Let’s create a folder on the server / opt / srv_0 / (we haven’t closed the VScode window with SSH connection to the VPS yet) and copy all the contents of our project into it with the command:

scp scp -r ./* root@ 

Now on the server in the project folder / opt / srv_0 / run the command:

docker-compose up -d

Let’s write another http test, now for a VPS:

Well, or open in a browser link

→ Source code github

Instead of a conclusion

So, the first step has been taken. We have successfully rolled out the application to the production server. In the second article, we will continue configuring the server: assign a domain name and install an SSL encryption certificate. In the third article, we will write a flutter web application with a countdown to the launch of our service, collect it and place it on our server. In the fourth article, we will write and build a native Linux server in the Dart language, which will become the basis for authorization applications and data for our service.

Comments and suggestions are welcome. You can chat with the author in Telegram channel

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