Every computer application must have a method of storing, managing and using data. This requires an application and at least one database that can communicate with each other. Managing this connection can be difficult, especially with multiple databases. Fortunately, there are platforms that can manage databases and connections applications more efficiently.

Heroku offers a Postgres management system for creating, managing, and using databases. All you have to do is connect the database to the app using Heroku Postgres. Here is a deeper look at how to connect Heroku Postgres to MongoDB.

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Table of Contents

What Is MongoDB?

Let’s start with the database since it is the component that is the most essential. Databases store information to be used by applications. There are many database programs and languages available. The differences between them are how they are structured and what language they use.

MongoDB is a NoSQL (language that does not use SQL) system for saving, storing, and managing data. Its language is BSON, which is a binary version of the JSON language. It stores data in a spreadsheet-like array, making it considerably faster than SQL-based languages. 

MongoDB is a good choice for commercial use since it is faster and can store large amounts of data efficiently. It is especially useful in managing Big Data applications. 

What Is Heroku Postgres?

Heroku Postgres is a database management service offered by Heroku. Managing databases manually can be a complex and resource-intensive process. Companies often turn to management services to lighten the load on IT teams and make databases easy to manage. 

Postgres uses a SQL-based structure to manage information from other databases. It pulls the information in and organizes it so that the application can put that data to use. 

As a SQL-based system, Postgres can be managed using the command line or through an interface. Heroku creates that interface with controls that make managing Postgres operations simpler. Through Heroku, IT teams can manage database performance and conduct detailed performance analytics. 

Connecting Heroku Postgres to MongoDB

To manage your databases, connect Mongo DB with Postgres. Heroku makes this easier by providing a management system for Postgres, which is easier to use than doing it manually. To connect the two, follow these steps:

Set Up an Application

The first step in connecting Heroku Postgres to MongoDB databases is to create the application. An application is a set of code that you created to do something. For example, making an app for a smartphone is a collection of source code.

Essentially, you need to make the program that you want to run and use the database. When finished, your app will include the source code for the app and connections to any dependencies. You may also need to include a Procfile (more on that in the next section).

Procfiles and Executables

When the app is put together, you need to make it usable by telling Heroku what parts can be used. Heroku can generally figure this out on its own if you used one of the major frameworks for any of the languages that it uses. These frameworks have specific pieces of code that Heroku can look for. 

If you are not using one of those major frameworks, you may need to create a Procfile. Procfiles are text documents that identify what parts of an app Heroku can run. Create a separate document with the list that declares a process type and the appropriate command for the language it is written in. 

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Establish the MongoDB Database

Heroku makes it easy to create many of the components of an app that you need. Its web interface even has a simple way of creating databases. Once your app is finished, and you know what you need to include in the database, create the database. 

Create Credentials

Securing your data is essential, and a part of that is choosing who can enter the database. To do this, use Heroku to create credentials. In Heroku Postgres, you can easily create credentials for accounts that you want to give access to. 

Once created, you can manage those credentials from inside the system. This includes changing passwords, changing access permissions, and several other actions needed to run data security. 

Database Operations

There are several operations that you can do with databases through Postgres. One thing that you can do is clone your database. This is useful for trying to troubleshoot database issues and for creating new databases that are similar to the ones you already have. 

Another common action that is easy in Postgres is resetting databases. When you create a database, you provision it (set a portion of the space aside for that database). Resetting a database erases any changes and puts it back to exactly how it was when you first provisioned it. Essentially, it clears the entries in a database and brings them back to their original format. 

The third operation that Postgres makes easy is deleting databases. If you ever need to replace a database or start over from scratch, you can easily delete a database entirely. This is useful when databases become corrupted or you need to make a major change to your data management structure. 

Make the Connection

Once you have an app and a database set up, you can connect them. Regardless of which database you use, the process is relatively the same in Heroku. You just have to change the URI that points to the database that you want to use. 

In Heroku, go to the Settings tab. The area that you need is in the Config Vars section. It may be closed unless you have already added variables. If so, click the button that says, Reveal Config Vars.

Below the box that displays any variables that you have entered, the entry boxes that say Key and Value become available. This is where you will enter the URI that points to the database. The fields should include:

  • KEY = The name of the reference key for the variable (Example: MongoDB_URI)
  • VALUE = The URI for the database

You can get the URI from the database tool that you are using to manage it. Once both fields are filled, click the ADD button. If done successfully, Heroku will add the key to the list above. Now, your database should be accessible to your Heroku app.

Other Methods

Connecting MongoDB to Heroku is relatively easy. However, Heroku does not have built-in support for MongoDB. This may make it difficult to access your database unless the database management tool that you use supports MongoDB integration. To resolve this, use a database manager like Heroku to help you.

Prior to November 2020, the preferred method to connect the database and Postgres was through an add-on by mLab. It made the process easier and didn’t require coding. Unfortunately, mLab shut down support for its MongoDB add-on in November 2020. 

How Xplenty Can Help

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Despite the availability of first-party platforms to make coding easier, learning to manage apps and databases is still an uphill battle. Rather than spending a lot of time and resources trying to make this work, choose a third-party partner that can help you. 

Xplenty is a data management consultant that can help you develop better ways of managing, storing, and using your business data. Our team can help you securely integrate MongoDB with Heroku Postgres. 

Despite Mongo and Heroku making the process easier, there are still many issues that can stop you from using them efficiently. Work with us to make your data management systems efficient, secure, and easy to expand to your needs. Contact Xplenty to see how we can help you with your database management needs.