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Tilt for remote development


This section will show you how to do remote development using Tilt. It is very similar to the local development guide, the only difference being you will work directly on the remote Kubernetes cluster created in the Set up Development DOKS section. Application changes and reloading will happen on the fly on the remote development cluster as well.

Next, you will use Tilt to deploy the online boutique sample application to your development DOKS cluster.

The same approach based on Tilt configuration profiles is being used here as well. You only need to copy the environment specific configuration file (tilt_config.json) to your root project directory, and then run tilt up.


To complete this section you will need:

  1. Tilt already installed and working as explained in the Installing Required Tools section.
  2. A container registry already set up as explained in the Set up DOCR section.
  3. A development Kubernetes cluster (DOKS) up and running as explained in the Set up Development DOKS section. You need to have proper permissions to create namespaces and deploy resources.
  4. The microservices-demo GitHub repository already prepared as explained in the Preparing demo application GitHub repository section.

Remote development with Tilt

  1. Clone your microservices-demo repository if you haven't already (make sure to replace the <> placeholders first):

    git clone<YOUR_GITHUB_ACCOUNT_USERNAME>/microservices-demo.git
  2. Change directory to microservices-demo folder:

    cd microservices-demo
  3. Switch current Kubernetes config to your microservices-demo-dev cluster. Bear in mind that the context is prefixed using the do-<region_id>- string (e.g. do-nyc1-):

    kubectl config use-context do-nyc1-microservices-demo-dev
  4. All microservices Docker images are built on your local machine, and then pushed to your DOCR registry. A registry login is required first using doctl:

    doctl registry login
  5. Within the current directory, copy the dev profile configuration for Tilt:

    cp tilt-resources/dev/tilt_config.json .


    • Make sure to give a unique value for the namespace property in the tilt_config.json file to avoid overriding existing applications on the remote development cluster.
    • Make sure to change the default_registry value from the tilt_config.json file to point to your DOCR registry name as configured in the DOCR setup chapter from this guide.
    • Tilt configuration files will be excluded from git commits by .gitignore settings. Each developer customizes his profile locally as desired, and should not impact other team members.
  6. Bring the microservices-demo dev environment up using Tilt:

    tilt up

    You should see the following output:

    Tilt started on http://localhost:10350/
    v0.30.7, built 2022-08-12
    (space) to open the browser
    (s) to stream logs (--stream=true)
    (t) to open legacy terminal mode (--legacy=true)
    (ctrl-c) to exit
  7. Press the Space bar to open Tilt's UI:

    Tilt UI


    Please note that from the top left you can switch between Table and Detail view. Detail view offers a lot more information on what Tilt is doing such as logs from all Kubernetes resources. This may take a few minutes.

  8. Open a web browser and point to localhost:9090. You should see the online boutique welcome page:

    online boutique landing page


    Although you open a connection to localhost in your web browser, traffic is forwarded to the remote development cluster by Tilt.

Live Updates with Tilt

Tilt has the ability to reload and rebuild resources at the right time. Every code change triggers Tilt to automatically rebuild local docker images, and roll out new versions of your application pods.

Follow steps below to watch Tilt doing live updates for your application:

  1. Change directory to your local clone of the microservices-demo project directory (if not already). Then, open the src/frontend/templates/home.html file using a text editor of your choice (preferably with HTML lint support). For example, you can use VS Code:

    code src/frontend/templates/home.html
  2. Next, change one of the h3 tags to something different, such as:

    <div class="col-12">
        <h3>On Sale Now</h3>
  3. Navigate to Tilt's detailed view using the web interface. You should see the frontend resource being rebuilt. The updated docker image will be pushed to your DOCR.

  4. Finally, open a web browser and point to localhost:9090. You should see the online boutique welcome page updated with your changes:

    online boutique updated page


    Due to browser cache the changes might not appear immediately and for this reason you can hard refresh your browser to see the changes. On modern browsers this can be achieved by pressing Command + Shift + R on macOS, and Ctrl + Shift + R for Linux systems.

Next, you will learn how to deploy and configure the Nginx ingress controller for your development cluster (DOKS) to expose microservices to the outside world. You will also learn how to set up cert-manager to automatically issue valid TLS certificates for your applications.