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Last updated: 17 Oct 2023

Create a new application


This guide assumes the following:

  • You have completed all the steps in the “get started” guide of the developer docs
  • You are deploying an application named example (make sure to replace this with your application name in all steps as needed)
  • You have pushed the application source code to a Github repository under the alphagov organisation with the govuk and container labels applied (this triggers setup of a number of Github Actions secrets from the organisation and permissions required for workflows)
  • You have a Sentry project configured for your application (through govuk-infrastructure)

Allow your application to be built as a Docker image

Add a Dockerfile to your application. If your application is written in Ruby, this should normally be based on the GOV.UK Ruby Images. This should do everything necessary to create a standalone image for your application.

Note The best way to establish what you need to do is to find an existing GOV.UK application similar to yours, and adapt its Dockerfile.

Add Github Actions workflows

You will need to add (at least) the following workflows:

  • CI (to test your application)
  • release (to create new releases and version tags)
  • deploy (to build/push an image and trigger deployment by updating image tags)

Your Continuous Integration (CI) workflow will depend on the linting and testing needs of your application, but will act as a dependency for further workflows to block deployment in case of failure.

For the release and deploy workflows, you can copy the workflow definitions from an existing GOV.UK application (in .github/workflows).

Add image tag files to govuk-helm-charts

GOV.UK Helm Charts uses image tag files to keep track of the image tag deployed into each environment. Add an initial image tag file named after your application into the image-tags folder for each of the four environments, i.e. charts/app-config/image-tags/{test,integration,staging/production}/example:

image_tag: latest
automatic_deploys_enabled: true
promote_deployment: false

Add initial secrets to AWS Secrets Manager


In order to set up Sentry for your app, you will need a DSN from the Sentry UI. This must be manually added as a key/value pair to the govuk/common/sentry secret in all three environments.

Add app to app-config chart values

Start with integration

Start off by adding your app to the integration environment by adding it to the array of application Helm chart values in charts/app-config/values-integration.yaml. This can be as simple as:

- name: example

This will use the generic-govuk-app Helm chart to set up your application. You can find the default values in values.yaml in the chart folder, and amend your configuration’s helmValues value to override them.

For example, if your app needs a RETICULATE_SPLINES environment variable set to “1” in a given environment, your integration configuration could look like this:

- name: example
        value: 1

There are configuration options available for a wide range of different needs your application may have, from mounting volumes to disabling the default asset upload.

Validate your deployment

You can now trigger your Deploy Github action to push an image to AWS ECS, and visit Integration Argo CD. After a short wait, your new application will be available to find on the dashboard.

Continue with the other environments

Repeat the steps above for the other environments’ values files (values-staging.yaml and values-production.yaml).


You’ve deployed an application to the Kubernetes platform!