– Launch and run free open-source web applications in just 30 seconds – a WebFWD project

There is no longer any doubt: web apps are the focal point of the cloud. From database-as-a-service to platform-as-a-service to security-as-a-service and beyond, the entire *aaS model has the web app as its center of gravity.

If you’re a full-fledged developer, then taking full advantage of an app-centric universe is no big deal. Creating new web apps from scratch using frameworks like Ruby on Rails, Drupal, Django, or hundreds of others and then deploying those apps in the cloud is part of your daily bread and butter.

The mission

The mission of is quite simply to make it vastly easier for developers and non-developers alike to create and deploy their own web apps with a single click of the mouse. Launcher was founded by me, former AppFog director of product Maciej Skierkowski, and I have taken what I have learned in my time in the platform-as-a-service (PaaS) space and used that knowledge to make app deployment even more dead-simple than a typical PaaS platform does.

How it works

So how does it work? Launcher enables you to deploy so-called “jumpstart” apps with a single click. If you’ve signed up for a Launcher account, all you have to do is click on a jumpstart’s button and you’ll be prompted for basic information, and Launcher will do the rest of the work.

From there, you can manage your app however you like. Frameworks like Drupal, WordPress, or Concrete5 provide you with an intuitive in-browser interface for modifying your app, whereas frameworks like Ruby on Rails, Flask, ActionHero.js, and others will require more in-depth web development knowledge.

Launcher: great for non-developers

The benefit for non-developers is that it makes using all of these platforms easier than ever before. Want to start a new WordPress blog? All it takes is signing up to Launcher and clicking a button, and your blog is up and running in the cloud. The rest is up to you. Are you starting a company and want to set up Drupal to run your content management system and ThinkUp for social media analytics? Also a click and a few keystrokes away.

Launcher: even better for developers

For developers, the benefits of Launcher involve speedier adoption of new apps and frameworks amongst potential users. Let’s say that I’m a Java developer and I just created the most bleeding-edge CMS currently available. If Drupal is a Cadillac, then my new CMS platform is a fresh-off-the-assembly-line Maserati: it’s blazingly fast, it has a wonderful in-browser console, and it has millions of useful plugins that Just Work.

If users wanted to use my CMS in a pre-Launcher world, they’d have to do it the hard way: download it onto their machine, run appropriate configs to make it cloud-ready, learn how to use a VPS (or a PaaS, which is a very recent development), and so on. But with Launcher, potential users can give my new CMS a spin in just a few seconds and have it running in the cloud, and making my CMS Launcher-ready provides little to no modification on my part.

The app landscape is extremely competitive, and anything that can speed potential adoption that quickly is a massive win for me as a developer. Launcher is simply an unprecedentedly direct pipeline to my new SaaS product.

Under the hood

Surprisingly enough, Launcher is amazingly simple in how it works behind the scenes. When an end user clicks on a jumpstart, the browser makes an AJAX request to a remote service kicking-off a Resque worker that deploys the app with AppFog or Setting up an HTML page to handle a Launcher jumpstart involves simply loading the jQuery and Pusher JavaScript libraries and inserting a few lines of JavaScript (check out the docs for more info).

Your app will, however, need to be registered with Launcher to be included in the Launcher App Store. If you’re interested in doing so, don’t hesitate to get in contact with me, as I am looking to expand the range of offerings in the app store in the coming months.

He’s also looking to expand the number of PaaS providers that support jumpstarts. At the moment, Launcher enables you to instantaneously deploy apps on either AppFog or Cloud Foundry, but Launcher is in principle compatible with any Cloud Foundry-compatible PaaS API. If you’d like to add a new PaaS, simply go to the Providers page, click “Add Provider,” and input a name, API endpoint, and other information.

More on the way

Launcher is a new project, and has a great deal more in store for both developers and end users. Jumpstarts for OpenPhoto, Redmine, and SugarCRM, to name just a few are coming soon.

If you’re a developer, startup, or enterprise looking to take advantage of Launcher, email for more information.

About Maciej Skierkowski

I am the CEO/Founder of Launcher, a service to make it vastly easier for developers and non-developers alike to create and deploy their own web apps with a single click of the mouse. Before starting Launcher I was the Director of Product at AppFog, based out of Portland, Oregon. I just love making developers' lives easier.

More articles by Maciej Skierkowski…


  1. David Mulder

    After this entire blog post I was unable to figure out what the *point* was of the entire site… so I thought I would try it out which only gives “Failed to create app” errors… and then I realized you guys don’t even have a favicon and it hit me that this is probably some kind of joke or something :P .

    December 18th, 2012 at 11:06

  2. Maciej Skierkowski

    Failure to create an app obviously isn’t the expected behavior. Please use the “Feedback & Support” tab on the site to provide a little bit more details for us so we can fix this.

    December 18th, 2012 at 11:11

  3. xsoh

    Very nice!
    I have been waiting for project like this. Some times you need to try some web apps before you go on it and learn it. this is great idea to try and see.

    I have some suggestions. When I open the site actually didn’t know what is the point of it. So I return to what you wrote here and read it. I think it’s better to put some pictures on the right of the picture explaining the idea for example say something like that “try and modify wordpress or drupal in the cloud!”
    Good luck =D

    December 18th, 2012 at 22:32

    1. Maciej Skierkowski

      Thanks for the feedback. We’ll update the messaging to make this more clear.

      December 19th, 2012 at 10:12


    Nice service! I created an account just now to check it. It even created me an AppFog account, which I don’t have initially. I selected to launch a WordPress site, by the way. My only concern is that, it generated a crappy URL, which it refers as my newly built WordPress site. Not but as I have done nothing to configure it, but perhaps it should ask if I want a domain pointed to it or use a free subdomain. Tweeted it @IJobAsia anyway. =)

    Andrew at

    December 19th, 2012 at 09:51

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