Why I created my own Digital Ocean CLI

Why I created my own Digital Ocean CLI



I have several side projects ongoing. And i don’t want to run them locally.
Instead i’d like to deploy them to Digital Ocean and work from there.


  • I want to go easy on my lovely Mac Air machine.
  • EdgeDB is one of the tools in my ToolBox™️ but it doesn’t work in my Mac (High Sierra)
  • I’d like to get acquainted with Digital Ocean.
  • Why not?!

The Problem

Since i have several side projects, deploying them is going to cost some money.
And i don’t need to keep them alive for now since i don’t have any users yet.

Solution 1: manually

The solution is to:

  1. Create a droplet and put my project in there.
  2. Save a snapshot when i’m done.
  3. Destroy the droplet

This works because Digital Ocean bills hourly on usage.
But it’s a bit tedious to do using the admin panel (easy but repetitive).

Solution 2: automatic

The good news is that Digital Ocean has got an API.
And I can use it to automate this little process.


First, authentication.

You can generate an OAuth token by visiting the Apps & API section of the DigitalOcean control panel for your account.

After getting the API key, i created a cli app using oclif.
It’s pretty straightforward. Here is the command that saves a snapshot:

class droplet extends Command{

async snapshot(id) {
let dropletId = id;
if (!id) {
const { droplets } = await fetch(`/droplets`);
const { droplet } = await prompt([
name: "droplet",
message: "Select a droplet to create a snapshot from",
type: "list",
choices: droplets.map(({ name }) => name)
const { id: dropletIdToSnapshot } = droplets.find(({ name }) => droplet);
dropletId = dropletIdToSnapshot;
this.log(`Snapshotting Droplet ${dropletId}`);
const result = await fetch(`/droplets/${dropletId}/actions?type=snapshot`);

Full source code here

Inquierer library provides prompt method which is very handy.
And we get a lot for free when using oclif:

  • parameter parsing and validation.
  • help in commands
  • structure
  • logging
  • and a lot more

Digital Ocean API is easy to use and well documented. The only thing i miss is the ability to create a droplet from a snapshot.
I contacted support about it, and they were very helpful.

Debugging method #1: Remove unnecessary libraries and abstractions

It turned out to be working using Curl. So i looked closer and added a Content-Type: application/json header. It works now 🎉

An alternative is using the official cli.
doctl compute droplet create test --region nyc3 --size s-1vcpu-1gb --image <snapshot_id>

That said, i highly enjoyed my experience with Digital Ocean and it’s going to be my provider of choice now.
It’s orders of magnitudes simpler than Amazon … and the UI is much more beautiful too.