How do I use my domain apex on Aptible?

Note: this article assumes that you have created an Aptible Endpoint for your app, and that you have the Endpoint hostname (a string that looks like elb-XXX.aptible.in) in hand. If you don’t have one yet, then review that topic first.

Aptible requires that you create a CNAME from the domain of your choice to the Aptible Endpoint hostname provided for your app. Unfortunately, DNS does not allow the creation of CNAMEs for domain apexes (also known as “bare domains” or “root domains”).

As a result, the best approach is to set up a redirection from your domain apex to a subdomain that points to your app on Aptible. If you absolutely need to use the domain apex directly, instructions for this are provided below, but there are important tradeoffs to understand there.

In both cases, you’ll need a provider that supports ALIAS records (also known as CNAME flattening), such as Amazon Route 53, Cloudflare, or DNSimple.

If your DNS records are hosted somewhere else, you will need to migrate to one of these providers or use a different solution (we very strongly recommend against doing that). Note that you only need to update the NS records for your domain (in other words: you can keep using your existing provider as a registrar, and you don’t need to transfer the domain over to one of the providers we recommend).

The general idea behind setting up a redirection is to sidestep your domain apex entirely, and redirect your users transparently to a subdomain, from which you will be able to create a CNAME to the Aptible Endpoint hostname.

Most customers often choose to use a subdomain such as www or app for this purpose.

To set up a redirection from your domain apex to a subdomain, we very strongly recommend using a combination of AWS S3, AWS CloudFront, and AWS Certificate Manager. Using these three services, you can set up a redirection that requires absolutely no maintenance going forward and is easy to set up.

To make things easier for you, Aptible provides detailed instructions to set this up, including an CloudFormation template that will automate all the heavy lifting for you. To do so, review the instructions here: How do I set up an apex redirect using Amazon AWS

Option 2: Set up an ALIAS record directly to your Aptible Endpoint

Setting up an ALIAS record lets you serve your Aptible app from your domain apex directly (as opposed to redirecting to another domain), but there are significant tradeoffs here:

First, this will break some Aptible functionality. Aptible configures your domains so that if your app goes down entirely, a backup server is used to serve a maintenance page (which you can customize). If you set up an ALIAS record directly to the Aptible Endpoint, then that functionality won’t work. The extent of it not-working will depend on your provider:

  • Amazon Route 53: no error page will be served. Customers will most likely be presented with an error page from their browser indicating that the site is not working.
  • Cloudflare, DNSimple: a generic Aptible error page will be served.

Second, depending on the provider, the ALIAS record may break in the future if Aptible needs to replace the underlying load balancer for your Endpoint. Specifically, this will be the case if your DNS provider is Amazon Route 53. We’ll do our best to notify you if such a replacement needs to happen, but we cannot guarantee that you won’t experience disruption during said replacement.

If given these tradeoffs you still want to set up an ALIAS record directly to your Aptible Endpoint, please contact Aptible support for instructions.

The Enclave Platform