Scripts to start and stop Play Framework application

Play Framework (I’m talking about 2.X version) has multiple deployment ways. If you just check the docs, you will notice it has few pages of instructions just how to deploy your Play Framework application. For me, using stage seems to be the best and most stable way.


When deploying an application, I always run clean and stage commands. The first one will remove compiled and cached files. Second one will compile the application and create an executable. Everything will be located in ${application-home}/target/universal/stage/. There you have a bin folder and inside simple script to run the app. We will create start/stop scripts to make our work a little bit easier.

Scripts start/stop

To run the application, we use nohup. nohup enables us that the application will run even when we close the terminal or logout from our development machine. As everyone says, it’s not perfect solution but it works. We run the command in stage folder and add additional parameters.

  1. -J-Server enables us to pass additional JVM related settings. In our case, we define Xms and Xmx for better memory management.
  2. We have application.conf for development and application-prod.conf for the production with different settings (database, secret key, API logins, etc).
  3. With -Dhttp.port we define the port of our application. We use apache to map the 80 port to 9000. It’s much safer and easier like this, because later we can have load balancer in the middle to divide the load to multiple application instances.

When running nohup, it will create a nohup.out file in which it logs everything (basically what application returns). Don’t confuse it with application logs. Application will still log everything based on logger.xml configuration independently of nohup. To prevent nohup.out file, we have to redirect everything to /dev/null and basically just ignore it.

On the end, we output the pid into RUNNING_PID file. Be careful. Play Framework automatically creates an additional file RUNNING_PID in stage folder. We add this as extra information and the file is removed after stopping our application.

When we want to stop our application, we need to get the pid. We read it from stage folder RUNNING_PID file and pass it to kill command. For safety reasons we wait 5 seconds just to be sure that application is stopped. We could have a running job which needs few more seconds to complete or save the state.

Extra tip

We can also pass additional parameters to our stage command. One of them is javaagent. If we are using some remote monitoring solution like newrelic, we can include jar to send application data.

To do so, we need to pass -J-javaagent:/path/to/newrelic.jar with all the other parameters. Be sure that you include the correct path, because otherwise it will fail to start the application.