Building a Streamlit app from scratch and deploying it for free using Heroku


Streamlit is an easy to use python framework to build interactive apps. As opposed to fully featured frameworks like Django and Flask, Streamlit is very opinionated as it has fewer features, but the advantage is you can deploy Streamlit app in under 5 minutes with no knowledge of APIs or routes. Streamlit has recently gotten very popular, especially among data scientists as a quick way to present their findings.

Openscale allows you to sync your smart scale to your smartphone. It also has options to export the data, which I’ve synced with Dropbox to store in a particular folder. In this example, I’ll use the weight data export from Openscale to show historic variation of weight data interactively

This tutorial will have three sections:

  • Build - Building the app from scratch.
  • Package - Packaging the app such that it can be deployed by anyone on their local computer, batteries included.
  • Deploy - Deploying it for free on a publicly accessible website.


Basic Setup

Let’s start by creating a new folder as our root.

mkdir streamlit-openscale && cd streamlit-openscale

It’s a general practice for any sort of self-contained projects to start with by creating a virtual environment. There are very good reasons to use a virtual environment, which I’ll not go into detail here. Let’s create a venv and activate it

python3 -m venv venv && source venv/bin/activate

We’ll also need to install the libraries that we’ll be using for the project. Instead of manually installing them one by one, the standard approach is to create a requirements file which holds the information on the different libraries and their versions. Let’s create a file called requirements.txt which has the following contents.


Now, we install the requirements using the following command. This should take a few minutes to install all the dependencies. These will be installed within the venv folder keeping the dependencies completely contained within that folder.

pip3 install -r requirements.txt

Note: If you’re using git for version control, it is a good idea to add venv into .gitignore to prevent all the libraries from getting checked in

Now let’s add the entrypoint into the app. This will be the file which has the following content.

#!/usr/bin/env python3

from src.ui import run_streamlit_ui

if __name__ == "__main__":

The last thing to do as part of the setup is to create a /src folder and add the following empty files into it.

mkdir src && cd src
touch && touch && touch && touch

Your directory structure should look like this now:

├── requirements.txt
├── src
│   ├──
│   ├──
│   ├──
│   └──
└── venv

Just to make sure everything is working correctly till now, let’s edit and add the following content into it.

import streamlit as st

def run_streamlit_ui():
    st.markdown("## Openscale + Streamlit = Awesome")

Now run the following command in the terminal after moving to the root folder

cd ..
streamlit run

You should see a process running with an output similar to below.

  You can now view your Streamlit app in your browser.

  Local URL: http://localhost:8501
  Network URL:

You should also see the following screen if you navigate to localhost:8501 in your browser:

Basic Streamlit App

Your basic streamlit app is ready!

Adding the App content

Now let’s populate each file to actually do something useful.
import pandas as pd
from io import StringIO

def get_latest_file_name_from_dropbox(dbx, folder_name, username):
    files_list = dbx.files_search(folder_name, query=username + "*.csv")
    return sorted([(, str(x.metadata.server_modified)) for x in files_list.matches], key=lambda x: x[1])[-1][0]

def download_file_data_from_dropbox(dbx, folder_name, latest_file):

    meta, res = dbx.files_download(folder_name + "/" + latest_file)
    file_output = res.content.decode("utf-8")
    return pd.read_csv(StringIO(file_output)).query("dateTime!='0.0'")

This file contains the auxilliary functions required to get the weights data using the Dropbox API.

  • get_latest_file_name_from_dropbox - Gets the list of files matching a pattern from a particular folder and returns the latest one (most recently updated)
  • download_file_data_from_dropbox - Downloads the particular file from dropbox

Here is an example snippet of data after downloading from dropbox:

             dateTime  weight
0    2020-10-05 09:43    65.1
1    2020-10-04 19:14    64.0
2    2020-10-03 09:50    64.3
3    2020-10-02 20:27    63.7
4    2020-09-30 19:05    63.7
..                ...     ...
764  2018-08-10 22:07    67.7
765  2018-08-10 08:36    65.8
766  2018-08-10 08:35    65.8
767  2018-08-10 08:26    66.2
768  2018-08-10 08:23    66.2
from plotnine import ggplot, geom_point, geom_smooth, aes, geom_vline, geom_text, geom_label
from pandas import to_datetime

def plot_and_save(scale_data_df_cleaned, smooth_factor, temp_file_name):
    plot_output = (ggplot(scale_data_df_cleaned, aes(x='timestamp', y='weight')) +
                   ##   facet_wrap('~', ncol = 1, scales = 'free') +
                   geom_point(size=0.5) +
                   geom_smooth(span=smooth_factor, color='red')), width=13, height=10, dpi=80)

This file contains the plotting functions. Here I’m using the plotnine package which is heavily inspired from the amazing ggplot package in R.

  • plot_and_save - Plots the weight data and saves the plot into a temporarily file to plotted by streamlit
import os
from datetime import datetime, timedelta

import dropbox
import pandas as pd
import streamlit as st

from src.dropbox_aux import get_latest_file_name_from_dropbox, download_file_data_from_dropbox
from src.plot import plot_and_save

def run_streamlit_ui():
    st.markdown("## Historical Weight Chart")

    FOLDER_NAME = "/openscale"
    TEMP_FILE_NAME = "image.png"

    users = ["Alex", "Malavika"]
    default_start_date = pd.to_datetime("2018-08-01")

    username = st.sidebar.selectbox("Select User", users)
    date_start = st.sidebar.date_input("Start Date", default_start_date)
    date_end = st.sidebar.date_input("End Date", + timedelta(days=1)
    smooth_factor = st.sidebar.slider("Select smoothening factor", 0.01, 0.5, 0.12)

    dbx = dropbox.Dropbox(DROPBOX_KEY)

    latest_file = get_latest_file_name_from_dropbox(dbx, FOLDER_NAME, username)
    scale_data_df = download_file_data_from_dropbox(dbx, FOLDER_NAME, latest_file)

    scale_data_df_cleaned = scale_data_df \
        .loc[:, ["dateTime", "weight"]] \
        .assign(timestamp=pd.to_datetime(scale_data_df['dateTime'])) \
        .query("timestamp >= @date_start & timestamp <= @date_end")

    plot_and_save(scale_data_df_cleaned, smooth_factor, TEMP_FILE_NAME)

This is the main file which wraps over all the other functions. It has a single function which does the following:

  1. Setup the high-level variables
    • DROPBOX_KEY - You will need to get a Dropbox API key for to access the Dropbox API
    • FOLDER_NAME - This is the folder in which the exports from the openscale app is situated.
    • TEMP_FILE_NAME - This could be anything.
  2. Creates the inputs for the streamlit app
    • username - Name of the user
    • date_start - Start date of the plot
    • date_end - End date of the plot
    • smooth_factor - How much the loess curve should be smoothened
  3. Get weights data from dropbox
    • create a Dropbox connection class
    • get the latest file name from dropbox
    • download the data
  4. Cleans the data with the inputs for plotting
  5. Saves the plot into a temporary file
  6. Plots the image file on Streamlit

Running everything locally

Now that we’ve the app content also ready, we can try running it locally. As mentioned before, we’re providing the DROPBOX_OPENSCALE_ACCESS_KEY as an environment variable.

DROPBOX_OPENSCALE_ACCESS_KEY=<your_key> streamlit run

You should be able to the full output similar to below:

Fully featured App

I seem to be slowly gaining the weight I lost during the lockdown!

Deploying it in Heroku

Step 1: Add app in the Heroku dashboard

You can go to the new app screen once you’ve created a heroku account to create a new app.

Here I’m creating a new app streamlit-openscale-test.

Create New Heroku App

Step 2: Login to Heroku, create a git repository and add Heroku as remote

First, download and install the Heroku CLI. Then log in to your Heroku account and follow the prompts to create a new SSH public key.

heroku login

Step 3: Create a git repository and add Heroku as remote

Run the following command in your terminal to create a git repository in your root folder and add heroku git as a remote

git init
heroku git:remote -a streamlit-openscale-test

Optionally you can add github as a remote as well for version control

Step 4: Add the Heroku configuration files

web: sh && streamlit run
mkdir -p ~/.streamlit/

echo "\
email = \"<your_email_id>\"\n\
" > ~/.streamlit/credentials.toml

echo "\
headless = true\n\
port = $PORT\n\
" > ~/.streamlit/config.toml

Your folder structure should look like this now:

├── Procfile
├── image.png
├── requirements.txt
├── src
│   ├──
│   ├──
│   ├──
│   └──
└── venv

Step 5: Add the Heroku env vars

You can add the configuration variables, in this case DROPBOX_OPENSCALE_ACCESS_KEY in the heroku configuration page

Adding Heroku Config

Step 6: Deploy!

Once the configuration has been added, we can deploy it to heroku using the heroku command line.

git add . && git commit -am "heroku push" && git push heroku master

Check it out!

You can checkout a live version of the app here. Note that I’m running it on free dynos, it might take a little bit of time to load.