Deploy an app to the edge in about 30 minutes

Darcy CLoud Project Page

What you will accomplish

By the end of this guide, you will be able to make deployable Darcy AI application packages that will run on any hardware that meets the requirements for Darcy AI. The list of compatible hardware is extensive, allowing you to deploy your Darcy AI applications to the devices that fit your solution needs.

Software Requirements

  • Docker Desktop and a Docker account
  • Darcy Cloud account (Free)

Hardware Requirements


Package your app

Install Docker and create an account

Add a Dockerfile

To build your Darcy AI application container, you only need your Python file and a Dockerfile. A Dockerfile is just a text file with the specific name Dockerfile that tells the Docker command tools how to make your containers. You can include as many files as you want in your container. The commands for adding those files are discussed below.

FROM darcyai/darcy-ai-coral:dev

RUN python3 -m pip install darcyai

COPY ./YOURFILE.py /src/app.py

CMD python3 -u /src/app.py

The FROM command tells Docker which base image to use. It will build your application container starting from the base image.

Every RUN command tells Docker to execute a step. In the example above, the step is to install the darcyai Python library. We don’t include that library in the base image because that would make it more difficult to use the latest Darcy AI library. Using this single command in your Dockerfile, you will always get the latest Darcy AI library when building your container images.

Similarly, every COPY command tells Docker to take something from your local environment and make a copy of it in your container. Use this command to copy in files that are part of your application, such as .mp4 videos, .tflite AI models , and additional Python code files. The first part of the command is the source and the second part is the destination. In the example above, the YOURFILE.py file is copied into the /src/ directory in the container and renamed to app.py .

The CMD command tells Docker to execute this command when the container is started. This is different than the RUN command which tells Docker to execute the command while building the container. The CMD statement is found at the end because the container must be fully built before this statement. When the container starts, the instructions found after the CMD will be executed. In the example above, the instructions are to run the /src/app.py Python file using python3 and we have added the -u parameter which tells the Python3 engine to use unbuffered output because we want to see the output in the container logs unhindered.

Create a builder namespace for your build process

The docker buildx command line tool that was installed with your Docker Desktop will allow you to build and package container images for several target device platforms (CPU architectures) at the same time. If you do not have the docker buildx tool installed, you can learn about it and install it from the Docker BuildX Guide .

The first step is to create a named builder that BuildX can use. You can do that with the following command. Replace YOURNAME with the name you would like to use.

NOTE: If your installation of Docker Desktop requires you to use sudo when using docker commands, simply add the sudo to the beginning of everything shown in this guide.

docker buildx create --name YOURNAME

And now that you have created a builder namespace, let’s set BuildX to use that namespace with this command.

docker buildx use YOURNAME

Build your Docker container

Now that you have a working BuildX builder namespace and a Dockerfile in your current working directory where your Python file is located, you can do the actual build.

NOTE: If you don’t already have an account, create one now at https://hub.docker.com . You will be given an organization which is your username. Ensure that you are logged into your Docker Hub account using the following command by replacing the organization with your Docker Hub organization name.

docker login --username=organization

Run the following command in the directory of your Dockerfile to perform the build. You will need to replace organization with your actual Docker Hub organization name. Also replace application-name with the name you want to use for this container. The part after the : is the tag. You can put anything you want here. It is a common practice to put a version number, such as 1.0.0 in the example below.

docker buildx build -t organization/application-name:1.0.0 --platform linux/amd64,linux/arm64,linux/arm/v7 --push .

The --platform part of this build command specifies the platforms for which you want containers built. It is recommended to build for the list of platforms shown in the example here. This will allow you to run your Darcy AI application container on 64-bit x86 devices and both 64-bit and 32-bit ARM devices.

The --push part of the command tells Docker to upload your container images to Docker Hub when it is finished building.

Don’t forget the . on the end of the command. That tells the BuildX tool to look for your Dockerfile in the current directory.

Your build process may take 10 or 15 minutes if you are building for the first time and you do not have a very fast internet connection. This is because the underlying container base images will need to be downloaded. After the first build, this process should only take a few minutes. You can watch the output of the command to see the build progress. A separate container image will be built for each of the platforms specified in the command. Additionally a container manifest file will be created and added to the container registry (Docker Hub) so different platforms will know which image to download and start.

Make sure your Darcy AI application container is available

In the packaging process above, you specified a full application container identifier for your Darcy AI application. This identifier consists of an organization name followed by a / and then a container name followed by a : and then a tag. As an example, the identifier darcyai/darcy-ai-explorer:1.0.0 represents an application called darcy-ai-explorer with a tag 1.0.0 that is hosted under the Docker Hub organization darcyai.

You will use your container identifier in your application deployment YAML file below. Make sure your container images were successfully pushed to Docker Hub at the conclusion of your packaging process.

Deploy your app

Add your devices to the Darcy Cloud

The Darcy Cloud gives you management of all your edge devices and edge applications in one place. You can open an SSH shell session on demand, deploy applications, and see the health and status for every device. All of this functionality works no matter where your edge devices are physically located, even when they are behind NAT layers and firewalls. Use the Darcy Cloud to make building, deploying, and debugging easier, and then use it to operate your edge AI applications in production systems.

If you don’t already have an account, you can create one now for free. Create an account or log in at https://cloud.darcy.ai .

Once you are in your Darcy Cloud account, add your device as a node in your current project . Use the “plus button” in the bottom left to add a node. Follow the instructions in the pop-up window to add your device as a node.

Cloud Portal Plus Button

Create your application YAML

Here is a sample YAML file to work with.

kind: Application
apiVersion: iofog.org/v3
metadata:
  name: your-application-name
spec:
  microservices:
    - name: your-microservice-name
      agent:
        name: your-darcy-cloud-node-name
      images:
        arm: "YOUR_ORGANIZATION/YOUR_APP:tag.goes.here"
        x86: "YOUR_ORGANIZATION/YOUR_APP:tag.goes.here"
      container:
        rootHostAccess: true
        ports: []
        volumes:
          - containerDestination: /dev
            hostDestination: /dev
            type: bind
            accessMode: rw

You can find this sample YAMl file in the examples/deploy/ directory called app_deployment.yml .

Your application deployment YAML file contains the information that the Darcy Cloud uses to load and run your Darcy AI application on any device. Replace the placeholder fields with your own information and save the file with whatever file name you like, such as my-app-deploy.yml.

For the agent name, which is shown above as your-darcy-cloud-node-name you should use the actual node name from your Darcy Cloud account. This is the name that shows for your device which you added in the steps above.

Deploy your Darcy AI application

Now that you have all of the pieces, it’s easy to deploy your application to your device or any other device. In the Darcy Cloud, click on the “plus button” in the bottom left and choose “app”.

Deploy app animation

In the pop-up window, choose the “upload your app” option and you will see a drag-and-drop window on the right-hand side. You can drag and drop your YAML file into that window or you can click the " browse and upload" option and then select your YAML file.

Deploy App

The Darcy Cloud will tell you if you have any issues with your YAML file or your app deployment. It will also tell you if your Darcy AI application was deployed successfully. You can then check the status of your application using the Darcy Cloud.

Use your Darcy AI application

When your Darcy AI application has successfully been deployed to your devices, you will see the status running in your Darcy Cloud UI. At this time, your Darcy AI application is fully running on those devices. If your application has a live video feed, such as the demo application you built in the Build Guide at port 3456 then you should be able to view the live feed using the IP address of the device followed by :3456, e.g. http://192.168.1.20:3456.

You have accomplished a great amount at this point. Congratulations! You have developed a Darcy AI application and tested it with your IDE and local development environment. You have packaged your application for a variety of target devices. And you have made a deployment YAML file and used the Darcy Cloud to deploy and manage your Darcy AI application.

Next steps

Now that you have all of these foundation Darcy AI developer skills, you are ready to build full solutions. Follow the guide to Extend Darcy to build an app for your use case.