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.