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Using the Digital Ocean API to Manage Your DNS

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Difficulty:IntermediateLength:ShortLanguages:
Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

DNS Hosting at Digital Ocean

In November 2014, Digital Ocean announced its newly upgraded DNS hosting service. In addition to being fast and reliable, users have experienced near instantaneous updates to DNS records. Any developer or system administrator can appreciate the advantages of this: no more waiting for IP address updates during system migrations. In this tutorial, we're going to expand the functionality of the console application we built last time to include management of Digital Ocean's DNS service.

Digital Ocean DNS Architecture

Again, you can download the free console application from the Tuts+ Github repository. I've posted a detailed installation guide for the console application on my website. You can also explore my generic installation guide for Digital Ocean apps.

While you can use the Digital Ocean web console to manage your DNS records, you may find it advantageous to programmatically manage them via the API.

Documentation for Digital Ocean's DNS API services is located across two main areas:

We'll focus first on configuring your domains and then on adding the individual DNS records.

Point Your Name Services to Digital Ocean

Before you can activate Digital Ocean's own DNS services, you need to transfer your domain nameservers to the Digital Ocean nameservers:

  • ns1.digitalocean.com
  • ns2.digitalocean.com
  • ns3.digitalocean.com

I'm going to add my StarWars.io domain for this tutorial demonstration. Here's my name server change at my domain registrar:

Changing Your Name Servers

You may find How to Point to DigitalOcean Nameservers From Common Domain Registrars helpful as well.

Using the Digital Ocean Website to Manage DNS

First, let's add a domain to Digital Ocean's DNS through its web user interface. Along the left navigation menu, click on DNS:

Digital Ocean DNS Web Console

Click Add Domain

Digital Ocean DNS Web Console Create Domain

Here's how Digital Ocean displays your DNS record. It's nice that it shows you the generated zone file below:

Digital Ocean DNS Web Console Domain View

Next, we'll add a domain A record for www.starwars.io:

Digital Ocean DNS Web Console Add Domain Record

Now, let's explore the API, beginning by downloading some of the domains and domain records we just created.

Synchronize Your DNS Records

First, let's download the list of our domains using the API. In our console application, click Domains in the navigation bar and click Sync in the right-hand menu.

The DomainController code looks like this:

The Domain model then calls our Ocean component functions and adds each domain found to our local database:

Here's the API code from the Ocean component to retrieve the domain list:

Here's the Domain model Add method:

You should see something like this after it completes:

Our Yii Console Manage Domains

Click on the manage icon in the starwars row and you'll see something like this:

Our Yii Console Domain View

Then, let's sync the domain records for starwars.io. Click Sync Domain Records—this will call the SyncRecords action in DomainController:

The DomainRecord model sync method looks like this. It makes a request for the domain name's records and adds each to the DomainRecord table in our local database:

Here's the Ocean component getDomainRecords method:

The DomainRecord add method is a bit more detailed:

Here's what it will look like after the domain records sync:

Our Yii Console Domain View After Domain Records Synchronization

Adding Domains From Our Console

You can also add Domains and Domain Records from our console manually.

Our Yii Console Add a Domain

Here's the code in the Domain model that invokes the API request to add the domain:

Here's the Ocean component addDomain method:

Then, sync the domain records and add your own:

Our Yii Console Add a Domain Record

Here's the DomainRecord model remote_add method:

Here's the Ocean component createDomainRecord method:

You should see something like this in our console:

Our Yii Console Domain View After Synchronization

Here's what Digital Ocean's web console will show—notice how our local view and the remote view are now identical:

The Digital Ocean Web Console Domain View

As you may have noticed, this code lacks robust error checking, synchronization, update, delete, and other bells and whistles. I leave that to you to extend as you wish.

I hope you've found this exploration of the Digital Ocean DNS API to be helpful.

Please feel free to post your questions and comments below. You can also reach me on Twitter @reifman or email me directly. Follow my Tuts+ instructor page to see future articles on related topics.

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