When developing, it’s nice to run locally and connect to the same services and backends you’ll be using in production (instead of faking data or responses). The goal is to abstract out the differences between accessing them on Bluemix and accessing them locally.

Here is an easy way to do that without using a proxy and without updating your local environment variables for every different project you’re working on.

Note: this post is specific to using the Node.js runtime, but the same technique can be applied to other runtimes.

If you navigate over to your environment variables for a given application in Bluemix, you’ll see something like:

  "user-provided": [
      "name": "AlchemyAPI-2e",
      "label": "user-provided",
      "credentials": {
        "apikey": "YOUR_KEY"
  "mongolab": [
      "name": "MongoLab-bh",
      "label": "mongolab",
      "plan": "sandbox",
      "credentials": {
        "uri": "mongodb://username:password@host.mongolab.com:port/db"

When developing locally, I like making a VCAP_SERVICES.json file that is identical. I then make a vcapServices.js node module that looks like:

var vcapServices;
// if running in Bluemix, use the environment variables
if (process.env.VCAP_SERVICES) {
  vcapServices = JSON.parse(process.env.VCAP_SERVICES);
// otherwise use our JSON file
} else {
  try {
    vcapServices = require('./VCAP_SERVICES.json');
  } catch (e) {
module.exports = vcapServices;

This abstracts out the differences between running in Bluemix and running locally. To reference your credentials for different services, all you need to do is load in this module and use it like a JSON object.

For example, to connect to MongoLab…

import mongoose     from 'mongoose';
import vcapServices from './vcapServices';

var mongoUri = vcapServices.mongolab[0].credentials.uri;

Just make sure to add path/to/VCAP_SERVICES.json to both your .gitignore and .cfignore!