Developing websites locally with Docker
By Mike Street
I've never used Docker before and found it quite daunting getting started. It is something I've had my eye on for a while for developing my personal website in a consistent environment.
Docker can be used to create a custom environment for each project, allowing you to "spin" up services depending on your requirements. To develop this website, which runs on Craft CMS, I was after the following:
- PHP 7.2
Although there were a whole host of tutorials and StackOverflow questions out there, I struggled to achieve what I wanted. Along with the above requirements, I wanted to mount the current folder - so that all the development was contained with the local git repository.
I also wanted to persist the data in the database, so I could start the docker container and the local site would be ready for development.
This blog post uses
docker-compose functionality, which stores all the configuration in a file within the git repo.
The best way of getting started is to install the Docker Desktop app. This installs necessary tools needed to get you started.
Create the file
The next step is to create your docker file. In the root of your website (where the
.git folder is) create a new file called
The following is my configuration in two versions. The first is uncommented and the second includes detail comments - within the comments there are several square brackets which reference further explanation afterwards..
docker-compose.yml without comments
version: '3' services: web: image: 'flipbox/php:72-apache' ports: - '80:80' - '443:443' volumes: - "$PWD:/var/www" links: - db environment: APACHE_DOCUMENT_ROOT: "/var/www/html" db: image: 'mysql:5.7' ports: - '3306:3306' environment: MYSQL_ROOT_PASSWORD: craft MYSQL_DATABASE: craft MYSQL_USER: craft MYSQL_PASSWORD: craft volumes: - db-data:/var/lib/mysql phpmyadmin: image: phpmyadmin/phpmyadmin ports: - 8181:80 links: - db environment: MYSQL_ROOT_PASSWORD: craft volumes: db-data:
docker-compose.yml with comments
version: '3' services: ## Create the web service web: ## Use an image with PHP 7.2 image: 'flipbox/php:72-apache' ## Map the ports 80 (http) and 443 (https) to standard ports ports: - '80:80' - '443:443' ## Maps the current folder to the default linux web folders  volumes: - "$PWD:/var/www" ## Use database & credentials links: - db ## Set the web root to the html folder inside our repo  environment: APACHE_DOCUMENT_ROOT: "/var/www/html" ## Create the db service db: ## mysql 5.7 image image: 'mysql:5.7' ## Map the default MySQL port ports: - '3306:3306' ## Create database, username and password environment: MYSQL_ROOT_PASSWORD: craft MYSQL_DATABASE: craft MYSQL_USER: craft MYSQL_PASSWORD: craft ## Map to a persistent volume  volumes: - db-data:/var/lib/mysql ## phpmyadmin service phpmyadmin: image: phpmyadmin/phpmyadmin ## Map port 8181 to the service (e.g. localhost:8181) ports: - 8181:80 ## Use the db service links: - db ## Set a root user password environment: MYSQL_ROOT_PASSWORD: craft ## Placeholder for the persistent db storage  volumes: db-data:
 When using the standard apache settings on a linux server, the web root for the default site is located in
/var/www/html). This line maps the present working directory (
pwd- the one where your dockerfile is located) to the default
 With the
/var/www folder mapped to your current directory, you can then store the folder destined to be your "document root" in your git repository. This then allows you to store code out of the web root. In this example, the web root is in a
html folder inside of my code repository. This line informs apache where to find the code for the website.
 This creates a volume for our database which persists through creation and destruction of the docker container and means you don't have to load in your database each time you start your container.
Start your server
Once you have installed Docker Desktop and created your
docker-compose file, you are ready to get started. Open up your terminal and navigate to the folder where your docker file is located and type:
$ docker up
The first time you run this command, it will download the necessary images and start your web server. You should then be able to go to
https://localhost for SSL site) and view the contents of your
html folder in the browser.
To access phpmyadmin, you can add
8181 as a port at the end of the URL:
http://localhost:8181. From here, you can login using the credentials set in the file (username and password are set as craft based on the file config above) and access the database in your code.
If you would like to use
composer, you can open a new terminal window,
cd to your directory and run the commands as you have previously done.
To stop the docker process, you can press
ctrl + c and to process will stop.
If you would like to run docker in the background, you can do so by running:
$ docker-compose up -d
If you have done this, you can then stop docker with:
$ docker-compose down
Docker is a great way of making a contained local server for development which ensures consistency when setting up a development environment.
I would love to hear how you get on, or if you have any recommendations on how I can improve my docker file.