Introduction to Docker Compose

Docker Compose is a great way to define multiple container Docker environments. With Compose, you use a YAML file to configure multiple services for your app and start/stop them with ease.

Simply define the services that make up your app in a docker-compose.yml file so they can be run together in one isolated environment.

Use cases

Below are some of the main use cases of Docker Compose

Development environment

The Compose file (docker-compose.yml) makes it easy to define, document and configure all of the services (e.g. databases, queues, caches, web servers etc) that your app needs.

You can launch your entire development environment with one command

$ docker-compose up 

Automated testing environments

Docker Compose can fit nicely into a Continuous Integration/Deployment (CI/CD) workflow.

By defining your app's full environment in a Compose file, in just a few commands you can create and destroy these environments:

$ docker-compose up -d
$ ./run_tests
$ docker-compose down

Single host deployments

While Docker Compose isn't really intended to be used as a deployment mechanism, you can make it work with a little bit of elbow grease.

Quick start

Docker Compose file

The docker-compose.yml file is a YAML formatted file. For more information about the Compose file, see the Compose file reference


version: "3.7"
    build: .
      - ./:/app
      - "80:80"

    image: mariadb
      - ./storage/data/mysql:/var/lib/mysql
      - "3308:3306"
      MYSQL_DATABASE: homestead
      MYSQL_USER: homestead
      MYSQL_PASSWORD: secret

Starting and stopping

Start Docker Compose (and spin up all your services) with docker-compose up. You can stop with with CTRL+C (once for graceful shutdown, twice to force kill).

You can also run Docker Compose in detached mode with the -d flag: docker-compose up -d.

When running in detected mode, you'll need to use docker-compose stop to shutdown your environment.

You can also start a single service in your environment docker-compose up service-name