Skip to main content

Creating a Dockerfile


Before getting started, you'll need:

Creating needed files

This guide will walk you through the process of creating a basic Dockerfile for your application. First, let's create 2 files in your application's directory:

  • Dockerfile
  • .dockerignore

The Dockerfile is a list of step by step instructions for the container at startup so that it can run your application. The .dockerignore file will allow you to set certain files or directories for your Dockerfile to ignore.

Dockerfile example

Let's get started with a basic Dockerfile. We'll use Python.

FROM python:3.8-slim-buster


COPY requirements.txt requirements.txt

RUN pip3 install -r requirements.txt

COPY . .


CMD ["python3", "-m" , "flask", "run", "--host="]

Now let's break down each section:

  • FROM python:3.8-slim-buster: This line is telling the Dockerfile where to download a base image from. The base image also has its own set of step by step instructions, and will also download the tools and packages needed to run my Python application.
  • WORKDIR /app: We want to set a working directory within the container for my application. This tells Docker to use /app within the container as the default path for all subsequent commands.
  • COPY requirements.txt requirements.txt: We're telling the container to COPY the requirements.txt file and then I tell Docker where to put it. In this case, we are copying the file to /app/requirements.txt.
  • RUN pip3 install -r requirements.txt: Now we're instructing the container to RUN the command pip3 install for all of my Python app dependencies listed in my requirements.txt file.
  • COPY . .: Now that we have the Python base image installed, and all of my Python app dependencies, we now want to copy the source code into the image. We're saying COPY all files here . to my WORKDIR of /app (excluding any files/directories listed in my .dockerignore).
  • EXPOSE 8080: This command exposes the internal container port of 8080 so that the runtime running the container can access the image.
  • CMD ["python3", "-m" , "flask", "run", "--host="]: Finally, we're telling Docker to run a specific command using CMD. We're also making the application visible outside of the container using --host=

Your directory structure should now look similar to this:

|____ requirements.txt
|____ Dockerfile
|____ .dockerignore

These are the basic components of a Dockerfile. For a more specific template for your desired language, check out templates