Local Development Environment Usage

Use docker-compose to control containers set up for a specific project

Docker compose reference: https://docs.docker.com/compose/overview/

docker-compose allows controlling and "orchestrating" multiple containers that need to work together as the infrastructure for a web application. Usually, the definitions for the containers are stored in a docker-compose.yml file located at the root of the project.

Useful commands

  1. See active containers: docker-compose ps
  2. See logs of a container: docker-compose logs [container-name-as-specified-in-the-docker-compose-file]
  3. Stop containers docker-compose stop
  4. Delete all containers defined in the YAML file from disk (be careful this is destructive): docker-compose rm -vf
  5. Get a shell from a running container: docker exec -it [container_name] bash where container_name is the name of the container as written in the first column of docker-compose ps output

As the "docker-compose.yml" file is not versioned, it can be customized according to our needs.

Execute a build

The application builds in this Docker-based dev environment runs completely inside the containers, since the full stack is built into them. To automate and simplify the construction of the environment and the execution of builds, we use GNU Make as a task launcher, while the application itself is built inside the containers. Typically, a build is started with a simple command executed in the project's root, where the Makefile resides, like

make ENV=loc

If you are a control/performance freak and want to keep an eye on build time, just use the time command: time make ENV=loc, You can get some information about this system by typing `make help``

How to connect to services provided by containers

The availability of services (e.g. a webserver, a database server) hosted in the containers is provided through a special DNS service called dnsdock. In the docker-compose definitions, an environment variable is set (DNSDOCK_ALIAS ) for each container, and it declares which hostnames should be reachable through that DNS service. Don't forget that services might be defined also using non-standard connection ports, so that should be taken into account when trying to connect to services through a browser or some other clients.

Connection to services in a VM-based environment

Case: you are using a Mac, you have your development containers running in the "dev" Docker Machine (VM) and reachable from your machine, but you also want them to be reachable from a Microsoft browser running in another VM

  • edit docker-compose.yml
  • add these lines for the drupal service:
  - "80:80"
  • execute docker-compose up -d
  • edit the host file in the virtualized Windows system and add entries for the application domain(s): you should use the "internal" IP used by docker/dnsdock, not the one identifying the VM host
  • command to detect host IP from the host machine: dig @ a +short [host_name]
  • make sure that your local webserver (the one running natively in Mac OS X) is stopped

Debugging with xdebug

By default, xdebug is disabled inside the Drupal container. To enable/disable it, a couple of scripts are provided in the application codebase:

  • bin/enable-xdebug
  • bin/disable-xdebug

Vim + Vdebug

If you use Vim + Vdebug for editing/debugging, you must also set a Vdebug option to map the container's filesystem to your local filesystem:

let g:vdebug_options = {
    \ "path_maps": {"/var/www/html": "/Users/marcello/Development/sparkfabrik/project"}}

If you use SublimeText check here: https://github.com/martomo/SublimeTextXdebug path_mapping configuration.

PHPStorm + Docker

Check the bin/enable-xdebug file into the code repository and add into it, if not yet present, these following lines:

docker-compose exec drupal sh -c 'echo "xdebug.remote_host=" >> $PHP_INI_DIR/apache2/conf.d/docker-php-ext-xdebug.ini'
docker-compose exec drupal sh -c 'echo "xdebug.remote_port=9000" >> $PHP_INI_DIR/apache2/conf.d/docker-php-ext-xdebug.ini'
docker-compose exec drupal sh -c 'echo "xdebug.idekey=PHPSTORM" >> $PHP_INI_DIR/apache2/conf.d/docker-php-ext-xdebug.ini'

and run bin/enable-xdebug from the project root in the CLI.

Then go to into PHPStorm settings: Languages & Frameworks > PHP > Debug > DBGp Proxy and set the following settings:

  • Host:
  • Port: 9001

Open the menu Run > Debug > Edit Configurations and set the following settings:

  • Name: name of your project (it appears in the menu)
  • Server: the server set up for your project (if you haven't set it yet, I'll explain below how to proceed)
  • Browser: Chrome

How to configure the server:

  • Open the menu Run > Debug > Edit Configurations. Below the <no server> label click the 'three dot button'
  • Click the green '+' button at the top left of the window
  • Put the name of the server (it will appear in the menus)
  • Put the host (like `loc.www.CLIENT.VENDOR.sparkfabrik.loc)
  • Port: 80
  • Debugger: xdebug
  • Check the checkbox Use path mapping
  • Map the root of your project files with /var/www/html

Open PHP Storm settings and go to Build, Execution, Deployment > Debugger

  • In the Built-in server section, check Can accept external configuration, then press OK button.

Open the menu Run > Debug > NAME OF YOUR PROJECT (you have defined it before in Run > Debug > Edit Configurations).

Profiling with Blackfire.io

To use Blackfire.io for profiling applications residing in containers, these environment variables must be set:


If the container was already running, restart them like this:

docker-compose stop
docker-compose up -d

Backup of data container


Full backup of data container: make backup-data ENV=loc

You can also pass the VOLUMES arguments to restrict the scope, for example:

make backup-data ENV=loc VOLUMES=/var/lib/mysql

Please note that the volumes are specified in docker-common-services.yml:

  image: busybox
    - /var/lib/mysql
    - /opt/solr/example/multicore/multi/data
    - /var/www/html/sites/default/files


To import a data container backup tarball, use the following command:

make import-data ENV=loc FILE=backup-filename.tar,bz2

The file must be placed within the project root to make it recognized correctly.

Executing commands inside the containers

You might want to execute commands from a shell inside the containers. To do so, an interactive shell must be opened on the desired container, then you can have access to commands like drush, or other CLI utilities. We've set up a wrapper that allows a concise syntax for executing commands in container: bin/e (in the root of the "dockerized" project) The bin/e command refers to the codebase root as a base path.

To make life even easier, some aliases for bin/e commands have been created. The aliases can be generated with config/scripts/gen-aliases.sh (a .dist/template file ) which can then be "sourced":

  • Aliases generation: config/scripts/gen-aliases.sh
  • Import new aliases without having to log in again source .aliases

New PHP syntax checking tools

The tools to control coding standards AND also make some automatic fix about that. The most important thing when installing the requisites for the local environment is to download the git hooks used for validating the software. you can do it with a simple step:


In order to run automatic syntax checking and fixing, some aliases have been defined:

  • cs checks coding standards compliance
  • fix-cs fixes some coding standard issues

Managing possible excessive volume growth of the docker infrastructure


docker-machine ssh dev
docker run -v /var/run/docker.sock:/var/run/docker.sock -v /mnt/sda1/var/lib/docker:/var/lib/docker --rm paolomainardi/docker-cleanup-volumes --ver
bose —dry-run


docker run -v /var/run/docker.sock:/var/run/docker.sock -v /var/lib/docker:/var/lib/docker --rm paolomainardi/docker-cleanup-volumes --ver
bose —dry-run

Other useful commands when you're low on disk space

docker volume rm $(docker volume ls -f dangling=true | awk '{print $2}')
docker rm -vf $(docker ps -a | grep Exited | grep -v data | awk '{print $1}')
docker rmi $(docker images -f "dangling=true" -q)
Last updated on 2 May 2024