15 Dec 2015


This post is a tutorial for building your own Swiss Army Docker Container to support local dev for PHP. The examples I’ll give are intentionally opinionated, but hopefully they’ll be useful in portraying some concepts you can walk away with and apply to your own local dev and test environment.

(For a full example of these ideas in use, see Testing PHP Fliglio Microservices with Docker.)

What is a Swiss Army Docker Container?

What I’m hoping to show you, is how to build a container to support local dev only; this is not even close to a production grade solution! The goal is to be able to run your app locally for exploratory testing with live updates and automated testing. Additionally, it will take care of automation tasks like database migrations and facilitate testing strategies like allowing you to mock components.

Getting Started

The Dockerfile

Let’s start with the Dockerfile (or on github).

FROM ubuntu:14.04

# Ensure UTF-8
RUN locale-gen en_US.UTF-8
ENV LANG       en_US.UTF-8
ENV LC_ALL     en_US.UTF-8

ENV DEBIAN_FRONTEND noninteractive

RUN apt-get update
RUN apt-get install -y \
	php5-cli php5-fpm php5-mysql php5-pgsql php5-sqlite php5-curl \
	php5-gd php5-mcrypt php5-intl php5-imap php5-tidy php5-memcache
RUN apt-get install -y \
	nginx \
	mysql-server mysql-client \

RUN mkdir -p /var/log/supervisor
RUN mkdir -p /var/www

RUN echo "daemon off;" >> /etc/nginx/nginx.conf
RUN sed -i -e "s/;daemonize\s*=\s*yes/daemonize = no/g" /etc/php5/fpm/php-fpm.conf
RUN sed -i "s/;cgi.fix_pathinfo=1/cgi.fix_pathinfo=0/" /etc/php5/fpm/php.ini
ADD nginx-site   /etc/nginx/sites-available/default

# forward request and error logs to docker log collector
RUN ln -sf /dev/stdout /var/log/nginx/access.log
RUN ln -sf /dev/stdout /var/log/nginx/error.log

RUN /usr/sbin/mysqld & \
	sleep 10s &&\
RUN sed -i -e"s/^bind-address\s*=\s* =" /etc/mysql/my.cnf

ADD supervisord.conf /etc/supervisor/conf.d/supervisord.conf

ADD phinx.php /etc/phinx.php
ADD migrate.sh /usr/local/bin/migrate.sh
ADD run.sh /usr/local/bin/run.sh


CMD ["/usr/local/bin/run.sh"]

There’s a bunch happening there, but essentially I’m installing Nginx, PHP, and MySQL along with Supervisord to maintain running them all and a few scripts to manage utility tasks.

So let’s take a look at those utility scripts!


Run this to get supervisord to run all your services. By default it doesn’t do anything extra and nginx will serve your php app up from the default root: /var/www/httpdocs. If you set the environment variable DOC_ROOT however, this script will take care of updating your nginx config to apply that change.


if test "$DOC_ROOT" != ""; then
	echo using doc-root: $DOC_ROOT
	sed -i "s+/var/www/httpdocs+$DOC_ROOT+" /etc/nginx/sites-available/default


So now we can run it:

docker run -p 8080:80 -v `pwd`:/var/www/ --name local-dev fliglio/local-dev

Our current directory will get mounted to /var/www/ inside the container and nginx will serve up whatever’s in httpdocs (we’re assuming your project keeps it’s index.php in a folder named “httpdocs”).


I promised you database migrations before, and here they are! rather than try to accomplish this inside our first container, we will run a second container and just link in the first container so our script knows where to apply the migrations.

This script uses the mysql cli client to create our database (the name of which we will pass in with an environment variable) and Phinx to apply our migrations. This script discovers the address of the mysql server through the environment variables that are set by linking our local dev container to this one when we start it.




echo creating database $DB_NAME
mysql -h $MYSQL_IP -P $MYSQL_PORT -u admin -pchangeme -e "CREATE DATABASE IF NOT EXISTS $DB_NAME;"

DB_HOST=$MYSQL_IP DB_NAME=$DB_NAME DB_USER=$DB_USER DB_PASS=$DB_PASS DB_PORT=$MYSQL_PORT /usr/bin/php /var/www/vendor/bin/phinx migrate -c /etc/phinx.php -e dev

And we run our migrations (against the local dev container we talked about in the last section) with:

docker run -v `pwd`/:/var/www/ -e "DB_NAME=my_database_name" --link local-dev:localdev fliglio/local-dev /usr/local/bin/migrate.sh

This command will run a new container and apply the phinx migrations from ./db/migrations to your local-dev container.

Mocking Components for test

Docker doesn’t really help with mocking, but we can use it to specify how to configure our service. So with some clever organization we can make it so that when we’re running automated tests our application is configured with mocks instead of real libraries.

For instance, lets say your index.php looks like this:


$auth = new OAuth2();
$app = new Application($auth);


If we wanted to be able to test a resource in our app that requires a login, we would have to mock the OAuth2 library. What we can do is create an alternate index.php (and keep it in e.g. src/test/httpdocs) that bootstraps our app exactly the same as the normal index.php, but with a mocked oauth lib.


$fac = new OAuth2MockFactory()
$auth = $fac->create()
$app = new Application($auth);

class OAuth2MockFactory extends PHPUnit_Framework_TestCase {
	public function create() {
		$stub = $this->getMockBuilder('OAuth2')
			->will($this->returnCallback(function($user) {
				return true;
		return $stub;

Now we can set the DOC_ROOT env var used in the run.sh script and run our application with the auth lib mocked out.

docker run -p 8080:80 -v `pwd`:/var/www/ -e "DOC_ROOT=/var/www/src/test/httpdocs/" --name local-dev fliglio/local-dev

Docker & Make

To fully automate some of these strategies, you need a build tool.

You can use whatever build tools you like, but I like make. It’s close to straight bash scripting and simplifies maintaining all of the various ways we’ve been running our container.

Take a look at the Makefile used by the service rest-gs (More on this project in my previous posts: Microservices in PHP with Fliglio and Testing PHP Fliglio Microservices with Docker)



	docker run -p $(LOCAL_DEV_PORT):80 -p 3306 -v $(CURDIR)/:/var/www/ --name $(NAME) $(LOCAL_DEV_IMAGE) 

	docker run -v $(CURDIR)/:/var/www/ -e "DB_NAME=$(DB_NAME)" \
		--link $(NAME):localdev $(LOCAL_DEV_IMAGE) \

	@mkdir -p build/test/log
	@docker run -t -d -p 80 -p 3306 -v $(CURDIR)/:/var/www/ \
		-v $(CURDIR)/build/test/log/:/var/log/nginx/ \
		-e "DOC_ROOT=/var/www/src/test/httpdocs/" \
		--name $(NAME)-test $(LOCAL_DEV_IMAGE)
	@echo "Bootstrapping component tests..."
	@sleep 3
	docker run -v $(CURDIR)/:/var/www/ \
		-e "DB_NAME=$(DB_NAME)" --link $(NAME)-test:localdev \
		$(LOCAL_DEV_IMAGE) /usr/local/bin/migrate.sh
	docker run -v $(CURDIR)/:/var/www/ \
		--link $(NAME)-test:localdev $(LOCAL_DEV_IMAGE) \
		/var/www/vendor/bin/phpunit -c /var/www/phpunit.xml --testsuite component

(I’ve removed the tasks for cleaning up after our containers to make this easier to follow, but you can see the whole thing here.)

And there you have it!

# start up local-dev for exploratory testing.
# logs go to stdout and type `CTRL+C` to stop it
make run

# apply database migrations to the database
# on your running local-dev container
make migrate

# run testsuite "component" against your service
# running mocked versions of external deps
make test

Docker all the things!

I hope this has been useful and I hope you aren’t ever tempted to leave a HTTP api untested ever again!

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