Rails on Docker

March 13, 20222 minutes readprogrammingRailsDocker
Docker

The company I work for uses Docker containers, both in development and production, but the whole things is so abstracted away from the work I do every day as a software developer that I had never bothered trying to understand exactly what Docker does for me, or how to run a Rails application with Docker. Until now, that is.

I became curious about Docker while watching some of the latest episodes of Drifting Ruby, where I saw a few Rails applications running inside a Docker container. Wishing to learn more, I enrolled in a really good class called Hands on with Docker and Docker Compose, that taught me the basics of Docker and Docker Compose through dockerizing a very simple Flask application. Having finished that class, I enrolled in another one called Scaling Docker on AWS, by the same author. This second class promised to teach the student how to run, deploy and scale a Rails application inside Docker containers. The class is great and the instructor is awesome, but my only one frustration was the fact that the Dockerfile for the example application starts from a Docker image for Rails 4. There are no existing official Docker images for newer Rails versions. Instead, you are instructed to begin from a Ruby image while building your Dockerfile.

I tried adapting the example in the Docker documentation to dockerize a Rails 6 application, instead of Rails 5, but it didn't go well. Then, I came across the Docker for Rails Developers book and followed along using an image for ruby 2.7, instead of the 2.6 one used in the examples. This actually worked out really well!

First, I had to use Docker to run a bash terminal where I could use Ruby and start a new Rails application. It didn't really matter if I had that specific version of Ruby installed in my machine or not, since my terminal would be running in a container using an image downloaded from the Docker hub. The use of the -v option would make sure that all the content would be copied to my current directory.

docker​​ ​​run​​ ​​-i​​ ​​-t​​ ​​--rm​​ ​​-v​​ ​​${PWD}:/usr/src/app​​ ​​ruby:2.7​​ ​​bash

At the terminal prompt, I first installed my desired version of Rails and then created a new application skipping bundle install and tests, because I think I'd rather use rspec, instead. Notice that because bundle install was skipped, rails webpacker:install also never ran.

cd​​ ​​/usr/src/app
​​gem​​ ​​install​​ ​​rails -v 6.1.4.6
​​
​​rails​​ ​​new​​ ​​myapp​​ ​​--skip-test​​ ​​--skip-bundle

My Dockerfile ended up very simple:

FROM ruby:2.7
RUN curl https://deb.nodesource.com/setup_12.x | bash
RUN curl https://dl.yarnpkg.com/debian/pubkey.gpg | apt-key add -
RUN echo "deb https://dl.yarnpkg.com/debian/ stable main" | tee /etc/apt/sources.list.d/yarn.list
RUN apt-get update -yqq && apt-get install -yqq --no-install-recommends \
nodejs \
yarn \
&& rm -rf /var/lib/apt/lists/*
WORKDIR /usr/src/app
COPY Gemfile* /usr/src/app
RUN bundle install
COPY . /usr/src/app
CMD​​ ["bin/rails", "s", "-b", "0.0.0.0"]

With this Dockerfile in place, I was able to build my image and run a Rails server.

docker​​ ​​build​​ ​​-t​​ ​​railsapp​​
​​docker​​ ​​run​​ ​​-p​​ ​​3000:3000​​ ​​railsapp​​

I then created a simple docker-compose.yml file for my application

version: '3'
services:
web:
build: .
ports:
- "3000:3000"
volumes:
- .:/usr/src/app

And with that file in place, I was able to start my Rails server with a simple command:

docker-compose up

I noticed, however, that webpacker was missing. At first, I thought that perhaps I had to include RUN rails webpacker:install in the Dockerfile, perhaps right after bundle install. This didn't work out. The problem appeared to be that all the files webpacker needed to run were not there. So, I removed that instruction from the Dockerfile and proceeded to install webpacker by running a command in a disposable container.

docker-compose run --rm web bundle exec rails webpacker:install

The previous command installed webpacker successfully, but running docker-compose up again started my Rails server, still without webpacker running. Searching around for some information helped me realize that I needed to add webpacker as a service in my docker-compose.yml, so the server could be started and mapped to port 3035, because webpacker usually runs on localhost:3035. My application then would have two services: web and webpack. This is the latest version of my docker-compose.yml file.

version: '3'
services:
web:
build: .
ports:
- "3000:3000"
environment:
WEBPACKER_DEV_SERVER_HOST: webpack
depends_on:
- webpack
volumes:
- .:/usr/src/app:cached
webpack:
build: .
command: bundle exec bin/webpack-dev-server
volumes:
- .:/usr/src/app
ports:
- '3035:3035'
environment:
NODE_ENV: development
RAILS_ENV: development
WEBPACKER_DEV_SERVER_HOST: 0.0.0.0

Now running docker-compose up will start both services, thanks to the depends_on property.

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