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containerize redwood sides with docker compose

  • Redwood
  • Docker
  • nginx
  • GraphQL


Docker Compose is a tool for defining and running multi-container Docker applications. With Compose, you use a YAML file to configure your application’s services. You can create and start all your services with a single command.

This example containerizes Redwood’s Web and API sides into individual containers that can be run with Docker Compose. The code for this example can be found on my GitHub.

Create Project

This example will start with a new Redwood project.

yarn create redwood-app redwood-docker-compose
cd redwood-docker-compose

Create the following files:

  • Dockerfiles inside the web and api directories
  • Nginx configuration file in web directory
  • docker-compose.yml and .dockerignore files in the root of the project
touch web/Dockerfile api/Dockerfile web/nginx.conf \
  docker-compose.yml .dockerignore

Set up API Side

To set up the API side we need to have CORS configured, an apiUrl specified, and a database migration applied to a production database.

Configure CORS

Our backend and frontend will each be in their own containers, and possibly on entirely separate domains. To ensure the frontend can query the backend, we will set origin to * and credentials to true in the cors option of our GraphQL handler.

// api/src/functions/graphql.js

import { createGraphQLHandler } from '@redwoodjs/graphql-server'

import directives from 'src/directives/**/*.{js,ts}'
import sdls from 'src/graphql/**/*.sdl.{js,ts}'
import services from 'src/services/**/*.{js,ts}'

import { db } from 'src/lib/db'
import { logger } from 'src/lib/logger'

export const handler = createGraphQLHandler({
  loggerConfig: { logger, options: {} },
  cors: {
    origin: '*',
    credentials: true,
  onException: () => {

Set apiUrl

Inside redwood.toml set the apiUrl to http://localhost:8911/api. If you are deploying this to a service like Fly or Qovery, you will need to set this to the endpoint of your deployed GraphQL handler.

  title = "Redwood App"
  port = 8910
  apiUrl = "http://localhost:8911/api"
  port = 8911
  open = true

Prisma Schema

Our schema has the same Post model used in the Redwood tutorial.

datasource db {
  provider = "postgresql"
  url      = env("DATABASE_URL")

generator client {
  provider = "prisma-client-js"

model Post {
  id        Int      @id @default(autoincrement())
  title     String
  body      String
  createdAt DateTime @default(now())

Add Database Environment Variables

Normally .env is contained in the root of your project, but as of now it will need to be contained inside your api/db folder due to Docker weirdness.

touch api/db/.env
rm -rf .env .env.defaults

Include DATABASE_URL in api/db/.env. See this post for instructions on quickly setting up a remote database on Railway.


Apply Database Migration

yarn rw prisma migrate dev --name posts

Set up Web Side

Create a home page and generate a cell called BlogPostsCell to perform our data fetching.

yarn rw g page home /
yarn rw g cell BlogPosts


The query returns an array of posts, each of which has an id, title, body, and createdAt date.

// web/src/components/BlogPostsCell/BlogPostsCell.js

export const QUERY = gql`
  query POSTS {
    posts {

export const Loading = () => <div>Loading...</div>
export const Empty = () => <div>Empty</div>
export const Failure = ({ error }) => (
  <div style={{ color: 'red' }}>Error: {error.message}</div>

export const Success = ({ posts }) => {
  return => (
    <article key={}>



Import the BlogPostsCell into HomePage and return a <BlogPostsCell /> component.

// web/src/pages/HomePage/HomePage.js

import BlogPostsCell from 'src/components/BlogPostsCell'
import { MetaTags } from '@redwoodjs/web'

const HomePage = () => {
  return (
        description="This is the home page"

      <h1>Redwood+Docker 🐳</h1>
      <BlogPostsCell />

export default HomePage

Scaffold Admin Dashboard

yarn rw g scaffold post

Set up Docker

We will have two Dockerfiles, a .dockerignore file, an nginx.conf configuration file, and a docker-compose.yml file to stitch it all together.



API Dockerfile

Our Dockerfile is using the node:14-alpine image. This may cause issues if you are on an M1 and want to build the image locally. Change node:14-alpine to node:14 if you encounter this issue.

We set our working directory to app and copy either the api side or web side along with .nvmrc, graphql.config.js, package.json, redwood.toml, and yarn.lock.

FROM node:14-alpine


COPY api api
COPY .nvmrc .
COPY graphql.config.js .
COPY package.json .
COPY redwood.toml .
COPY yarn.lock .

RUN yarn install --frozen-lockfile
RUN yarn add react react-dom --ignore-workspace-root-check
RUN yarn rw build api
RUN rm -rf ./api/src

WORKDIR /app/api


ENTRYPOINT [ "yarn", "rw", "serve", "api", "--port", "8911", "--rootPath", "/api" ]

Web Dockerfile

FROM node:14-alpine as builder


COPY web web
COPY .nvmrc .
COPY graphql.config.js .
COPY package.json .
COPY redwood.toml .
COPY yarn.lock .

RUN yarn install --frozen-lockfile
RUN yarn rw build web
RUN rm -rf ./web/src

FROM nginx as runner

COPY --from=builder /app/web/dist /usr/share/nginx/html
COPY web/nginx.conf /etc/nginx/conf.d/default.conf

RUN ls -lA /usr/share/nginx/html


Nginx Configuration

Nginx is a web server that can also be used as a reverse proxy, load balancer, mail proxy or HTTP cache. Don’t ask me to explain this code, but I promise it works.

server {
  listen 8910 default_server;
  root /usr/share/nginx/html;

  location ~* \.(?:css|js)$ {
    expires 1h;
    add_header Pragma public;
    add_header Cache-Control "public";
    access_log off;

  location ~* \.(?:ico|gif|jpe?g|png)$ {
    expires 7d;
    add_header Pragma public;
    add_header Cache-Control "public";
    access_log off;

  location / {
    try_files $uri $uri/ /index.html;

Docker Compose File

We will have two services in our docker-compose.yml file: web and api. Each will have ports exposed and a build that is set to the root directory for the context along with the corresponding location for the Dockerfiles.

version: "3.9"
      context: .
      dockerfile: ./web/Dockerfile
      - "8910:8910"
      context: .
      dockerfile: ./api/Dockerfile
      - "8911:8911"

Build Images

The docker compose up command aggregates the output of each container and builds, (re)creates, starts, and attaches to containers for a service.

docker compose up

Open http://localhost:8910/posts to create a test post and return to http://localhost:8910/ to see the result.


Check the image information with docker images.

docker images

Keep in mind that I am on an M1 so this image is much larger than it would be with the Alpine version of Node. To see different approaches to optimizing your container, see Dockerize RedwoodJS and redwoodjs-docker.

REPOSITORY           TAG       IMAGE ID       CREATED          SIZE
redwood-docker_api   latest    243369952fa0   57 seconds ago   2.96GB
redwood-docker_web   latest    c1610495648c   42 minutes ago   137MB

See the specific running containers with docker ps.

docker ps
CONTAINER ID   IMAGE                COMMAND                  CREATED          STATUS          PORTS                            NAMES
a4d2a221278f   redwood-docker_web   "/docker-entrypoint.…"   35 seconds ago   Up 34 seconds   80/tcp,>8910/tcp   redwood-docker-web-1
f5ab7bf289a9   redwood-docker_api   "yarn rw serve api -…"   35 seconds ago   Up 34 seconds>8911/tcp           redwood-docker-api-1

Test GraphQL Endpoint

Hit localhost:8911/api/graphql with your favorite API tool or curl. Send a query to the root schema asking for the current version.

curl \
  --request POST \
  --header 'content-type: application/json' \
  --url 'http://localhost:8911/api/graphql' \
  --data '{"query":"{ redwood { version } }"}'

Send another query for the title and body of the posts in the database.

curl \
  --request POST \
  --header 'content-type: application/json' \
  --url 'http://localhost:8911/api/graphql' \
  --data '{"query":"{ posts { title body } }"}'
        "title":"Docker Compose",
        "body":"How to compose a Redwood app"

Publish to GitHub Container Registry

GitHub Packages is a platform for hosting and managing packages that combines your source code and packages in one place including containers and other dependencies. You can integrate GitHub Packages with GitHub APIs, GitHub Actions, and webhooks to create an end-to-end DevOps workflow that includes your code, CI, and deployment solutions.

GitHub Packages offers different package registries for commonly used package managers, such as npm, RubyGems, Maven, Gradle, and Docker. GitHub’s Container registry is optimized for containers and supports Docker and OCI images. To publish our images to the GitHub Container Registry, we need to first push our project to a GitHub repository.

Initialize Git

git init
git add .
git commit -m "I can barely contain my excitement"

Create a New Repository

You can create a blank repository by visiting or using the gh repo create command with the GitHub CLI. Enter the following command to create a new repository, set the remote name from the current directory, and push the project to the newly created repository.

gh repo create redwood-docker-compose \
  --public \
  --source=. \
  --remote=upstream \

If you created a repository from the GitHub website instead of the CLI then you will need to set the remote and push the project with the following commands.

git remote add origin
git push -u origin main

Login to ghcr

To login, create a PAT (personal access token) and include it instead of xxxx.

export CR_PAT=xxxx

Login with your own username in place of YOUR_USERNAME.

echo $CR_PAT | docker login -u YOUR_USERNAME --password-stdin

Tag Images

Docker tags are mutable named references for pulling and running images, similar to branch refs in Git.

docker tag redwood-docker-compose_web
docker tag redwood-docker-compose_api

Push to Registry

Once you have tagged your image, you can push and pull the images much like you would push or pull a Git repository.

docker push
docker push

Pull from Registry

To test that our project has a docker image published to a public registry, pull it from your local development environment.

docker pull
docker pull