Intro to Docker for Web Developers

Intro to Docker for Web Developers

Knowing how to use containers in application development is a must for a modern-day developer. One reason for the recent demand for containers has been the emergence of Docker. Docker has not only increased the use of containers, it has had a great impact on the way we approach application development.  If you are a developer who is yet to find a proper introduction to this popular technology, you are in the right place. In this article, we are going to introduce you to the concept of Docker and get a hands-on approach to learning Docker by dockerizing a simple application.  First, let’s clarify what Docker is and why it has become this important. What is Docker? Docker is a tool developers use to create, deploy, and run applications in an isolated environment through containers.  Here it is again, containers. Though this term is used a few times since the beginning of the article, you may not have an idea what a container is. In order to fully understand the above statement, we have to first understand what a container is. What is a Container and Why Do We Need It? A container is a software unit that packs application code and all the dependencies used in the application into a single package. Packaging allows the container to isolate the application from the host environment it is running in. The application sees the container as its environment instead of the host device. This abstraction guarantees that an application running in a development environment is able to run in a production environment without going through significant changes.  Even if several applications are running on the host device, the container isolates the containerized application from interfering with the operation of other applications and sharing their resources.  Before containers, virtual machines were used to isolate applications from the host environment. In virtual machines, each machine uses a separate operating system to run the application. Though this approach also achieves the purpose of isolating the applications, it has a downside of adding too much overhead on top of the application. Containers, on the other hand, share the OS kernel of the host device instead of using an OS of its own, which removes the overhead added by the virtual machines. This makes containers more lightweight and resource-efficient compared to virtual machines.  Docker vs VM Though containers have been in use long before Docker, it’s safe to say that Docker is the biggest reason for the extreme popularity of containers in the modern programming world. Other than being open-source, Docker’s ease of use, reliability, and efficiency made the programming world instantly fall in love with this technology. What are the Dockerfile, Docker Image, and Docker Engine? Docker comes with its special language. Dockerfile, Docker image, and Docker engine are 3 words commonly used among Docker users. These are also the 3 most important components used when building Docker containers.  Dockerfile Dockerfile contains a set of instructions to build a Docker image, which we are going to discuss next. These instructions will be run one after the other when creating the Docker image. Instructions in the Dockerfile contain information such as the host device’s OS, the programming language of the application, application directory location, network ports, and environment variables.  Docker Image Docker image is a template that is used to create the final Docker container for the application. We can generate the Docker image of an application by running the docker build command with the Dockerfile as a parameter.  » Read More

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