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How to Build an Existing Web App Developed with Angular, React or Vue, inside a Docker Container

A Picture of Orlando Castillo
March 01, 2018 | Topic: Technology  
How to Build an Existing Web App Developed with Angular, React or Vue, inside a Docker Container

In this post, I will show you how can you easily build an existing web app developed with Angular, React or Vue; inside a Docker container, so that you can have a Docker Image, in the cloud, that can be used in a production environment.

Docker is the most widely-used provider to create containers. Containers are isolated processes that allow running applications by sharing system resources, such as the file system, resulting in more efficiency. This avoids the need to use multiple virtual machines to test applications in different environments, since containers can share the same operating system kernel. Not only is Docker important for development, but also for the deployment of software. In fact, my previous post focused on giving a better understanding of containers.

When it comes to choosing which JavaScript libraries are the most suitable to develop a web app, you will most probably have Angular, React or Vue in the list. In this article, you will see a few differences in their build process, but at the same time, you will follow essentially the same procedure in order to create a Docker container image for your web app, regardless of your choice.

Step by step guide to deploy a web app in a Docker Container

he following tools need to be installed on your system:

1.Downloading and compiling the apps

We will be re-using a simple to-do application. The to-do app allows the user to list, add, edit and remove to-dos. I developed the same app using the three most common Javascript libraries for web development. Get the code from Github:

You can find all the intricacies of each application in their file.

Clone the web app of you choice from the Github repo. Then, by running the following commands, the app will be built and the output artifacts will always be stored in the /dist folder.

Angular Commands

React Commands

Vue Commands

I would suggest using the Web Server extension for Chrome to see your bundled app working in the browser. In the extension, just set the output /dist folder (from the angular app) as the parent output folder:

web server

In this case, the to-do app should then be working in Next, let’s create a docker image with it

2.Configuring a Nginx image

Will be using Ngnix, which will act as our reverse proxy web server to process our app requests. Nginx will provide a lightweight image after running our Docker container.

We need to configure the Nginx image by adding a custom Nginx configuration file, that will help the Nginx server to redirect all requested URLs to the same domain.

Add the following nginx-to-do-app.conf file in the root folder of your prefered app:

All requests made from the base URL will be associated to the /usr/share/nginx/html directory, which is where the app will reside;  the index.html page of our project will be served by default; and finally, any not found page will be redirected to the index page as well. The server will listen from the high traffic, standard port 80.

3. Configuring a Docker Image

Since we are using the Node.js packages to build our app, we will create an image from a Node.js Docker repository. Also we need to run all the necessary commands for building the app when we create the image. The process is simple since each of our apps was created using the most appropriate CLI  (angular-cli, vue-cli, and create-react-app). In fact, every single CLI I used is based on Node.js. Let’s add a Dockerfile in the to-do-app folder (see comments in the file for more details):

Angular Dockerfile

React Dockerfile

Vue Dockerfile

From the Docker files, you can see that they are using the Docker multi-stages builds feature. This means that we initiate more than one stage in the same Dockerfile: the first one generates the build, and the other sets up the app using the Nginx web server image. That way we have the possibility to use only what we need from the original docker images (node and nginx), resulting in a really efficient output custom image that we can easily distribute to the cloud.

It’s worth pointing out  a couple of things: both the node and the nginx images are using the alpine distribution, which means having a faster and light-weight output image build. Also, we don’t necessarily need to use npm commands since the Docker team decided to include Yarn in their official node image.

When we copy the code to the ng-app folder we don’t need to copy the node modules directory. In order to do that, we are going to also add a .dockerignore file (similar to a .gitignore file for git) in the app’s root directory:


4. Build your Image and run your container with it

Finally, we need to first build our image with the following command:

Angular Docker Build

React Docker Build

Vue Docker Build

-t relates to the name of the container: for instance, orlando1409/to-do-app. And the dot(.) indicates that the Dockerfile is found in the current directory.  In our case will use the Docker Hub registry to store our images. So, orlando1409 corresponds to my user name, for that registry.

After that, run your image:

Angular Docker run

React Docker run

Vue Docker run

-p binds the port 80 of the container to the port 80 of the host machine. This mapping process also refers to the port forwarding method.

5.Pushing and pulling the container image to and from the cloud using a container registry

In order to store the docker images in the cloud, we can use one of the many container registries on market. I’m using Docker Hub, in this case:

Docker hub

However I could have used GitLab Container Registry as well.  The following are the commands for each of the images:

Angular Docker Push/Pull

React Docker Push/Pull

Vue Docker Push/Pull

Navigate to localhost (default ports 81, 82 or 83), and… awesome! you will see your app ready just as if you had it in a production environment.

localhost6. Running the three images using Docker Compose

 Docker Compose is a tool for defining and running multi-container Docker applications.

With Compose, we will use a docker-compose.yml file to configure the application service, in this case we will use it for our three web apps. The docker-compose up command will run all of the containers from the configuration. Don’t forget to stop your containers before, if they are already running.


Even though these apps are developed using different Javascript libraries, I composed their images for illustration purposes. Generally what you will have in real life is a .yml file configured to run multiple web apps developed using the same Javascript stack.

Bonus: Passing environment variables to the container

For each of the Angular, React and Vue repos I created two extra branches: dev and prod where you can find the additional Docker configuration that is needed to run each of the containers in different stages. This could be useful, when you want your web app to consume a development database, avoiding testing over sensitive or production data.


We saw that spinning up a web app inside a Docker container is a very straightforward process and can be done from a development environment, even from non-linux systems such as Windows or Mac. In this case I used the three most common Javascript libraries on market. I could have also added another library to the list, such us inferno.

On March 20 I will be holding a webinar to provide more details about how you can efficiently build web apps using the power of Docker containers along with the most common Javascript stack. Register here!

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