This guide walks you through the process of building a Docker image for running a Spring Boot application. We start with a basic Dockerfile and make a few tweaks. Then we show a couple of options that use build plugins (for Maven and Gradle) instead of docker. This is a "getting started" guide, so the scope is limited to a few basic needs. If you are building container images for production use there are many things to consider and it is not possible to cover them all in a short guide.

There is also a Topical Guide on Docker, which covers a wider range of choices that we have here, and in much more detail.

What you’ll build

Docker is a Linux container management toolkit with a "social" aspect, allowing users to publish container images and consume those published by others. A Docker image is a recipe for running a containerized process, and in this guide we will build one for a simple Spring boot application.

What you’ll need

If you are NOT using a Linux machine, you will need a virtualized server. By installing VirtualBox, other tools like the Mac’s boot2docker, can seamlessly manage it for you. Visit VirtualBox’s download site and pick the version for your machine. Download and install. Don’t worry about actually running it.

You will also need Docker, which only runs on 64-bit machines. See https://docs.docker.com/installation/#installation for details on setting Docker up for your machine. Before proceeding further, verify you can run docker commands from the shell. If you are using boot2docker you need to run that first.

How to complete this guide

Like most Spring Getting Started guides, you can start from scratch and complete each step or you can bypass basic setup steps that are already familiar to you. Either way, you end up with working code.

To start from scratch, move on to Build with Gradle.

To skip the basics, do the following:

When you finish, you can check your results against the code in gs-spring-boot-docker/complete.

Build with Gradle

Build with Gradle

First you set up a basic build script. You can use any build system you like when building apps with Spring, but the code you need to work with Gradle and Maven is included here. If you’re not familiar with either, refer to Building Java Projects with Gradle or Building Java Projects with Maven.

Create the directory structure

In a project directory of your choosing, create the following subdirectory structure; for example, with mkdir -p src/main/java/hello on *nix systems:

└── src
    └── main
        └── java
            └── hello

Create a Gradle build file

build.gradle

buildscript {
    repositories {
        mavenCentral()
    }
    dependencies {
        classpath("org.springframework.boot:spring-boot-gradle-plugin:2.3.0.RELEASE")
    }
}

apply plugin: 'java'
apply plugin: 'eclipse'
apply plugin: 'idea'
apply plugin: 'org.springframework.boot'
apply plugin: 'io.spring.dependency-management'

bootJar {
    baseName = 'gs-spring-boot-docker'
    version =  '0.1.0'
}

repositories {
    mavenCentral()
}

sourceCompatibility = 1.8
targetCompatibility = 1.8

dependencies {
    compile("org.springframework.boot:spring-boot-starter-web")
    testCompile("org.springframework.boot:spring-boot-starter-test")
}

The Spring Boot gradle plugin provides many convenient features:

  • It collects all the jars on the classpath and builds a single, runnable "über-jar", which makes it more convenient to execute and transport your service.

  • It searches for the public static void main() method to flag as a runnable class.

  • It provides a built-in dependency resolver that sets the version number to match Spring Boot dependencies. You can override any version you wish, but it will default to Boot’s chosen set of versions.

Build with Maven

Build with Maven

First you set up a basic build script. You can use any build system you like when building apps with Spring, but the code you need to work with Maven is included here. If you’re not familiar with Maven, refer to Building Java Projects with Maven.

Create the directory structure

In a project directory of your choosing, create the following subdirectory structure; for example, with mkdir -p src/main/java/hello on *nix systems:

└── src
    └── main
        └── java
            └── hello

pom.xml

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<project xmlns="http://maven.apache.org/POM/4.0.0" xmlns:xsi="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance"
    xsi:schemaLocation="http://maven.apache.org/POM/4.0.0 https://maven.apache.org/xsd/maven-4.0.0.xsd">
    <modelVersion>4.0.0</modelVersion>

    <groupId>org.springframework</groupId>
    <artifactId>gs-spring-boot-docker</artifactId>
    <version>0.1.0</version>

    <parent>
        <groupId>org.springframework.boot</groupId>
        <artifactId>spring-boot-starter-parent</artifactId>
        <version>2.3.0.RELEASE</version>
    </parent>

    <properties>
        <java.version>1.8</java.version>
    </properties>

    <dependencies>
        <dependency>
            <groupId>org.springframework.boot</groupId>
            <artifactId>spring-boot-starter-web</artifactId>
        </dependency>
        <dependency>
            <groupId>org.springframework.boot</groupId>
            <artifactId>spring-boot-starter-test</artifactId>
            <scope>test</scope>
        </dependency>
    </dependencies>


    <build>
        <plugins>
            <plugin>
                <groupId>org.springframework.boot</groupId>
                <artifactId>spring-boot-maven-plugin</artifactId>
            </plugin>
        </plugins>
    </build>

</project>

The Spring Boot Maven plugin provides many convenient features:

  • It collects all the jars on the classpath and builds a single, runnable "über-jar", which makes it more convenient to execute and transport your service.

  • It searches for the public static void main() method to flag as a runnable class.

  • It provides a built-in dependency resolver that sets the version number to match Spring Boot dependencies. You can override any version you wish, but it will default to Boot’s chosen set of versions.

Build with your IDE

Build with your IDE

Set up a Spring Boot app

Now you can create a simple application.

src/main/java/hello/Application.java

package hello;

import org.springframework.boot.SpringApplication;
import org.springframework.boot.autoconfigure.SpringBootApplication;
import org.springframework.web.bind.annotation.RequestMapping;
import org.springframework.web.bind.annotation.RestController;

@SpringBootApplication
@RestController
public class Application {

  @RequestMapping("/")
  public String home() {
    return "Hello Docker World";
  }

  public static void main(String[] args) {
    SpringApplication.run(Application.class, args);
  }

}

The class is flagged as a @SpringBootApplication and as a @RestController, meaning it’s ready for use by Spring MVC to handle web requests. @RequestMapping maps / to the home() method which just sends a 'Hello World' response. The main() method uses Spring Boot’s SpringApplication.run() method to launch an application.

Now we can run the application without the Docker container (i.e. in the host OS).

If you are using Gradle, execute:

./gradlew build && java -jar build/libs/gs-spring-boot-docker-0.1.0.jar

If you are using Maven, execute:

./mvnw package && java -jar target/gs-spring-boot-docker-0.1.0.jar

and go to localhost:8080 to see your "Hello Docker World" message.

Containerize It

Docker has a simple "Dockerfile" file format that it uses to specify the "layers" of an image. So let’s go ahead and create a Dockerfile in our Spring Boot project:

Dockerfile

FROM openjdk:8-jdk-alpine
ARG JAR_FILE=target/*.jar
COPY ${JAR_FILE} app.jar
ENTRYPOINT ["java","-jar","/app.jar"]

You can run it (if you are using Maven) with

$ docker build -t springio/gs-spring-boot-docker .

or (if you are using Gradle):

$ docker build --build-arg JAR_FILE=build/libs/*.jar -t springio/gs-spring-boot-docker .

This command builds an image and tags it as springio/gs-spring-boot-docker.

This Dockerfile is very simple, but that’s all you need to run a Spring Boot app with no frills: just Java and a JAR file. The build will create a spring user and a spring group to run the application. It will then COPY the project JAR file into the container as "app.jar" that will be executed in the ENTRYPOINT. The array form of the Dockerfile ENTRYPOINT is used so that there is no shell wrapping the java process. The Topical Guide on Docker goes into this topic in more detail.

To reduce Tomcat startup time we formerly added a system property pointing to "/dev/urandom" as a source of entropy. This is not necessary anymore with JDK 8 or later.

Running applications with user privileges helps to mitigate some risks (see for example a thread on StackExchange). So, an important improvement to the Dockerfile is to run the app as a non-root user:

Dockerfile

FROM openjdk:8-jdk-alpine
RUN addgroup -S spring && adduser -S spring -G spring
USER spring:spring
ARG JAR_FILE=target/*.jar
COPY ${JAR_FILE} app.jar
ENTRYPOINT ["java","-jar","/app.jar"]

You can see the username in the application startup logs (note the "started by" in the first INFO log):

$ docker build -t springio/gs-spring-boot-docker .
$ docker run -p 8080:8080 springio/gs-spring-boot-docker

  .   ____          _            __ _ _
 /\\ / ___'_ __ _ _(_)_ __  __ _ \ \ \ \
( ( )\___ | '_ | '_| | '_ \/ _` | \ \ \ \
 \\/  ___)| |_)| | | | | || (_| |  ) ) ) )
  '  |____| .__|_| |_|_| |_\__, | / / / /
 =========|_|==============|___/=/_/_/_/
 :: Spring Boot ::        (v2.2.1.RELEASE)

2020-04-23 07:29:41.729  INFO 1 --- [           main] hello.Application                        : Starting Application on b94c86e91cf9 with PID 1 (/app started by spring in /)
...

Also, there is a clean separation between dependencies and application resources in a Spring Boot fat jar file, and we can use that fact to improve performance. The key is to create layers in the container filesystem. The layers are cached both at build time and at runtime (in most runtimes) so we want the most frequently changing resources, usually the class and static resources in the application itself, to be layered after the more slowly changing resources. Thus we will use a slightly different implementation of the Dockerfile:

Dockerfile

FROM openjdk:8-jdk-alpine
RUN addgroup -S spring && adduser -S spring -G spring
USER spring:spring
ARG DEPENDENCY=target/dependency
COPY ${DEPENDENCY}/BOOT-INF/lib /app/lib
COPY ${DEPENDENCY}/META-INF /app/META-INF
COPY ${DEPENDENCY}/BOOT-INF/classes /app
ENTRYPOINT ["java","-cp","app:app/lib/*","hello.Application"]

This Dockerfile has a DEPENDENCY parameter pointing to a directory where we have unpacked the fat jar. From a Maven build:

$ mkdir -p target/dependency && (cd target/dependency; jar -xf ../*.jar)

or from a Gradle build:

$ mkdir -p build/dependency && (cd build/dependency; jar -xf ../libs/*.jar)

If we get that right, it already contains a BOOT-INF/lib directory with the dependency jars in it, and a BOOT-INF/classes directory with the application classes in it. Notice that we are using the application’s own main class hello.Application (this is faster than using the indirection provided by the fat jar launcher).

Exploding the jar file can result in the classpath order being different at runtime. A well-behaved and well-written application should not care about this, but you may see behaviour changes if the dependencies are not carefully managed.
If you are using boot2docker you need to run it first before you do anything with the Docker command line or with the build tools (it runs a daemon process that handles the work for you in a virtual machine).

To build the image you can use the Docker command line. For example:

$ docker build -t springio/gs-spring-boot-docker .

From a Gradle build, add the explicit build args:

$ docker build --build-arg DEPENDENCY=build/dependency -t springio/gs-spring-boot-docker .
Of course if you only used Gradle, you could just change the Dockerfile to make the default value of DEPENDENCY match the location of the unpacked archive.

Instead of building with the Docker command line, you might want to use a build plugin. Spring Boot supports building a container from Maven or Gradle using its own build plugin. Google also has an open source tool called Jib that has Maven and Gradle plugins. Probably the most interesting thing about this approach is that you don’t need a Dockerfile. You build the image using the same standard container format as you get from docker build - and it can work in environments where docker is not installed (not uncommon in build servers).

The images generated by the default buildpacks by default do not run your application as root. Check the configuration guide for Maven or Gradle for how to change the default settings.

Build a Docker Image with Maven

To get started quickly, you can run the Spring Boot image generator without even changing your pom.xml (and remember the Dockerfile if it is still there is ignored):

$ ./mvnw spring-boot:build-image -Dspring-boot.build-image.imageName=springio/gs-spring-boot-docker

To push to a Docker registry you will need to have permission to push, which you won’t have by default. Change the image prefix to your own Dockerhub ID, and docker login to make sure you are authenticated before you run Docker.

Build a Docker Image with Gradle

You can build a tagged docker image with Gradle in one command:

$ ./gradlew bootBuildImage --imageName=springio/gs-spring-boot-docker

After the Push

A "docker push" in the example will fail for you (unless you are part of the "springio" organization at Dockerhub), but if you change the configuration to match your own docker ID then it should succeed, and you will have a new tagged, deployed image.

You do NOT have to register with docker or publish anything to run a docker image that was built locally. If you built with Docker (from the command line or from Sprng Boot), you still have a locally tagged image, and you can run it like this:

$ docker run -p 8080:8080 -t springio/gs-spring-boot-docker
Container memory limit unset. Configuring JVM for 1G container.
Calculated JVM Memory Configuration: -XX:MaxDirectMemorySize=10M -XX:MaxMetaspaceSize=86381K -XX:ReservedCodeCacheSize=240M -Xss1M -Xmx450194K (Head Room: 0%, Loaded Class Count: 12837, Thread Count: 250, Total Memory: 1073741824)
....
2015-03-31 13:25:48.035  INFO 1 --- [           main] s.b.c.e.t.TomcatEmbeddedServletContainer : Tomcat started on port(s): 8080 (http)
2015-03-31 13:25:48.037  INFO 1 --- [           main] hello.Application                        : Started Application in 5.613 seconds (JVM running for 7.293)
The CF memory calculator is used at runtime to size the JVM to fit the container.

The application is then available on http://localhost:8080 (visit that and it says "Hello Docker World").

When using a Mac with boot2docker, you typically see things like this at startup:

Docker client to the Docker daemon, please set:
    export DOCKER_CERT_PATH=/Users/gturnquist/.boot2docker/certs/boot2docker-vm
    export DOCKER_TLS_VERIFY=1
    export DOCKER_HOST=tcp://192.168.59.103:2376

To see the app, you must visit the IP address in DOCKER_HOST instead of localhost. In this case, https://192.168.59.103:8080, the public facing IP of the VM.

When it is running you can see in the list of containers, e.g:

$ docker ps
CONTAINER ID        IMAGE                                   COMMAND                  CREATED             STATUS              PORTS                    NAMES
81c723d22865        springio/gs-spring-boot-docker:latest   "java -Djava.secur..."   34 seconds ago      Up 33 seconds       0.0.0.0:8080->8080/tcp   goofy_brown

and to shut it down again you can docker stop with the container ID from the listing above (yours will be different):

$ docker stop goofy_brown
81c723d22865

If you like you can also delete the container (it is persisted in your filesystem under /var/lib/docker somewhere) when you are finished with it:

$ docker rm goofy_brown

Using Spring Profiles

Running your freshly minted Docker image with Spring profiles is as easy as passing an environment variable to the Docker run command

$ docker run -e "SPRING_PROFILES_ACTIVE=prod" -p 8080:8080 -t springio/gs-spring-boot-docker

or

$ docker run -e "SPRING_PROFILES_ACTIVE=dev" -p 8080:8080 -t springio/gs-spring-boot-docker

Debugging the application in a Docker container

To debug the application JPDA Transport can be used. So we’ll treat the container like a remote server. To enable this feature pass a java agent settings in JAVA_OPTS variable and map agent’s port to localhost during a container run. With the Docker for Mac there is limitation due to that we can’t access container by IP without black magic usage.

$ docker run -e "JAVA_TOOL_OPTIONS=-agentlib:jdwp=transport=dt_socket,address=5005,server=y,suspend=n" -p 8080:8080 -p 5005:5005 -t springio/gs-spring-boot-docker

Summary

Congratulations! You’ve just created a Docker container for a Spring Boot app! Spring Boot apps run on port 8080 inside the container by default and we mapped that to the same port on the host using "-p" on the command line.

See Also

The following guides may also be helpful:

Want to write a new guide or contribute to an existing one? Check out our contribution guidelines.

All guides are released with an ASLv2 license for the code, and an Attribution, NoDerivatives creative commons license for the writing.