Docker Compose with Flask Apps

Docker Compose simplifies multi-container Docker environments on a single host. Let’s put together a basic web app with Docker Compose and Flask using Redis (we end up with a Python/Flask container and a Redis container all on one host). We do not need custom networking or to design our own networks to run on; Compose does everything for us!

Set Up Your Host

Install Docker Engine and Docker Compose (unless you have them already); review Introduction to Docker Compose if you need help.

  1. You’ll need a directory for your project on your host machine:

    $ mkdir compose_flask
    $ cd compose_flask
  2. Add the following to requirements.txt in your directory:

  3. Copy and paste the following code into a new file called in your project directory:

    # compose_flask/
    from flask import Flask
    from redis import Redis
    app = Flask(__name__)
    redis = Redis(host='redis', port=6379)
    def hello():
        return 'This Compose/Flask demo has been viewed %s time(s).' % redis.get('hits')
    if __name__ == "__main__":"", debug=True)

Your Docker Image

  1. Create your Dockerfile in the compose_flask directory and add the following:

    FROM python:2.7
    ADD . /code
    WORKDIR /code
    RUN pip install -r requirements.txt
    CMD python
  2. Build it: docker build -t compose-flask .

Define Your Services

Add the following code to a new file, docker-compose.yml, in your project directory:

version: '2'
        build: .
            - "5000:5000"
            - .:/code
            - redis
        image: redis

How to Read the Docker Compose File

  • We define two services, web and redis.
  • The web service builds from the Dockerfile in the current directory…
  • Forwards the container’s exposed port (5000) to port 5000 on the host…
  • Mounts the project directory on the host to /code inside the container (allowing you to modify the code without having to rebuild the image)…
  • And links the web service to the Redis service.
  • The redis service uses the latest Redis image from Docker Hub.

Note this composition documents your application’s requirements!

Build and Run with Docker Compose

Start the application from your directory:

$ docker-compose up

If you have localhost access to your host (i.e., you do not use a remote solution to deploy Docker), point your browser to,, or http://localhost:5000. On a Mac, you need to use docker-machine ip MACHINE_VM to get your Docker host’s IP address (then use that address like http://MACHINE_IP:5000 to access your web page). If you do use a remote host, simply use that IP address and append :5000 to the end.

You should see:

This Compose/Flask demo has been viewed 1 time(s).

When you refresh, you should see:

This Compose/Flask demo has been viewed 2 time(s).

Each time you refresh, the number should increment.

Stop the application with CTRL+C (read below under “Common Issues” for more information) and refresh the page. You should receive something to the effect of This site can't be reached.

Restart the application with docker-compose up -d. Redis resets the count and you should see:

This Compose/Flask demo has been viewed 1 time(s).

Use docker-compose ps and you should get similar results:

        Name                      Command               State           Ports
composeflask_redis_1 redis ...   Up      6379/tcp
composeflask_web_1     /bin/sh -c python         Up>5000/tcp

Run docker-compose stop to stop the containers:

$ docker-compose stop
Stopping composeflask_web_1 ... done
Stopping composeflask_redis_1 ... done

Common Issues

Starting and Stopping

If you run docker-compose up -d, you need to run docker-compose stop to stop the services when you finish. If you did not, you can stop the service with CTRL+C (hit once to gracefully stop and twice to force kill the containers). If you do not run in the background, you can view the calls made to your container.