Docker + Flask | A Simple Tutorial

This is a simple tutorial for getting started with Docker + Flask. There a lot of different methods I have found out there, but after going through my own struggles with it, I wanted to share the most concise version I could come up with. I hope this helps and as always the finished product/code can be found at the bottom of the page, no license, always free (claps are welcome) on my personal Github page.

You will learn how to create, run, build, push, pull, kill, prune and work in docker with flask as an api.

Setup Steps

Create a folder to hold the project. We will operate out of here for the most part. Use the mkdir command to create a folder.

$ mkdir hello_docker_flask

Navigate to that directory with cd .

$ cd hello_docker_flask

Make sure you have docker installed, the version is not particularly important as these basic commands are just about the same in all versions.

$ docker -v
Docker version 17.12.0-ce, build c97c6d6

Don’t have it installed? Here is the link to the docker official site, however you can use whatever method you like to install it.

Now that docker is ready lets see if you have any running containers.

$ docker ps
<I do not have have any running right now>

If you are just getting started, there shouldn’t be any here. Either way it won’t hurt to have another one running at the same time.

Have some currently running and want to kill them?

$ docker kill <CONTAINER ID>

You can also check to see if you have any containers even if they are not running.

$ docker images
REPOSITORY               TAG     IMAGE ID      CREATED       SIZE
mtngt/angular_docker latest ec5a8c5f01f1 2 hours ago 17MB

Again these won’t hurt, but a good way to check to see what you already have (commands like this will come in handy later).

Want to clear out all the not running stuff as well?

$ docker system prune -a

That will delete everything you have in your local docker instance. So be careful.

Okay now that we know the basics, lets get started.

Creating the Files

First we need a simple flask file. I am going to make one that utilizes both flask and flask_restful.

At this point I am going to assume you know python basics and have python installed.

$ python --version
Python 2.7.6

Create a new file in your hello_docker_flask folder called with some basic flask code in it.

# - a minimal flask api using flask_restful
flask import Flask
from flask_restful import Resource, Api

app = Flask(__name__)
api = Api(app)

class HelloWorld(Resource):
def get(self):
return {'hello': 'world'}

api.add_resource(HelloWorld, '/')

if __name__ == '__main__':, host='')

You will notice the python file imports a few things. Although you might have them right now locally, the next person on the next machine won’t. So we need to create a requirements.txt file to import them when our docker runs.



Now we need a Dockerfile in the same directory. It is just called Dockerfile , no extension, no suffix.


# Dockerfile - this is a comment. Delete me if you want.
FROM python:2.7
COPY . /app
RUN pip install -r requirements.txt
ENTRYPOINT ["python"]
CMD [""]

This Dockerfile copies our current folder, . , into our container folder /app . It sets that folder as the working directory, installs all our requirements with pip install from requirements.txt, and then runs the file using python

Thats it, these are the 3 files you need to get started. My hello_docker_flask folder looks like this.





Docker Build

You should still be in your hello_docker_flask directory.

Now we can build our docker image.

$ docker build -t my_docker_flask:latest .

You will get a bunch of fancy output with loading bars, but what are looking for it it to end with the following confirmation.

Successfully built ddc23d92067e
Successfully tagged my_docker_flask:latest

What does this do? We are building an image with the tag ( --tag , -t ) my_docker_flask:latest that includes everything in the current directory, . .

Want to know more about tags? This bloke is pretty passionate about it.

Now we can see what we created.

$ docker images
my_docker_flask latest ddc23d92067e 45 seconds ago 687MB

But, is it running?

$ docker ps

Nope! That is the next step.

Docker Run

You can run the build you just created with the docker run command.

$ docker run -d -p 5000:5000 my_docker_flask:latest

However this has a few pieces I think are important. First thing is -d which detatches from the run. This means you won’t see any output. You can remove the -d if you would like to see the run process.

Next is -p which specifies the port it is going to run on. In out file we used, host=’') so we needed to specify which port when using flask run , which above you can see I used 5000.

Okay, now we can see it is running!

$ docker ps
9701 my_docker_flask python 3 min ago Up 4 min

I have shortened this output a bit because super long line snippets looks like awfulness on medium. (Feature Request)

View Your Flask Restful Api

Now your api is running.

You can use a few methods to check it out.


$ open -a "Google Chrome"

Or in your favorite browser go to

Or use curl to do a get request.

$ curl
"hello": "world"

Or use Postman. A super great tool for working with endpoints you are constantly referencing and testing. You can save old requests and set up multiple environments.

Push Your Image To Docker Hub

Now you can push your image to docker hub so you can pull it down later and use it, thats why docker is awesome.

Create an account over at docker hub.

Then from your terminal window,

$ docker login -u mtngt
Login Succeeded

But please use your username unless you can guess my password.

Now we re-tag the image with your username prefix, <username>/.

$ docker tag my_docker_flask mtngt/my_docker_flask

We could have named it this from the start, with the <username>/ prefix. but I felt it was more clear to explain that is isn’t necessary to do that until now.

And then you can push it to your docker hub.

$ docker push mtngt/my_docker_flask

This might take a minute but now my_docker_flask is available from your public docker hub. You can set this up private after the fact if you would like.

Pull Your Image From Docker Hub

Now lets pull down your image from docker hub. But first I want to prove that this works and we don’t need all the stuff we have had previously.

So first, kill all the current running dockers.

$ docker ps
9701eed5868d my_docker_flask:latest

Do it (Sheev Palpatine Voice).

$ docker kill 9701eed5868d

We have only stopped it. Remove it from our local docker instance completely.

$ docker system prune -a
$docker images

All gone.

Docker pull the image you pushed.

$ docker pull mtngt/my_docker_flask

This might take some time and have a bit of output. But again, we are looking for Status: Downloaded newer image for mtngt/my_docker_flask:latest.

You have your image back!

$ docker images
REPOSITORY                TAG    IMAGE ID      CREATED         SIZE
mtngt/my_docker_flask latest ddc23d92067e 33 minutes ago 687MB

Now run like before, but remember, we have a new name. It is now prefixed with <your_username>/.

$ docker run -d -p 5000:5000 mtngt/my_docker_flask:latest

And it is live again!

$ docker ps
9e2c7644ee48 mtngt/my_docker_flask:latest

Curls for the gurls.

$ curl
"hello": "world"

Final Things To Remember

Now we have successfully created, ran, pushed, and pulled with docker.

However sometimes you want to edit. You can do this at anytime by making changes to the files and rebuilding the same way with docker build .

But remember, when running your new changes you will need to kill the current instance with docker kill , or specify a new port with docker run -p <not the same port that is already running> . This will avoid an error of the port already being in use.


Here is the code I promised.

More to come with Docker + Angular and integrating those with the flask api with docker-compose, a way to link multiple dockers.