A Guide to Dockerize your Node.js Application

Sharmila S
May 29 · 4 min read

In this article, we are going to learn to dockerize a node.js application.


  • Node
  • npm
  • Docker

1. Create a node.js app

First, let’s create a simple node.js(express) application, to get started with express, read this article.

Create a file named index.js which is our express app, and add the following.

Now, let's try to run our app in the terminal,

Our app is running now, to check, go to http://localhost:4000

App running at port 4000

2. Set up the Dockerfile

The next step is to create a Dockerfile.

If you haven’t installed docker in your system, visit here to download it.

We will always start from a base image, and build our own image with our app in it.

For the base image, we are going to use the official node image available in dockerhub. (Dockerhub — where users can create their own private/public repositories to contain their images and also can access any open-source image). For more details about the node image, click here.

node image in dockerhub

Before moving on, there are a couple of things to look at.

  • Variant — They are several variants available for node image, we are using the alpine variant due to its small size.
  • Version — You can choose the version of node you are using. I'm using 14.17.0 version. You can check the node version in your system by typing the following in your terminal.

Now, let’s create our Dockerfile. ( Dockerfile — contains all the commands that are to be executed, to build an image).

Create a file named Dockerfile (with no extension). And add the following.

FROM node:14.17.0-alpine —From the base image node, with the version 14.17.0 and alpine variant.

WORKDIR — We are mentioning that the directory called app is going to hold our project. If the directory specified doesn’t exist in the image, it is newly created.

ADD package*.json ./We are adding our package.json and package-lock.json to our workdir.

RUN npm installThis command installs the dependencies mentioned in our package.json

ADD index.js ./— Adds index.js from our app to the image.

CMD [ "node", "index.js"]Executes node index.js , which is the command to run our app

3. Build the image using Dockerfile

Being in your project directory, run the following command.

. — checks for the Dockerfile in the current directory, using which the image is built.

-t docker-express-app — represents the name for the image along with its tag, here, we leave the tag to be default (latest). (-t option is used to specify a name and a tag for the image to be built)

To view all images in your system, type

4. Create an instance of the image (container)

We created the image, now let’s run our image.

--name express-app— we are naming our container with --name option, express-api is the name given.

-d — to run our app in detached mode.

-p 4000:4000-p option is to map a port to our image, here we are mapping the port 4000 of our localhost to the port 4000 of our container.

docker-express-app — the image to run

Now, we can view our running instance, using

We can see our app running, go to localhost to port 4000 to view our app.

App running

To stop/start the instance,

express-api is the name of the instance(container)


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