Pattern for Developing Complex Solution with NodeJS within Docker

So many of the examples out there, for both Node and Docker, show simple little applications. They might demonstrate how to create a container. Another might show how to crank up your first NodeJS app. However, I have yet to find one that demonstrates how to use these bag o’ widgets in a real world application.

Hopefully, my mean-docker example, on Github, will help show how to bring it all together. Something within me wants to create a small how-to video series surrounding it, however, there are several good folks out there already tackling the meat of this (check out Derick Bailey’s WatchMeCode for back-end goodness). So, who knows? In the meantime, here’s what this project will give you:

(BTW: Here’s the direct link on GitHub, in case you missed it: mean-docker)

Project Breakdown

Three back-end microservices (for some reason the Node world is referring to them as “APIs”… which annoys the heck out of me) stubbed-out in NodeJS and Express.

The front-end Angular app which calls into the example APIs.

Your example company’s web site. Again, this is just stubbed out.

solution-a & solution-b
Two higher-level solutions containing all of the “good stuff” for Docker & NGINX.

Getting Started

There’s not much to it. Here’s what to do:

  1. Install Git & Docker on your development machine.

  2. Clone the Git repo to your machine: git clone

  3. Navigate into either solution-a or solution-b (currently identical): cd ~/Source/Github/FredLackey/mean-docker/solution-a

  4. Spin up Docker and let’er do it’s magic: docker-compose up

  5. NGINX is listening to a few URLs specifically, so you may want to edit your /etc/hosts or %SYSTEM32%\drivers\etc\hosts file and add the following entries (a copy is in the provided %SOLUTION%/.docker/etc/hosts file):

Working With It

Automated “watchers” are already setup to handle all of the compiling, optimizing, starting, and restarting for you. Simply do your work in the typical %PROJECT%/src/server and/or %PROJECT%/src/client folders and everything else will be taken care of for you.

On a completely clean dev machine, it should take approximately three minutes for an initial build:

Example Running Blocks

If you updated your /etc/hosts or %SYSTEM32%\drivers\etc\hosts file with the names of the servers, you may check the status of each project using any web browser:

Example Project Site

… or …

Example API Test


The goal of this project is to get you started and help demonstrate some of the concepts… getting NGINX to talk to proxy your requests, linking docker containers, automagically detecting changes, etc. That being said, it works for this purpose but it’s not an actual working solution. If you have a need for such a thing, let me know and maybe I can spend some additional time on it.

Enjoy! =)