Using Docker Multi-Stage Builds to Simplify Project Development

Using Docker Multi-Stage Builds to Simplify Project Development

Keeping your images small with multi-stage images. ... It was actually very common to have one Dockerfile to use for development (which contained everything needed to build your ... Multi-stage builds vastly simplify this situation! ... Antivirus software · AppArmor security profiles · Seccomp security profiles · Isolate ...

Keeping the docker image size down is one of the most challenging things in Docker because if the image size increases, it becomes difficult to maintain the image and, ultimately, the container that executes the image. When each instruction executes in Dockerfile, a new layer adds to the image. Hence to optimize Dockerfiles so that we can keep image size smaller, we go for multi-stage builds in docker, making Dockerfiles easy to read and maintain. Docker has introduced multi-stage builds in its latest release. In this article, we will discuss multi-stage builds in Docker in detail, covering the following topics.

  • What are the issues with a single-stage build scenario in Docker?
  • What are multi-stage builds in Docker?
  • How to name build stages?
  • How do we stop a specific build stage?
  • Using an external image as a “stage.”
  • How to use a previous stage as a new stage in multi-stage Docker builds?
  • What are the benefits of multi-stage builds in Docker?
  • When not to use Multi-Stage builds?

Issues with a single-stage build scenario in Docker

Earlier, applications commonly used the “builder pattern” with Dockerfile. We would have only one Dockerfile for development, and it contained everything we needed to build an application. Then we slimmed down this Dockerfile to use for production such that it contained only the application and things required to run it. This design basis is on a builder pattern.’

Using builder pattern, the Dockerfile looks like this:

If you notice the above Dockerfile, we have compressed two RUN command using ‘&&_‘ (_Bash operator). It helps us prevent creating an additional layer in the image. Therefore, keeping the image size smaller. But this design is failure-prone and challenging to maintain, especially when the number of RUN commands increases. We may also forget to include the “\” operator, in which case each image will take up space on the local machine.

The remedy to this situation is by using multi-stage builds, which we are going to discuss next.


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