Using Docker for WordPress Development
We do a lot of custom WordPress development and are constantly searching for new ways to evolve and improve our WordPress development. In the past, we developed what we called the Poor Mans Mamp, which worked fine and it help for a while. However, it wasn’t perfect and we found it did introduce a little bit of friction into our workflow.
We kept exploring and the result of this has been the introduction of Docker, which may actually be the solution we’ve been searching for.
In this post we’ll guide you through our process of using Docker for WordPress Development
As software developers and Digital marketers, we will be working on a number of different projects at any one time. Each project will typically have its own unique configuration settings. We might be working on a project for a customer who has actually tailored to a version of WordPress, and the result may be that they have it locked down to a particular version of WordPress.
In another example, the WordPress element of the website may actually be integrated with Magento or another eCommerce engine.
Problems incurred by many different instances WordPress
Your WordPress project may also be restricted to a particular version of PHP, Linux Operating system or even an obscure combination of both with a different web server configuration i.e Nginx or Apache.
To configure and manage several local development environments on your laptop and also enable easy switching between each environment can be difficult and time-consuming.
We have previously written a number of blog posts providing instructions on how we attempted to configure and manage these local WordPress development environments in the past:
Sure these solutions work, but they were always finicky and invariably when you’re constantly moving between environments, and incurred friction continuously having to configure environments.
Docker to the rescue
Docker removes a lot of this hassle and now makes it incredibly easy to get your environments configured usually taken only a few seconds. Saving a lot of time and frustration.
Docker runs on all popular operating systems so be sure to follow the instructions on the docker website on how to install it on your system.
Install Docker compose
If your Docker application includes more than one container – as is the case for WordPress ( web server and database running in separate containers) – building, running, and connecting the containers from separate Dockerfiles is cumbersome and time-consuming. Docker Compose solves this problem by allowing you to use a
YAML file to define multi-container apps.
You can configure as many containers as you want, how they should be built and connected, and where data should be stored. When the YAML file is complete, you can run a single command to build, run, and configure all of the containers.
Docker Compose is a tool for defining and running multi-container Docker applications. With Compose, you use a YAML file to configure your application’s services. Then, with a single command, you create and start all the services from your configuration.
There are detailed instructions to on the docker compose website to ensure you have the latest version installed.
Install WordPress Via Docker Compose
Once you have Docker and docker-compose all setup, moving on to the next phase is really simple.
These instructions are great if you just want to get a version of WordPress up and running on your machine. However, if you want to build a complete development environment you will need to extend the
Install phpMyAdmin with docker-compose
We’ll enhance the standard WordPress
docker-compose.yml by adding a phpmyadmin to help with basic database administration tasks.
We’ll grad the official phpMyAdmin image. link it to our wordpress_db container with the name mysql, expose its
port 80 on
port 8080 of the host system, and finally sets a couple of environment variables with our mySQL username and password.
Map to a local file system
It is possible to store the document root for WordPress on the host filesystem using a Docker data volume to share files between the host and the container.
We will also map the WordPress file system to our local drive, in order to be able to carry both theme and plugin development.
The WordPress Docker container is configured to check if the root HTML is empty or not when it starts and copies files there appropriately. i.e.
Using docker-compose to launch WordPress
To use the Docker-compose file, using the terminal window simply change directory to the folder that contains the
docker-compose.yaml and use the command
docker-compose up -d.
Once it’s complete, you should be able to open a browser to browse
Other useful docker-compose commands:
Develop themes and plugins
It is possible to develop specific components for WordPress, like themes and plugins. All it needs is a proper configuration of Volumes in the
You should have a full WordPress deploy up and running.
You should be able to use the same method to create different version installations of WordPress that you can use for testing purposes, just changing the WordPress version.
running Docker commands to create containers already simplifies application management,
docker-compose takes it a step further and allows you to bundle multiple containers within a single working directory.
A unique background as business owner, marketing, software development and business development ensures that he can offer the optimum business consultancy services across a wide spectrum of business challenges.
Latest posts by Gary Woodfine (see all)
- How to start a new Python Project using Pycharm and Conda on ubuntu - January 11, 2019
- How to add Vuetify to Laravel Project - January 7, 2019
- Getting Started with Python on Ubuntu - December 5, 2018