As a developer, when working on a service, you face a problem with the working environment. And when I say working environment, I do not think about IDEs, stacks, OS, libraries, etc. I’m thinking about the environment where our services live.
These days, our services are usually packed inside some container and put in some kind of distributed system. Most containers and other moving parts are controlled by Kubernetes, Nomad, and similar orchestration systems.
No matter how different they are, they all control containerized services. They do more than just control containers; at least, we care that they own containers.
So, I’m developing a feature for some services. As soon I checkout the code, I realize that the service has external dependencies: other services, some storage(database), messaging system(Kafka).
In the ideal world, I would not care much. I would add an API endpoint and some DTOs and make some calls to external services. To be sure everything works, I add some unit tests.
Later, when I finish the code, I would push it to the working environment to test service integration with other components. And everything is fine.
In the real world, it isn’t like that. Some bugs, wrong assumptions, and freshly discovered constraints exist when you use newly made features.
The pain here is waiting for the code to be compiled and deployed. I make a series of small changes, one by one. After each change, I push the code to the working environment. Then you enter a cycle of commit, push, build, and test, which is very slow if done through CI.
Idea: Replicate the Required Dependencies
Simple. Replicate required dependencies.
But as your dependencies have dependencies, you have to replicate those dependencies, and then those can have dependencies, etc. Does that mean copying the whole system? No, that wouldn’t be smart. We need to figure out the minimal set of required dependencies. The idea is to replicate only a minimal set of dependencies.
The good part is that the replica doesn’t need to be precise as in the working environment. It can work with less memory and less CPU. For example, suppose the working environment has Postgres database version 14.1.1. In that case, you’ll use the same Postgres version but much lighter(with less memory and CPU). The data stored in the replica would be a fragment of the original.
How to do it?
Thanks to the containers, you can quickly run any program without messing with installation. If you do not believe me, try to install to Postgres database on your local machine and then do the same with Docker(run containerized Postgres). Then compare the experience, especially if you need to run several instances of the same service but different versions.
So, containers. Imho, docker compose is perfect for this job.
Let me describe the scenario:
- my target service, named app
- dependency named next
- dependency for the app Postgres DB
- dependency for the next MariaDB
- dependency for both Kafka
Let me quickly describe configurations.
Services app and next
These two services share a code base. Before the container starts, an image has to be built. Image is built with a two-step docker build:
FROM golang:latest as builder WORKDIR /app COPY . /app/ RUN go mod tidy RUN go build -o app FROM golang:buster WORKDIR /app COPY --from=builder /app/app /app/ ENTRYPOINT [ "/app/app" ]
But configurations are different. The service app uses configuration from the file, while the service next gets configuration from environment variables. At the same time, the service app writes and reads from Kafka, so it needs to wait for the broker service.
On another side, the next service has only one dependency: mariaDB.
app: container_name: echo build: . environment: KAFKA_BROKER: "broker:29092" ports: - 9999:9999 volumes: - ./configs:/app/configs depends_on: - liquibase_pg - broker restart: always
It tells Docker that the image needs to be built first. The build context is the current directory.
Next, instruct Docker to mount one volume from local FS to container FS:
volumes: - ./configs:/app/configs
And wait for dependencies:
depends_on: - liquibase_pg - broker
Where liquibase_pg is one shot service that starts after pg service starts to make DB schema with Liquibase. Only when the schema is created the app service can start.
The service next:
next: container_name: beta build: . ports: - 8888:8888 depends_on: - liquibase_maria environment: DB_HOST: maria DB_PORT: 3306 DB_USER: docker DB_PASSWORD: password DB_NAME: docker DB_TYPE: MARIA APP_PORT: 8888 TARGET: "http://echo:9999" ERROR_RATE: 10 DELAY: 3000 restart: always
The next service waits for Liquibase to create the schema in MariaDB.
The Other Services
Other services represent dependencies: Postgres DB, MariaDB, Kafka broker, and Liquibase. The fun part is that setting all those dependencies is pretty easy. If you search for them on official docs or on DockerHub, you’ll find instructions on setting them up.
What is essential is to set up the proper order of starting services. For example, a Kafka broker should start before any service that uses it. The same goes for DBs.
One thing to notice: service names and container names. They can be different. But it is better if they are the same. It will make your life easier. In my example, they are different. The reason is to make this difference clear.
You’ll use service names when using docker compose command because you’ll interact with services. On the other hand, containers see only containers. That means you’ll use the container name to address another container. For example, in my example, the app service container is echo. It periodically calls another container. To address that container, I have to use the container name:
The reason is that Docker makes its network, and those containers are addressed by name. Look at service next environment variables:
environment: DB_HOST: maria DB_PORT: 3306 DB_USER: docker DB_PASSWORD: password DB_NAME: docker DB_TYPE: MARIA APP_PORT: 8888 TARGET: "http://echo:9999" ERROR_RATE: 10 DELAY: 3000
When everything is set up, you can start the whole system with one command:
docker compose up -d
Rebuilding App, Logs, and Stopping
You set all this up. Start work on your feature, and at one moment, you want to see what you did. Now you have to rebuild your app:
docker compose -f <compose file> up --detach --build <service name>
Using the default docker-compose file name, you can omit the part with a file name: compose.yml.
To get logs:
docker compose logs -f <container name>
To stop the whole system:
docker compose down
To stop and delete all volumes:
docker compose down -v
I hope you like this idea. It could be better, but it is a good start. I am sure you can improve it. If you have any questions, feel free to ask.