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Share Compose configurations between files and projects

Compose supports two methods of sharing common configuration:

  1. Extending an entire Compose file by using multiple Compose files
  2. Extending individual services with the extends field

Multiple Compose files

Using multiple Compose files enables you to customize a Compose application for different environments or different workflows.

Understanding multiple Compose files

By default, Compose reads two files, a docker-compose.yml and an optional docker-compose.override.yml file. By convention, the docker-compose.yml contains your base configuration. The override file, as its name implies, can contain configuration overrides for existing services or entirely new services.

If a service is defined in both files Compose merges the configurations using the rules described in Adding and overriding configuration.

To use multiple override files, or an override file with a different name, you can use the -f option to specify the list of files. Compose merges files in the order they’re specified on the command line. See the docker-compose command reference for more information about using -f.

When you use multiple configuration files, you must make sure all paths in the files are relative to the base Compose file (the first Compose file specified with -f). This is required because override files need not be valid Compose files. Override files can contain small fragments of configuration. Tracking which fragment of a service is relative to which path is difficult and confusing, so to keep paths easier to understand, all paths must be defined relative to the base file.

Example use case

In this section are two common use cases for multiple compose files: changing a Compose app for different environments, and running administrative tasks against a Compose app.

Different environments

A common use case for multiple files is changing a development Compose app for a production-like environment (which may be production, staging or CI). To support these differences, you can split your Compose configuration into a few different files:

Start with a base file that defines the canonical configuration for the services.

docker-compose.yml

web:
  image: example/my_web_app:latest
  links:
    - db
    - cache

db:
  image: postgres:latest

cache:
  image: redis:latest

In this example the development configuration exposes some ports to the host, mounts our code as a volume, and builds the web image.

docker-compose.override.yml

web:
  build: .
  volumes:
    - '.:/code'
  ports:
    - 8883:80
  environment:
    DEBUG: 'true'

db:
  command: '-d'
  ports:
    - 5432:5432

cache:
  ports:
    - 6379:6379

When you run docker-compose up it reads the overrides automatically.

Now, it would be nice to use this Compose app in a production environment. So, create another override file (which might be stored in a different git repo or managed by a different team).

docker-compose.prod.yml

web:
  ports:
    - 80:80
  environment:
    PRODUCTION: 'true'

cache:
  environment:
    TTL: '500'

To deploy with this production Compose file you can run

docker-compose -f docker-compose.yml -f docker-compose.prod.yml up -d

This deploys all three services using the configuration in docker-compose.yml and docker-compose.prod.yml (but not the dev configuration in docker-compose.override.yml).

See production for more information about Compose in production.

Administrative tasks

Another common use case is running adhoc or administrative tasks against one or more services in a Compose app. This example demonstrates running a database backup.

Start with a docker-compose.yml.

web:
  image: example/my_web_app:latest
  links:
    - db

db:
  image: postgres:latest

In a docker-compose.admin.yml add a new service to run the database export or backup.

dbadmin:
  build: database_admin/
  links:
    - db

To start a normal environment run docker-compose up -d. To run a database backup, include the docker-compose.admin.yml as well.

docker-compose -f docker-compose.yml -f docker-compose.admin.yml \
    run dbadmin db-backup

Extending services

Docker Compose’s extends keyword enables sharing of common configurations among different files, or even different projects entirely. Extending services is useful if you have several services that reuse a common set of configuration options. Using extends you can define a common set of service options in one place and refer to it from anywhere.

Note: links, volumes_from, and depends_on are never shared between services using extends. These exceptions exist to avoid implicit dependencies—you always define links and volumes_from locally. This ensures dependencies between services are clearly visible when reading the current file. Defining these locally also ensures changes to the referenced file don’t result in breakage.

Understand the extends configuration

When defining any service in docker-compose.yml, you can declare that you are extending another service like this:

web:
  extends:
    file: common-services.yml
    service: webapp

This instructs Compose to re-use the configuration for the webapp service defined in the common-services.yml file. Suppose that common-services.yml looks like this:

webapp:
  build: .
  ports:
    - "8000:8000"
  volumes:
    - "/data"

In this case, you’ll get exactly the same result as if you wrote docker-compose.yml with the same build, ports and volumes configuration values defined directly under web.

You can go further and define (or re-define) configuration locally in docker-compose.yml:

web:
  extends:
    file: common-services.yml
    service: webapp
  environment:
    - DEBUG=1
  cpu_shares: 5

important_web:
  extends: web
  cpu_shares: 10

You can also write other services and link your web service to them:

web:
  extends:
    file: common-services.yml
    service: webapp
  environment:
    - DEBUG=1
  cpu_shares: 5
  links:
    - db
db:
  image: postgres

Example use case

Extending an individual service is useful when you have multiple services that have a common configuration. The example below is a Compose app with two services: a web application and a queue worker. Both services use the same codebase and share many configuration options.

In a common.yml we define the common configuration:

app:
  build: .
  environment:
    CONFIG_FILE_PATH: /code/config
    API_KEY: xxxyyy
  cpu_shares: 5

In a docker-compose.yml we define the concrete services which use the common configuration:

webapp:
  extends:
    file: common.yml
    service: app
  command: /code/run_web_app
  ports:
    - 8080:8080
  links:
    - queue
    - db

queue_worker:
  extends:
    file: common.yml
    service: app
  command: /code/run_worker
  links:
    - queue

Adding and overriding configuration

Compose copies configurations from the original service over to the local one. If a configuration option is defined in both the original service and the local service, the local value replaces or extends the original value.

For single-value options like image, command or mem_limit, the new value replaces the old value.

# original service
command: python app.py

# local service
command: python otherapp.py

# result
command: python otherapp.py

Note: In the case of build and image, when using version 1 of the Compose file format, using one option in the local service causes Compose to discard the other option if it was defined in the original service.

For example, if the original service defines image: webapp and the local service defines build: . then the resulting service will have build: . and no image option.

This is because build and image cannot be used together in a version 1 file.

For the multi-value options ports, expose, external_links, dns, dns_search, and tmpfs, Compose concatenates both sets of values:

# original service
expose:
  - "3000"

# local service
expose:
  - "4000"
  - "5000"

# result
expose:
  - "3000"
  - "4000"
  - "5000"

In the case of environment, labels, volumes and devices, Compose “merges” entries together with locally-defined values taking precedence:

# original service
environment:
  - FOO=original
  - BAR=original

# local service
environment:
  - BAR=local
  - BAZ=local

# result
environment:
  - FOO=original
  - BAR=local
  - BAZ=local

Compose documentation

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Licensed under the Apache License, Version 2.0.
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https://docs.docker.com/compose/extends/