In many applications, you’ll need more than one container – for two main reasons:
- It’s considered a good practice to focus each container on one main task (e.g., run a web server, run a database, …)
- It’s very hard to configure a Container that does more than one “main thing” (e.g., run a web server AND a database)
Multi-Container apps are quite common, especially if you’re working on “real applications”. Often, some of these Containers need to communicate though:
- either with each other
- or with the host machine
- or with the world wide web
Communicating with the World Wide Web (WWW)
This very basic code snippet tries to send a
GET request to
This will work out of the box, no extra configuration is required! The application, running in a Container, will have no problems sending this request.
Communicating with the Host Machine
Communicating with the Host Machine (e.g., because you have a database running on the Host Machine) is also quite simple, though it doesn’t work without any changes.
One important note: If you deploy a Container onto a server (i.e. another machine), it’s very unlikely that you’ll need to communicate with that machine. Communicating to the Host Machine typically is a requirement during development – for example because you’re running some development database on your machine.
Again, consider this JS example:
This code snippet tries to send a GET request to some web server running on the local host machine (i.e. outside of the Container but not the WWW). On your local machine, this would work – inside of a Container, it will fail. Because localhost inside of the Container refers to the Container environment, not to your local host machine which is running the Container / Docker!
But Docker has got you covered!
You just need to change this snippet like this:
host.docker.internal is a special address / identifier which is translated to the IP address of the machine hosting the Container by Docker.
Important: “Translated” does not mean that Docker goes ahead and changes the source code. Instead, it simply detects the outgoing request and is able to resolve the IP address for that request.
Communicating with Other Containers
Communicating with other Containers is also quite straightforward. You have two main options:
- Manually find out the IP of the other Container (it may change though)
- Use Docker Networks and put the communicating Containers into the same Network
Option 1 is not great since you need to search for the IP on your own and it might change over time.
Option 2 is perfect though. With Docker, you can create Networks via docker network create SOME_NAME and you can then attach multiple Containers to one and the same Network.
docker run --network my-network --name cont1 my-image docker run --network my-network --name cont2 my-other-image
First you need to create a network to use
docker network create <network_name>
Both cont1 and cont2 will be in the same Network.
Now, you can simply use the Container names to let them communicate with each other – again, Docker will resolve the IP for you (see above).