Running a Symfony development environment in a docker container

Symfony is a very popular PHP framework used to create websites and web applications. In this article we will set up a basic development environment using Docker containers. The advantage of using a Docker container for this environment is that you can target specific PHP versions, middleware and databases without having to manage conflicting versions on your computer.

Step 1: Create a Docker image to bootstrap new Symfony projects.

The purpose of this image is to provide a minimal environment for creating new Symfony projects using the symfony new command.

First create a new directory:

> mkdir ~/work/src/symfony_setup

Create a new file in the symfony_setup directory called Dockerfile. Enter the following contents in the Dockerfile:

FROM php:5-fpm-alpine

RUN curl -LsS -o /usr/local/bin/symfony

RUN chmod a+x /usr/local/bin/symfony

WORKDIR /root/work/src

From the symfony_setup directory, enter the following command:

> docker build -t symfony_setup .

This command will build an image called symfony_setup that you can use anytime you want to create a new Symfony project. To do so use the command:

> docker run --rm -v ~/work/src:/root/work/src symfony_setup symfony new proj_new

Be sure to replace proj_new with the desired name for your project. You should also make sure that you have created a directory at ~/work/src before executing this command.

Step 2: Create a docker image to run a Symfony project

You will need to add two settings to the php.ini configuration file. To do this, create a new directory:

> mdkir ~/work/src/symfony_run

Create a new file in the symfony_run directory called Dockerfile. Enter the following contents in the Dockerfile:

FROM php:5-fpm-alpine

RUN curl -LsS -o /usr/local/bin/symfony

RUN chmod a+x /usr/local/bin/symfony

COPY php.ini /usr/local/etc/php/php.ini

WORKDIR /root/work/src/proj_new


CMD php bin/console server:run

You should use the same project name instead of proj_new as you did in Step 1 for the WORKDIR line of this Dockerfile.

You will also notice that we are copying a php.ini into our container. This is so that we can provide the following arguments to the PHP environment:

date.timezone = "Europe/Amsterdam"

Copy your php.ini.default to the same directory as the Dockerfile and ensure that the above directives are set.

Note: You should use the appropriate timezone code for your locale. Refer to this link for more details.

Now you can build this image using the command:

> docker build -t my-symfony .

Once the image is built, you can run it with the command:

> docker run -d -p 8000:8000 -v ~/work/src:/root/work/src my-symfony

This command will start up a container, mapping to the local directory on your machine where the project source was created in step 1.

Open a web browser to http://localhost:8000 to view your newly created and initialized Symfony application!