A JUnit rule to manage docker containers using docker-compose
Latest commit b6d206c Feb 15, 2017 @hpryce hpryce committed on GitHub Merge pull request #159 from palantir/readme.test.compile
Recommend using testCompile in our docs


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Docker Compose JUnit Rule

This is a small library for executing JUnit tests that interact with Docker Compose managed containers. It supports the following:

  • Starting containers defined in a docker-compose.yml before tests and tearing them down afterwards
  • Waiting for services to become available before running tests
  • Recording log files from containers to aid debugging test failures

Why should I use this?

The code here started out as the end to end tests for one of our products. We needed to test this product in a variety of different configurations and environments which were mutually incompatible, thus multiple Docker Compose files were needed and so a simplistic model of running docker-compose up in Gradle was insufficient.

If you're experiencing any of the following using Docker for your testing this library should hopefully help:

  • Orchestrating multiple services and mapping the ports to outside the Docker machine so assertions can be made in tests
  • Needing to know when services are up to prevent flickering tests caused by slow to start services or complicated service dependencies
  • Lack of insight into what has happened in Docker containers during tests on CI servers due to loss of logs
  • Tests failing due to needing open ports on the CI build host which conflict with the test configuration

Simple Use

Add a dependency to your project. For example, in gradle:

repositories {
    maven {
        url 'https://dl.bintray.com/palantir/releases' // docker-compose-rule is published on bintray
dependencies {
    testCompile 'com.palantir.docker.compose:docker-compose-rule-junit4:<latest-tag-from-bintray>'

For the most basic use simply add a DockerComposeRule object as a @ClassRule or @Rule in a JUnit test class.

public class MyIntegrationTest {

    public static DockerComposeRule docker = DockerComposeRule.builder()

    public void testThatUsesSomeDockerServices() throws InterruptedException, IOException {


This will cause the containers defined in src/test/resources/docker-compose.yml to be started by Docker Compose before the test executes and then the containers will be killed and removed (along with associated volumes) once the test has finished executing.

The docker-compose.yml file is referenced using the path given, relative to the working directory of the test. It will not be copied elsewhere and so references to shared directories and other resources for your containers can be made using path relative to this file as normal. If you wish to manually run the Docker containers for debugging the tests simply run docker-compose up in the same directory as the docker-compose.yml.

Running on a Mac

The above example will work out of the box on Linux machines with Docker installed. On Mac you will first need to install Docker using the instructions here.

Once Docker is installed to run from the command line you will need to execute docker-machine env <machine_name> and follow the instructions to set the environment variables. Any tests can now be executed through Gradle in the usual way.

To run the tests from your IDE you will need to add the environment variables given from running docker-machine env <machine_name> to the run configuration for the test in your IDE. This is documented for Eclipse and IntelliJ.

Waiting for a service to be available

To wait for services to be available before executing tests use the following methods on the DockerComposeRule object:

public class MyEndToEndTest {

    public static DockerComposeRule docker = DockerComposeRule.builder()
        .waitingForService("db", HealthChecks.toHaveAllPortsOpen())
        .waitingForService("web", HealthChecks.toRespondOverHttp(8080, (port) -> port.inFormat("https://$HOST:$EXTERNAL_PORT")))
        .waitingForService("other", (container) -> customServiceCheck(container), Duration.standardMinutes(2))
        .waitingForServices(ImmutableList.of("node1", "node2"), toBeHealthyAsACluster())
        .waitingForHostNetworkedPort(5432, toBeOpen())

    public void testThatDependsServicesHavingStarted() throws InterruptedException, IOException {

The entrypoint method waitingForService(String container, HealthCheck<Container> check[, Duration timeout]) will make sure the healthcheck passes for that container before the tests start. The entrypoint method waitingForServices(List<String> containers, HealthCheck<List<Container>> check[, Duration timeout]) will make sure the healthcheck passes for the cluster of containers before the tests start. The entrypoint method waitingForHostNetworkedPort(int portNumber, HealthCheck<DockerPort> check[, Duration timeout]) will make sure the healthcheck passes for a particular host networked port.

We provide 2 default healthChecks in the HealthChecks class:

  1. toHaveAllPortsOpen - this waits till all ports can be connected to that are exposed on the container
  2. toRespondOverHttp - which waits till the specified URL responds to a HTTP request.

Accessing services in containers from outside a container

In tests it is likely services inside containers will need to be accessed in order to assert that they are behaving correctly. In addition, when tests run on Mac the Docker contains will be inside a Virtual Box machine and so must be accessed on an external IP address rather than the loopback interface.

It is recommended to only specify internal ports in the docker-compose.yml as described in the https://docs.docker.com/compose/compose-file/#ports. This makes tests independent of the environment on the host machine and of each other. Docker will then randomly allocate an external port. For example:

  image: postgres:9.5
    - 5432

Given a DockerComposeRule instance called docker, you could then access a service called postgres as follows

DockerPort postgres = docker.containers()

You could then interpolate the host IP address and random external port as follows:

String url = postgres.inFormat("jdbc:postgresql://$HOST:$EXTERNAL_PORT/mydb");
// e.g. "jdbc:postgresql://"

Run docker-compose exec

We support docker-compose exec command which runs a new command in a running container.

dockerCompose.exec(dockerComposeExecOption, containerName, dockerComposeExecArgument)

Just be aware that you need at least docker-compose 1.7 to run docker-compose exec

Collecting logs

To record the logs from your containers specify a location:

public class DockerComposeRuleTest {

    public static DockerComposeRule docker = DockerComposeRule.builder()

    public void testRecordsLogs() throws InterruptedException, IOException {


This will automatically record logs for all containers in real time to the specified directory. Collection will stop when the containers terminate.

The LogDirectory class contains utility methods to generate these paths. For example, you can write logs directly into the $CIRCLE_ARTIFACTS directory on CI (but fall back to build/dockerLogs locally) using:


Methods in LogDirectory are intended to be statically imported for readability.

Skipping shutdown

To skip shutdown of containers after tests are finished executing:

public class DockerComposeRuleTest {
    public static DockerComposeRule docker = DockerComposeRule.builder()

This can shorten iteration time when services take a long time to start. Remember to never leave it on in CI!

Pull images on startup

To pull images before starting the containers:

public class DockerCompositionTest {
    public static DockerComposition composition = DockerComposition.of("src/test/resources/docker-compose.yml")

This will make sure you are using the most up-to-date version of all the images included in the docker-compose.yml.

Docker Machine

Docker is able to connect to daemons that either live on the machine where the client is running, or somewhere remote. Using the docker client, you are able to control which daemon to connect to using the DOCKER_HOST environment variable.

Local Machine

The default out-of-the-box behaviour will configure docker-compose to connect to a Docker daemon that is running locally. That is, if you're on Linux, it will use the Docker daemon that exposes its socket. In the case of Mac OS X - which doesn't support Docker natively - we have to connect to a technically "remote" (but local) Docker daemon which is running in a virtual machine via docker-machine.

If you're on Mac OS X, the docker cli expects the following environment variables:

  • If the Docker daemon is secured by TLS, DOCKER_TLS_VERIFY and DOCKER_CERT_PATH need to be set.

Similarly, if you're using a LocalMachine, you need to ensure the Run Configuration (in your IDE, command line etc.) has those same variables set.

An example of creating a DockerMachine that connects to a local docker daemon:


Remote Machine

You may not always want to connect to a Docker daemon that is running on your local computer or a virtual machine running on your local computer.

An example of this would be running containers in a clustered manner with Docker Swarm. Since Docker Swarm implements the Docker API, setting the right environment variables would allow us to use Docker containers on the swarm.

An example of connecting to a remote Docker daemon that has also been secured by TLS:


Additional Environment Variables

It may also be useful to pass environment variables to the process that will call docker-compose.

You can do so in the following manner:

             .withEnvironmentVariable("SOME_VARIABLE", "SOME_VALUE")

The variable SOME_VARIABLE will be available in the process that calls docker-compose, and can be used for Variable Interpolation inside the compose file.

How to use a DockerMachine

When creating a DockerComposeRule, a custom DockerMachine may be specified. If no DockerMachine is specified, DockerComposeRule will connect to the local Docker daemon, similarly to how the docker cli works.

private final DockerMachine dockerMachine = DockerMachine.localMachine()
                                                         .withAdditionalEnvironmentVariable("SOME_VARIABLE", "SOME_VALUE")

DockerComposeRule docker = DockerComposeRule.builder()

Composing docker compose files

docker-compose (at least as of version 1.5.0) allows us to specify multiple docker-compose files. On the command line, you can do this with this example command:

docker-compose -f file1.yml -f file2.yml -f file3.yml

Semantics of how this works is explained here: Docker compose reference

To use this functionality inside docker-compose-rule, supply a DockerComposeFiles object to your DockerComposeRule builder:

DockerComposeRule docker = DockerComposeRule.builder()
            .files(DockerComposeFiles.from("file1.yml", "file2.yml"))

Using a custom version of docker-compose

docker-compose-rule tries to use the docker-compose binary located at /usr/local/bin/docker-compose. This can be overriden by setting DOCKER_COMPOSE_LOCATION to be the path to a valid file.