Scripted deployment for Docker containers.
CoffeeScript JavaScript
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Shipper is scripted deployment for Docker containers.


Shipper abstracts your stack to servers and applications. A server is something that runs a Docker daemon. It could be an EC2 instance, a vagrant box, or even another Docker container. An application is just a Docker container.

Once you follow this abstraction, deploying and scaling your stack becomes incredibly simple. Instead of baking and deploying machine images like AMIs, you can just deploy an application to any running server.


$ npm install -g shipper



Shipper currently uses Docker container images. You can generate an image by running:

$ docker export container > image.tar


Shipfiles are standalone scripts for deploying your servers and applications. They are little more than scripts written in CoffeeScript and executed with a global ship(name, [description], action) function to define available actions.


    ami:             'ami-53aef83a'
    accessKey:       process.env.AWS_ACCESS_KEY
    secretAccessKey: process.env.AWS_SECRET_ACCESS_KEY
    region:          'us-east-1'
    type:            't1.micro'
    securityGroups:  [ 'shipper' ]
      user: 'ubuntu'
      name: 'shipper'
      key:  '~/shipper.pem'

ship 'release', ->
  boot 'ec2', SIMPLE_SERVER, (err, server) ->
    server.start 'docker_image.tar', ['echo', 'hello world'], (err) ->
      console.log "upload: #{err}"

    server.start 'docker_image.tar', ['echo', 'hello world'], (err) ->
      console.log "upload: #{err}"

Then execute ship release from a terminal to deploy.


You can also use shipper as a node library. Just require('shipper') and use the same API as Shipfiles.

CoffeeScript Example

shipper = require 'shipper'
monitor = require './monitor'

monitor.on 'heavy traffic', ->
  shipper.boot 'ec2', WEB_SERVER, (err, server) ->
    server.start 'web server.tar', ['node', './server.js'], (err) ->
      console.log 'automatically scaled'


boot(provider, server, [overrides], callback)

  • provider String The provider (e.g. ec2) to use.
  • server Object
    • ec2 Object Amazon EC2 Configuration. (See below)
  • overrides Object Any additional overrides. (See below)
  • callback Function called when the server starts or an error occurs.
    • error Error
    • server Server object

Provisions a new server on the specified provider. The provider, server, and overrides arguments are split up so that you can define a semantic server and then provision it across different providers without changing your code.

Amazon EC2

  • ami String (See below)
  • accessKey String
  • secretAccessKey String
  • region String (e.g. us-east-1)
  • type String (e.g. t1.micro)
  • securityGroups Array Security groups to apply. (See below)
  • ssh Object SSH Configuration
    • user String SSH user
    • name String AWS key-pair name.
    • key String Path to private key file.
    • port Integer (default: 22)

Launches an Amazon EC2 instance of the given AMI, connects to it via SSH and creates a tunnel to the Docker daemon. Note that securityGroups must contain a group that allows inbound access to ssh.port.

The AMI must be running Linux 3.8 or above, and have an SSH, a Docker daemon, and socat installed and configured. We created ami-53aef83a on us-east-1 that you can use for now.

Class: Server

Server is not intended to be used directly. Use the boot() method to create a new Server instance.

server.start(image, command, [options], callback)

  • image String Path to a Docker container image.
  • command Array The command to execute on the container.
  • callback Function called when the application has started.
    • error Error

The specified image will be uploaded to the server, and a new container will be created and started.

Planned Features

  • Stop for Applications and Containers
  • RESTful API (+ an HTML dashboard)
  • More providers (e.g. Vagrant, Docker)
  • Faster container distribution (e.g. better compression, torrents)


Copyright (c) 2013 Gerald Monaco. See the file for license rights and limitations (MIT).