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Erik D'Ercole
Erik D'Ercole

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Laradhoc - Dockerize your Laravel app. Be a happy dev


⚠️ This is my first post ever. Any suggestion will be highly appreciated ♥️


Laradhoc, hosted on GitHub, is my basic Docker-based development environment for running Laravel applications.

Check it out and feel free to try it, do a fork, open an issue or a pull-request. I'll be happy to hear your suggestions, fix my mistakes and learn something new 😄

Before Laravel

I'm a Laravel developer and enthusiast since version 4.
I love it.
Before Laravel, there was CodeIgniter... And even before there was pure PHP ⚠️. If I go back up to the origins (speaking of PHP development), I remember a lot of procedural code, big tons of spaghetti 🍝, manual include, countless unaware vulnerabilities, dirty mixtures of PHP / HTML and Javascript, etc. 🙈
No OOP, no Composer, no PSR-2, no frameworks, no SOLID, design patterns, unit tests. 🤦🏻‍♂️
Dependency injection, service container, zero-downtime deploy, caching, CLI tools, queue workers... What? 🤨
A looooot has been changing during these years and it's still changing, with increasing speed.

Y A W N 🥱 You're talking about code, not development environments

You're right. Let's go back in topic.
Basically, during my PHP developer life, I went through these stages. I try to summarize them.

A quick (?) history of (my) dev environments

1 - Manual / WAMP

Install everything on your host, literally "by hand".
I used to work on a Windows pc and I manually downloaded a zip file with the PHP version I needed. Same for Apache. No CLI. Just a Windows service and a bunch of config file to edit.

Need to update? Repeat the same steps. And hope nothing is gonna break 😵

To be honest, the technology stack wasn't still changing so fast. So it wasn't such a big deal.

Oh, of course there were those "packaged solutions" like WAMP, but honestly I wasn't a big fan. They could make your life a bit easier, but I preferred to understand a bit deeply the "building blocks".

2 - Vagrant / Homestead

When I discovered Vagrant, Homestead and these VM-based solutions, I remember it was like "WOW 😱 Different configurations for different applications? This is magic!".
Another advantage: the ability to share, in the same dev team, the same virtual machine with its settings, doesn't matter if your host is Windows or MacOS based (even if I remember it wasn't exactly always like this...).
But these VMs were pretty huge, heavy and not-so-performant.

3 - Docker!

And then there was Docker!
Which is the current solution my team and I use for local development.

Why Docker?

In my opinion, Docker is one of those life-changing inventions, such as GIT, for example. It's pure genius 🎓.

Don't want to explain here what Docker is, which great benefits it brings and why you should adopt it as soon as you can: there are tons of articles which explain all these concepts, much better than I would do.

Let me write only a few words: along with your application code (e.g. your private GIT repository), you also provide (via one or a handful of configuration files) the exact infrastructure to run it: which services and which versions, how are they configured and how they interact between theirselves. It doesn't matter if you're using Windows, Linux or MacOS. It's almost like download this, press play, wait... And you're ready to code 🤓

The latter aspect is very import for me: I mainly develop on MacOS workstations, but also on Windows 10 (with WSL). So, it's very important for me to have a solutions which works everywhere.

How I approached Docker?

When I heard about it, at first, I was a bit scared 😓.
It was like "it sounds great, but not so easy to learn... And it's another topic to learn, I've no time, Homestead works pretty well, bla bla bla". You know... excuses.

During my spare time, I started to read some article, watch some video and try to become acquainted with Docker terminology: images, containers, docker-compose, volumes, etc.
But still I couldn't find a concrete reason to revise my workflow (laziness)

Then I started to use some Docker-based solutions / products (let me call them Docker supersets, wrappers), which are quite easy to setup and they completely (or almost) hide the underlying complexity (even if it's not so complex) 🚀.

Just a few names:

  • Local by Flywheel Need a quick way to run your WordPress blog / application locally? This is a pretty, easy and straightforward solution
  • Laradock A full and highly configurable solution for running Laravel applications. But I soon found it to be pretty intricate to setup
  • Lando Until now, my favorite Docker-based tool. You can you use it for Laravel, WordPress and many other applications. It requires only to define your stack (services, versions, configurations, etc.) within a .yaml file, which you're going to commit in your repository. Et voilà! You definitely want to try it.

Docker the manual way, then Laradhoc

What's wrong with the aforementioned products? Nothing!
Ok, almost nothing 😅
For example Lando, which I keep on loving, it's not so fast in bootstrapping.
Another downside is this: Lando requires a specific locked version of Docker. I remember that one time, after upgrading Docker (via automatic updates), Lando suddenly broke and I couldn't understand what was going on. After many tests and some searching, a GitHub issue came up so I finally understood I had to downgrade Docker.
Same for Laradock: these products are meant to work out the of box, but soon or later you'll experience a configuration which is working on MacOS but not on Windows (or viceversa), or a particular setup or combination of services / versions which is leading to unexpected behaviours.

But this isn't the main reason. We all know the perfect software doesn't exist (especially the one you've written and you're so proud of 😝) and every product soon or later is going to meet some problem, bug, unexpected behaviour and so no.

So, what's the matter? 🤷🏻‍♂️

After starting to use these products, I became curious 👀 and wanted to learn more about Docker. I wanted to experiment by myself, to understand and put into practice all the concepts I've read about in the previous months.
I read more articles, took a look at several open source repositories, then I tried to sum up everything in a project I could use in my everyday developer life.
After some initial doubt, I said to myself:

Ok, let's try to be "shameless". I want to put my project on GitHub, even if I have little or no experience with open source. What can be wrong? At worst, someone will say "this is wrong!" or "this is how it's done": in both cases, I will learn something.


Laravel ad hoc environment. I just wanted something tailored for my needs.
Of course it's not as complete as, for example, Lando.
But it's fast in bootstrapping (after downloading all the images and after the first build, of course) and enough complete to run my projects.
I didn't want to be too strict, so I included even some service I usually don't need (e.g. phpMyAdmin - I prefer to use a SQL client).

I tried to explain everything in the; anyway, a very quick overview.


It comes with some useful bash scripts to start/stop the containers, run composer, php artisan and all the main Laravel-related stuff.

Give it a try!

As I already said, I would be happy to know what you think about!
Feel free to ask for some new feature or to suggest some better implementation.

Thanks for reading and good coding! 🤓

Top comments (3)

schemeza profile image
Jadon Brown

Good read :)

You've got an interesting writing style.

I'd like to see you write a beginners guide to docker with familiarising newbies such as myself with using it for development on Laravel.

Do you deploy using docker too? I've heard that it's quite cool too, but haven't seen it first-hand.

eleftrik profile image
Erik D'Ercole

Thank you Jadon :) Didn't receive any notification about your comment :-\
I think there are a lot of beginners guide to Docker which are written way better than I could ;-) But if you've got any question and I can help you, please don't hesitate :-)

namsir profile image

Awesome post! It's definitely a killer for beginner like me. Thank you!