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Fast development workflow with Docker and Kubernetes

Keeping development environments in sync is a constant pain. Containerizing your development environment enables your service to run in the exact same environment everywhere: from your laptop to production (for more details on the benefits of a container native development workflow, see this post by Matt Butcher.)

Telepresence, in conjunction with a containerized development environment, gives the developer a fast development workflow in developing a multi-container application on Kubernetes. Telepresence lets you run a Docker container locally, while proxying it to your Kubernetes cluster.

In this HOWTO, we'll walk through how to use Telepresence with a containerized Docker environment to build a fast development workflow.

Install Telepresence with Homebrew/apt/dnf

Quick example

We'll start with a quick example. Start by running a service in the cluster:

$ kubectl run qotm --image=datawire/qotm:1.3 --port=5000 --expose
$ kubectl get service qotm
qotm    <none>        8000/TCP   1m

It may take a minute or two for the pod running the server to be up and running, depending on how fast your cluster is.

You can now run a Docker container using Telepresence that can access that service, even though the process is local but the service is running in the Kubernetes cluster:

$ telepresence --docker-run -i -t alpine /bin/sh
alpine# apk add --no-cache curl
alpine# curl http://qotm:5000/
  "hostname": "qotm-1536849512-ckf1v",
  "ok": true,
  "quote": "Nihilism gambles with lives, happiness, and even destiny itself!",
  "time": "2017-10-25T15:28:51.712799",
  "version": "1.3"

(This will not work if the QOTM pod hasn't started yet... If so, try again.)

Setting up a development environment in Docker

So how would we use Telepresence to do actual development of the QOTM service? We'll set up a local Dockerized development environment for QOTM. Clone the QOTM repo:

$ git clone https://github.com/datawire/qotm.git

In the repository is a Dockerfile that builds a runtime environment for the QOTM service.

Build the runtime environment:

$ cd qotm
$ docker build -t qotm-dev .

We'll use Telepresence to swap the QOTM deployment with the local Docker image. Behind the scenes, Telepresence invokes docker run, so it supports any arguments you can pass to docker run. In this case, we're going to also mount our local directory to /service in your Docker container. Make sure your current working directory is the qotm diretory, since we're going to mount that directly into the container.

$ telepresence --swap-deployment qotm --docker-run \
  --rm -it -v $(pwd):/service qotm-dev:latest

We can test this out. In another terminal, we'll start a pod remotely on the Kubernetes cluster.

$ kubectl run -i --tty alpine --image=alpine -- sh
/ # apk add --no-cache curl
/ # curl http://qotm:5000
  "hostname": "8b4faa7e175c",
  "ok": true,
  "quote": "The last sentence you read is often sensible nonsense.",
  "time": "2017-10-25T19:28:41.038335",
  "version": "1.3"

Let's change the version in qotm.py. Run the following:

sed -i -e 's@1.3@'"1.4"'@' qotm/qotm.py

Rerun the curl command from your remote pod:

/ # curl http://qotm:5000
  "hostname": "8b4faa7e175c",
  "ok": true,
  "quote": "The last sentence you read is often sensible nonsense.",
  "time": "2017-10-25T19:28:41.038335",
  "version": "1.4"

And notice how the code has changed, live. Congratulations! You've now:

  • Routed the QOTM service to the Docker container running locally
  • Configured your Docker service to pick up changes from your local filesystem
  • Made a live code edit and see it immediately reflected in production

How it works

Telepresence will start a new proxy container, and then call docker run with whatever arguments you pass to --docker-run to start a container that will have its networking proxied. All networking is proxied:

  • Outgoing to Kubernetes.
  • Outgoing to cloud resources added with --also-proxy
  • Incoming connections to ports specified with --expose.

Volumes and environment variables from the remote Deployment are also available in the container.

Install Telepresence with Homebrew/apt/dnf

Still have questions? Ask in our Gitter chatroom or file an issue on GitHub.

If this tutorial was useful to you, we'd appreciate it if you'd share it online.

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