Local development with Java

Author: Cesar Tron-Lozai (@CesarTronLozai)

Install Telepresence with Homebrew/apt/dnf


Telepresence can help you speed up your development process for any technology, as long as you deploy your service as a Docker image into a Kubernetes container.

In this tutorial we will focus on how to setup a local development environment for a (micro)-service Foo written in Java.

This is is very useful if your application is formed of many such services which cannot run on a single development machine. In which case it's easy to setup a separate Kubernetes cluster dedicated for development.

Telepresence will help us locally develop our service Foo as if it was still inside the Kubernetes cluster. It's a win-win!!


The idea is quite simple, Telepresence will start a Docker container on your local machine, remove the running pod for Foo and replace it with a two-way proxy to your local docker container.

If other services in your cluster want to talk to Foo, they'll get redirected to your local process. If your local process wants to talk to any other services running in your cluster, Telepresence will redirect the calls to your cluster. It will also maintain all the environment variables defined in your deployment. It's magical.

In order to run our Java application in a local Docker container, we can simply start a container which has Java and Maven/Gradle installed, mount the source directory to our code, and do a Maven/Gradle build.

In this tutorial we will be using Maven and a Spring Boot project but this would work exactly the same with Gradle or any other Java Framework.

Building inside a docker container

As mentioned above, the goal is to compile and run our code inside a Docker container which Telepresence can use to replace the pod running in your cluster.

Let's build the command step by step.

  • telepresence Runs Telepresence!
  • --swap-deployment foo Assumes we already have a foo deployment running in our clusters. For different options check the documentation!
  • --docker-run Tells Telepresence to run a Docker containers
  • --rm Tells Docker to discard our image when it terminates (no need to clutter your computer)
  • -v$(pwd):/build Mounts the current directory (result of the pwd command) into a /build folder inside the Docker container. This is where your source code will be; in this case used by Maven.
  • -v $HOME/.m2/repository:/m2 Mounts the Maven cache folder so we don't have to download Maven artifacts every time we run the container
  • -p 8080:8080 That's optional. If your container is running a server on, for example, port 8080, you can map that port if you need to make requests to your service directly
  • maven:3.5.3-jdk-8-slim That's the image which we will use to build and run our service. Here this is a prebuilt image containing Maven and Java 8. Use any other image to match your need
  • mvn -Dmaven.repo.local=/m2 -f /build spring-boot:run Command to be run in the Docker container. Here it uses the Spring Boot Maven plugin but you can use whatever command required by your build tool. It tells maven to point to the mounted repository cache and where the source code located

And that's it! You can easily create a telepresence.sh file in the root of your project with the following:


telepresence --swap-deployment foo --docker-run --rm -v$(pwd):/build -v $HOME/.m2/repository:/m2 -p 8080:8080 maven-build:jdk8 mvn -Dmaven.repo.local=/m2 -f /build spring-boot:run

Kubernetes Client

If you are using a Kubernetes client like this one, you need to make sure the client can access service account information. This can be done with the --mount command introduced in Telepresence 0.85.

We need to add the following to the command:

  • --mount /tmp/known Tells Telepresence to mount TELEPRESENCE_ROOT to a known folder
  • -v=/tmp/known/var/run/secrets:/var/run/secrets This is another Docker mounting command to mount the known folder to /var/run/secrets in the local container. The Fabric8 Kubernetes client can find the secrets there as it would inside Kubernetes

So our telepresense.sh file would look like that


telepresence --mount /tmp/known --swap-deployment foo --docker-run --rm -v$(pwd):/build -v $HOME/.m2/repository:/m2 -v=/tmp/known/var/run/secrets:/var/run/secrets -p 8080:8080 maven-build:jdk8 mvn -Dmaven.repo.local=/m2 -f /build spring-boot:run

For more details about the mount command check the documentation

Debugging your code

If you need to debug your code with your favourite IDE that's super easy too. You only need to pass a JVM argument and forward the remote port:

  • -e MAVEN_OPTS=-agentlib:jdwp=transport=dt_socket,server=y,suspend=n,address=*:5005 Creates a Docker environment variable that Maven will use to set a JVM argument and awaits for a remote connection on port 5005. This is for Java 8+, check the Java documentation if you are running a lower version.
  • -p 5005:5005 Tells docker to forward that ports from your local machine.

Then you can use your IDE to start a debug remote session on your local port 5005


telepresence --swap-deployment foo --docker-run --rm -e MAVEN_OPTS=-agentlib:jdwp=transport=dt_socket,server=y,suspend=n,address=*:5005 -v$(pwd):/build -v $HOME/.m2/repository:/m2 -p 8080:8080 -p 5005:5005 maven-build:jdk8 mvn -Dmaven.repo.local=/m2 -f /build spring-boot:run

Hot code replace

If you have a JRebel Licence you can also integrate it with Telepresence.

Normally you would need to use JRebel remote when your application is running inside a Docker container. However your docker container shares the source folder so you can use that directly.

First you need to create a rebel.xml file that will tell JRebel where the source code is, that is in the /build folder

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="ISO-8859-1"?>
<application xmlns:xsi="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance" xmlns="http://www.zeroturnaround.com"
             xsi:schemaLocation="http://www.zeroturnaround.com http://update.zeroturnaround.com/jrebel/rebel-2_1.xsd">
        <dir name="/build/target/classes">

You should copy rebel.xml in your src/main/resources folder

If you haven't downloaded JRebel yet, do so here and unzip it somewhere.

You can create a JREBEL environment variable that point to this folder. That means $JREBEL/jrebel.jar should be a valid file.

To activate JRebel, you need the following:

  • -v $JREBEL:/jrebel Mounts the JRebel folder
  • -v $JREBEL/jrebel.jar:/jrebel.jar Makes jrebel.jar available to JREBEL
  • -v $HOME/.jrebel:/root/.jrebel Mounts your JRebel home folder, this gives access to the licence and JRebel stats. This assumes the home folder of the process in your docker image is /root, change if required
  • -Drun.jvmArguments="-agentpath:/jrebel/lib/libjrebel64.so" Tells the JVM to use the Linux64 JRebel agent


telepresence --swap-deployment foo --docker-run --rm -v $JREBEL:/jrebel -v $JREBEL/jrebel.jar:/jrebel.jar -v $HOME/.jrebel:/root/.jrebel -v$(pwd):/build -v $HOME/.m2/repository:/m2 -p 8080:8080 maven-build:jdk8 mvn -Drun.jvmArguments="-agentpath:/jrebel/lib/libjrebel64.so" -Dmaven.repo.local=/m2 -f /build spring-boot:run


If you want to see a simple Spring boot project using telepresence have a look at https://github.com/cesartl/telepresence-k8s

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