How to Dockerize Java RESTful API Application

The goal of this post is to show how to get a Java RESTful API application (based on Jersey framework) into a Docker container. This guide assumes you have Docker, Java and Maven installed.

Create Jersey application

We’ll use Maven archetype to create demo project using Jersey RESTful framework. This project uses Grizzly HTTP server, so this is lightweight alternative to running full container.

mvn archetype:generate \
  -DarchetypeArtifactId=jersey-quickstart-grizzly2 \
  -DarchetypeGroupId=org.glassfish.jersey.archetypes -DinteractiveMode=false \
  -DgroupId=com.dekses -DartifactId=jersey-docker-demo \
  -Dpackage=com.dekses.jersey.docker.demo -DarchetypeVersion=2.22.2

After that we need to install dependencies and try to run this demo app.

$ cd jersey-docker-demo

$ mvn install

$ mvn exec:java
Jul 14, 2016 5:07:03 PM org.glassfish.grizzly.http.server.NetworkListener start
INFO: Started listener bound to [localhost:8080]
Jul 14, 2016 5:07:03 PM org.glassfish.grizzly.http.server.HttpServer start
INFO: [HttpServer] Started.
Jersey app started with WADL available at
Hit enter to stop it...

Let’s test how it works by sending GET request with curl. If everything works fine server should respond with “Got it!” text message.

$ curl http://localhost:8080/myapp/myresource
Got it!

Create Dockerfile

File called Dockerfile works as an instruction for building and running your Docker image. For our demo project it will:

  • define base image (with maven and jdk on-board)
  • create application directory
  • install dependencies using Maven
  • expose local container port 8080
  • run application

Full Dockerfile content (also available on github).

# fetch basic image
FROM maven:3.3.9-jdk-8

# application placed into /opt/app
RUN mkdir -p /opt/app
WORKDIR /opt/app

# selectively add the POM file and
# install dependencies
COPY pom.xml /opt/app/
RUN mvn install

# rest of the project
COPY src /opt/app/src
RUN mvn package

# local application port

# execute it
CMD ["mvn", "exec:java"]

Update server address

Another step is necessary before we can start building and running Docker containers. By default Jersey application listens for incoming request on the “localhost”. This is defined by BASE_URI in jersey-docker-demo/src/main/java/com/dekses/jersey/docker/demo/ file on line 16.

// Base URI the Grizzly HTTP server will listen on
public static final String BASE_URI = "http://localhost:8080/myapp/";

This is not going to work well in Docker container because network interface created inside container and available for external requests is different. That’s why we need to instruct Jersey to listen on all available addresses, to do that replace “localhost” with “”.

// Base URI the Grizzly HTTP server will listen on
public static final String BASE_URI = "";

Build docker image

This done with docker build command. Run it in your project directory. Additional -t flag allows to tag your image so it’s easier to find and run later.

docker build --tag=myapp .

Run the image

Running your image with -t -i options allows executed process to run attached to your terminal. This is development mode options, they allow you to see output from your image immediately.

Option -p publishes or maps host system port 18080 to container port 8080, otherwise you can not access your API service from the host system.

Image name is myapp assigned during build phase.

docker run -p 18080:8080 -t -i myapp

Okay we can now test docker container with the same curl command but directed to port 18080 instead of 8080 for local Java app.

$ curl http://localhost:18080/myapp/myresource
Got it!

Hope this tutorial helped you get up and running a simple Java API as a Docker container. Full source code is uploaded to Github jersey-docker-demo project.