Run a Laravel Container App
Back4App Containers is a powerful platform for hosting Laravel applications. With its ability to automatically deploy Dockerized Laravel apps, you can launch your project in a scalable and flexible environment with ease.
In this guide, we will walk you through the process of preparing and deploying your Laravel application on Back4App Containers, covering everything from simple projects to more complex setups. We will begin with the necessary preparations, then move on to dockerizing the application, testing it locally, pushing the project to GitHub, setting up the project on Back4App Containers, monitoring deployment, and troubleshooting common issues.
If you have any questions or comments, feel free to join the conversation in the #Containers channel on the Back4app Community on Slack. Anytime you can also contact us at [email protected].
- Verify that your Laravel application follows a proper directory structure, with all necessary files and folders, such as app, routes, resources, and public, organized appropriately.
- Check if all required dependencies are listed in the composer.json file, including their correct versions.
- Ensure that you have installed all dependencies using composer install to generate a composer.lock file.
- If your application relies on environment variables, ensure that you have a .env file with the necessary variables defined.
- When deploying to Back4App Containers, you will need to configure these environment variables in the deployment settings.
- If your Laravel application includes a custom server (e.g., Apache or Nginx), make sure it is correctly set up and configured to serve your Laravel application.
- Test your server locally to ensure it works as expected.
- Optimize your Laravel application by implementing performance best practices.
- Use tools like Lighthouse to audit your application and address any performance or accessibility issues.
- Test your application across multiple browsers and devices to ensure proper rendering and functionality.
Once you have thoroughly reviewed and prepared your Laravel application, you can proceed to the next step, which is creating a Dockerfile for your project.
Dockerizing a Laravel application involves creating a Dockerfile in the root directory of your project. The Dockerfile contains instructions to build a Docker image of your application, which can then be deployed to Back4App Containers. Here's a detailed explanation of how to create a Dockerfile for a regular Laravel application:
1-Create a new file named Dockerfile (without any file extension) in the root directory of your Laravel application.
2-Define the base image: Start the Dockerfile by specifying a base image using the FROM command. For a typical Laravel application, the base image should be a PHP image, e.g., php:8.1-apache.
3-Set the working directory: Use the WORKDIR command to set the working directory for your application within the Docker container. This is where your application files will be stored and executed.
4-Copy the project files: Copy all the files from the Laravel application directory to the Docker container using the COPY command.
5-Install dependencies: Use the RUN command to install the required dependencies for your Laravel application using composer install.
6-Set up the Apache server: Enable Apache's rewrite module, configure the 000-default.conf file to include the proper Apache settings for Laravel, and set up Apache environment variables.
7-Generate the Laravel app key: Laravel requires an app key to encrypt user sessions and other sensitive data. Use the RUN command to generate the app key.
8-Build the Laravel application: Add a RUN command to build your Laravel application using your build script, typically composer dump-autoload, php artisan config:cache, php artisan route:cache and php artisan view:cache.
9-Expose the server port: Use the EXPOSE command to specify the port on which your server will run inside the Docker container. For example, you can use port 80.
10-Start the server: Use the CMD command to specify the command that starts the server to serve your built Laravel application.
The complete Dockerfile for a regular Laravel application should look like this:
Before deploying your Laravel application on Back4App Containers, it's important to test it locally using Docker. This helps ensure that your application runs as expected and helps you identify and fix any issues before deployment.
In your terminal, navigate to your project's root directory and run the following command, replacing your-app-name with the name of your application:
Next, run the following command to start the Docker container locally. This command maps the container's exposed port (e.g., 80) to a port on your local machine (e.g., 8000):
Open a web browser and navigate to http://localhost:8080 to view your Laravel application. Make sure everything works as expected. If you encounter any issues, address them before moving on to the next step.
Create a .gitignore file in your project's root directory to exclude unnecessary or sensitive files from your repository (e.g., vendor, .env, node_modules, etc.). Initialize a Git repository, commit your project files, and push them to a remote repository (e.g., on GitHub).
After creating your Back4App account you can follow the steps listed on the Docs:
In summary, containers will follow the instructions detailed on your Dockerfile and start to create your App.
Keep an eye on the deployment logs and status on the Back4App Containers dashboard. Address any errors or issues that arise during deployment. In case of more complex projects, ensure that all necessary services (such as databases or external APIs) are correctly configured and accessible.
Common deployments errors when running a Laravel App on Back4App Containers are listed here. Other possible common errors when deploying a Laravel Application are:
Laravel applications should be configured to run on a specified port when deployed on Back4App Containers. If the application is still not accessible, check the Dockerfile to make sure the correct port is exposed (e.g., EXPOSE 80 for port 80).
Ensure that all required dependencies are listed in the composer.json file and that their versions are compatible with each other and your application code. Missing or incompatible dependencies can lead to runtime errors.
Check if your application relies on specific environment variables or configuration files, and ensure they are correctly set up in the Back4App Containers environment. Set any necessary environment variables in your Dockerfile using the ENV command.
Problem: This error occurs when Apache cannot determine the fully qualified domain name (FQDN) of the server.
Solution: To suppress this error, you can set the ServerName directive globally in the Apache configuration. Modify the Apache configuration file (apache-config.conf) as follows:
Problem: This error indicates that there is an issue with the server configuration or the application itself.
- Check the Apache error logs (/var/log/apache2/error.log) for more specific error messages. This can help identify the root cause of the error.
- Verify that the Apache configuration file (apache-config.conf) is correctly set up with the appropriate DocumentRoot and Directory directives for your Laravel application.
- Ensure that the necessary PHP extensions are installed and enabled in the Dockerfile. Use the docker-php-ext-install command to install required extensions, and the RUN a2enmod command to enable Apache modules.
- Check the file permissions and ownership of your Laravel application files. Use the chown command to ensure that the files are owned by the appropriate user (www-data in most cases).
- Problem: Incorrect or misconfigured Apache settings can lead to errors or unexpected behavior.
- Double-check the Apache configuration file (apache-config.conf) to ensure that it correctly points to the Laravel application's DocumentRoot directory and has the appropriate Directory directives.
- Enable the rewrite module by running RUN a2enmod rewrite in the Dockerfile. This is necessary for Laravel's routing to work properly.
- Problem: If your Laravel application has missing or incorrect dependencies, it can result in errors or unexpected behavior.
- Check the composer.json file to ensure that all required dependencies are listed, including their correct versions.
- Run composer install to install the dependencies and generate a composer.lock file.
- Verify that the necessary PHP extensions are installed and enabled in the Dockerfile using the docker-php-ext-install command.
- Problem: Incorrect file permissions can cause issues with Laravel's file storage or cache.
- Use the chown command in the Dockerfile to change the ownership of the Laravel application files to the appropriate user (www-data in most cases).
- Ensure that the storage and cache directories have the correct permissions. You can run chmod commands in the Dockerfile to set the appropriate permissions.
Unhandled exceptions or crashes in your Laravel application code can cause deployment failures or unexpected behavior. Examine your application logs for any error messages, and address any issues in your code. Check the container logs by running docker logs your-app-name to see if there are any errors or exceptions being thrown. Use a tool like Sentry to track and monitor errors in your application.
If your Laravel application includes a custom server configuration (e.g., Apache or Nginx), make sure it is correctly configured in the Dockerfile and that the necessary modules or configurations are installed.
Incorrect file permissions can cause runtime errors when deploying a Laravel application on Back4App Containers. Make sure that the necessary directories and files have the correct permissions, as specified in the Laravel documentation.
If your application is running out of memory when deployed on Back4App Containers, consider increasing the memory limit in the Dockerfile using the PHP.ini settings.
If your Laravel application relies on external services or APIs, ensure that they are correctly configured and accessible from within the Back4App Containers environment. Use the Docker network commands to troubleshoot any networking issues.
For more complex projects that require additional resources or horizontal/vertical scaling, consider upgrading your Back4app Containers plan to handle increased traffic and load.