Docker Compose Nginx Reverse Proxy

Docker Compose Nginx Reverse Proxy

Introduction to Docker Compose and Nginx

Docker Compose is a powerful tool used for automating the deployment of application services using multiple Docker containers. It enables you to deploy multiple containers and services with a single command and simplifies the coordination of the services’ lifecycle. It also provides an easy way to scale up and down your applications as needed. Nginx (engine X) is an open source web server developed by Igor Sysoev and released under the same 2-clause BSD-like license as Docker itself.

Nginx is a preferred choice for a web reverse proxy due to its high performance and scalability. It can easily be configured to act as a web server, reverse proxy, load balancer, or a mail proxy server. In this tutorial, we are going to use Docker Compose and Nginx to quickly set up a reverse proxy for an application, such as a web service, without running it in a separate container.

Prerequisites for Configuring Nginx Reverse Proxy with Docker Compose

Before you begin, you should have the following prepared:

  • A Docker environment installed
  • A web application or service that you would like to proxy requests to.

You should also ensure that your web application service is properly configured and accessible from the same network as the Docker host. Once you have these prerequisites in place, you can proceed to configuring the Nginx reverse proxy using Docker Compose.

Create a Docker Compose File

The first step is to create a Docker Compose file that will define the Nginx service and specify the containers that should be linked together. You can do this by creating a YAML file called docker-compose.yml in the same directory as your web application’s source code. Here is an example of a Compose file used to configure an Nginx reverse proxy:

version: '3'
image: nginx
- "8080:80"
- ./data/:/usr/share/nginx/html
- app
image: my_web_app

This example Compose file will create two services: web and app. The web service will use a Docker image from the Nginx repository and will expose port 8080 on the host machine. It will also mount a volume from the local machine to the /usr/share/nginx/html directory in the container, to serve any static content. Finally, the web service will link to the app service, which is the web application you want to reverse proxy.

Configure the Nginx Reverse Proxy

Once the Docker Compose file is created, you can edit the Nginx configuration to configure the reverse proxy for the application. To do this, add a nginx.conf file in the same directory as the docker-compose.yml file, and add the following configuration to it:

server {
listen 80;
server_name localhost;

location / {
proxy_pass http://app:80;

This configuration tells Nginx to listen on port 80 of the web service and proxy all incoming requests to the app service. The name of the service and port number can be changed according to your needs.

Build and Run the Services with Compose

Once your Compose file and Nginx configuration are ready, you can build and run the services with the following command:

docker-compose up -d

This will build and run the web and app services in the background. Once the services are running, you can test them by making a request to the localhost address of the Docker host on port 8080. If everything is configured correctly, the request should be proxied to the app service.


In this tutorial, we have learned how to use Docker Compose and Nginx to quickly set up a reverse proxy for an application or service. We have also seen how Nginx can easily be configured for reverse proxying. With Docker Compose, you can quickly and easily deploy complex applications that are composed of multiple microservices.

Thank you for reading this article

Please read other articles about web services and web applications to get more knowledge and stay up to date.


What is Docker Compose?

Docker Compose is a tool for defining and running multi-container Docker applications. It allows you to define the services your application needs, and then deploy them in a single command.

What is Nginx?

Nginx is an open source web server developed by Igor Sysoev and released under the 2-clause BSD-like license. It is a high performance web server and is an excellent choice for reverse proxying.

How can I set up a reverse proxy for my web application with Docker Compose?

You can set up a reverse proxy for your web application with Docker Compose by creating a Docker Compose file defining the web and app services, and then configuring Nginx as a reverse proxy in the Nginx configuration file. Once these steps are completed, you can deploy the services with the command “docker-compose up -d”.

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