Docker WordPress Dev Environment

This post documents setting up local development environments with Docker using the official WordPress Docker repository as a base image. Page two includes configurations for remote PHP debugging with Xdebug and VS Code.

Docker Compose

Aside from making the container configuration easier to understand, Docker Compose coordinates the creation, start and stop of the containers used together in the environment.

The environment has multiple sites served on various ports including at least one WordPress site, a phpmyadmin site and mysql. For virtual host names, nginx-proxy is being used for containers with virtual host environment properties set in their docker compose data. Additionally, the mysql db container is accessible from the host at

Create this docker compose yaml file in the projects root directory with the nginx-proxy configuration.

version: "2"
    image: jwilder/nginx-proxy
    container_name: nginx-proxy
      - "80:80"
      - /var/run/docker.sock:/tmp/docker.sock:ro

Create this docker compose yaml file for the WordPress stack. This includes the linked MariaDB database and phpMyAdmin containers from their official repositories. Xdebug is not included in the official WordPress image on Docker Hub and will not be included in this configuration since it is using unmodified images. Adding xdebug and rebuilding the image is covered on page two.

version: "2"
    image: mariadb
      - mysql:/var/lib/mysql
      - "8001:3306"
      - MYSQL_ROOT_PASSWORD=secret
    image: phpmyadmin/phpmyadmin:latest
      - "8002:80"
      - db:mysql
      - MYSQL_ROOT_PASSWORD=secret
      - VIRTUAL_PORT=8002
    image: wordpress
      - ./wordpress:/var/www/html
      - "8003:80"
      - db:mysql
      - VIRTUAL_PORT=8003

Update your systems hosts file.

# Docker (nginx-proxy)

Navigate to your project root in your CLI, such as Terminal on OS X, PowersShell or Cygwin on Windows.

Create the Containers

Create new nginx-proxy and WordPress containers using the up command with docker-compose.

docker-compose -f nginx-proxy.yml -f wp.yml up
  • The -f flags specify the compose files to use. Multiple compose files are combined into a single configuration. This multiple file solution is for demonstration purposes. Here is a single file example that can be run without a file flag.

Stop Containers

Stop the containers without removing them.

docker-compose -f wp.yml -f nginx-proxy.yml stop

Start Containers

Start the stopped containers. Include the nginx-proxy.yml first so when the WordPress containers are started the virtual hosts can be dynamically configured.

docker-compose -f nginx-proxy.yml -f wp.yml -f start
  • If you have restarted your computer and another process is using the nginx-proxy port, e.g., 80, you will need to halt that process before starting the container.

Shutdown Containers

Shutdown the environment using the down command. If your data is not stored in a volume, it will not persist since this will remove the containers.

docker-compose -f wp.yml -f nginx-proxy.yml down

The next page covers adding Xdebug and configuring VS Code for remote debugging.


This page is a collection of various Docker commands and resources. For more info, read the Docker Documentation. To learn what Docker is, the official Docker Overview is an excellent resource.


# list
docker ps -a
# stop all
docker stop $(docker ps -a -q)

# remove all
docker rm $(docker ps -a -q)

# connect to any container
docker-compose exec [SERVICE] sh

# use user www-data (82) for Nginx and PHP containers
docker-compose exec --user=82 php sh


# list
docker images -a

# remove image
docker rmi [IMAGE ID]

# remove dangling images
docker rmi $(docker images -q -f dangling=true)

# remove all images
docker rmi $(docker images -a -q)


# list
docker volume ls

# remove volume
docker volume rm [VOLUME NAME]

# remove all volumes
docker volume rm $(docker volume ls -q)

# remove dangling volumes (1.13+)
docker volume prune

Drupal Dev Environment

WordPress Dev Environment

This example documents a local development environment for WordPress using Docker and Docker Compose. Aside from making the container configuration easier to understand, Docker Compose coordinates the creation, start and stop of the containers used together in this environment.

Docker WordPress Dev Environment – Xdebug with VS Code