Using Docker Stack To Run Docker Flow Proxy In Swarm Mode

This article assumes that you already understand how Docker Flow Proxy works. If you don't, please visit the Running Docker Flow Proxy In Swarm Mode With Automatic Reconfiguration page for a tutorial.

We'll explore how to create Docker Flow Proxy service through Docker Compose files and the docker stack deploy command.


The examples that follow assume that you are using Docker v1.13+, Docker Compose v1.10+, and Docker Machine v0.9+.


If you are a Windows user, please run all the examples from Git Bash (installed through Docker Toolbox). Also, make sure that your Git client is configured to check out the code AS-IS. Otherwise, Windows might change carriage returns to the Windows format.

Please note that Docker Flow Proxy is not limited to Docker Machine. We're using it as an easy way to create a cluster.

Swarm Cluster Setup

To setup an example Swarm cluster using Docker Machine, please run the commands that follow.


Feel free to skip this section if you already have a working Swarm cluster.

curl -o swarm-cluster.sh \

chmod +x swarm-cluster.sh


docker-machine ssh node-1

Now we're ready to deploy the docker-flow-proxy service.

Running Docker Flow Proxy As A Docker Stack

We'll start by creating a network.

docker network create --driver overlay proxy

The proxy network will be dedicated to the proxy container and services that will be attached to it.

We'll use docker-compose-stack.yml from the vfarcic/docker-flow-proxy repository to create docker-flow-proxy and docker-flow-swarm-listener services.

The content of the docker-compose-stack.yml file is as follows.

version: "3"


    image: vfarcic/docker-flow-proxy
      - 80:80
      - 443:443
      - proxy
      - LISTENER_ADDRESS=swarm-listener
      - MODE=swarm
      replicas: 2

    image: vfarcic/docker-flow-swarm-listener
      - proxy
      - /var/run/docker.sock:/var/run/docker.sock
      - DF_NOTIFY_CREATE_SERVICE_URL=http://proxy:8080/v1/docker-flow-proxy/reconfigure
      - DF_NOTIFY_REMOVE_SERVICE_URL=http://proxy:8080/v1/docker-flow-proxy/remove
        constraints: [node.role == manager]

    external: true

The format is written in version 3 (mandatory for docker stack deploy).

It contains two services; proxy and swarm-listener. Since you are already familiar with Docker Flow Proxy and Docker Flow Swarm Listener, the arguments used with the services should be self-explanatory.

The proxy network is defined as external. Even though docker stack deploy will create a default network for all the services that form the stack, the proxy network should be external so that we can attach services from other stacks to it.

Let's create the stack.

curl -o docker-compose-stack.yml \

docker stack deploy -c docker-compose-stack.yml proxy

The first command downloaded the Compose file docker-compose-stack.yml from the vfarcic/docker-flow-proxy repository. The second command created the services that form the stack.

The tasks of the stack can be seen through the stack ps command.

docker stack ps proxy

The output is as follows (IDs are removed for brevity).

NAME                   IMAGE                                     NODE   DESIRED STATE CURRENT STATE         ERROR  PORTS
proxy_proxy.1          vfarcic/docker-flow-proxy:latest          node-2 Running       Running 2 minutes ago
proxy_swarm-listener.1 vfarcic/docker-flow-swarm-listener:latest node-1 Running       Running 2 minutes ago
proxy_proxy.2          vfarcic/docker-flow-proxy:latest          node-3 Running       Running 2 minutes ago

We are running two replicas of the proxy (for high-availability in the case of a failure) and one of the swarm-listener.

Deploying Services Alongside Docker Flow Proxy

Let's deploy a demo stack. It consists of two containers; mongo is the database, and vfarcic/go-demo is the service that uses it.

We'll use Docker stack defined in the Compose file docker-compose-stack.yml located in the vfarcic/go-demo repository. It is as follows.

version: '3'


    image: vfarcic/go-demo
      - DB=db
      - proxy
      - default
      replicas: 3
        - com.df.notify=true
        - com.df.distribute=true
        - com.df.servicePath=/demo
        - com.df.port=8080

    image: mongo
      - default

    external: false
    external: true

The stack defines two services (main and db). They will communicate with each other through the default network that will be created automatically by the stack. Since the main service is an API, it should be accessible through the proxy, so we're attaching proxy network as well. The main service defines four service labels. They are the same labels you used in the Running Docker Flow Proxy In Swarm Mode With Automatic Reconfiguration tutorial.


Don't confuse service with container labels. The syntax is the same with the difference that service labels are inside the deploy section. Docker Flow Swarm Listener supports only service labels.

curl -o docker-compose-go-demo.yml \

docker stack deploy -c docker-compose-go-demo.yml go-demo

docker stack ps go-demo

We downloaded the stack definition, executed stack deploy command that created the services and run the stack ps command that lists the tasks that belong to the go-demo stack. The output is as follows (IDs are removed for brevity).

NAME           IMAGE                  NODE    DESIRED STATE CURRENT STATE          ERROR PORTS
go-demo_main.1 vfarcic/go-demo:latest node-2 Running        Running 7 seconds ago
go-demo_db.1   mongo:latest           node-2 Running        Running 21 seconds ago
go-demo_main.2 vfarcic/go-demo:latest node-2 Running        Running 19 seconds ago
go-demo_main.3 vfarcic/go-demo:latest node-2 Running        Running 20 seconds ago

Since Mongo database is much bigger than the main service, it takes more time to pull it, resulting in a few failures. The go-demo service is designed to fail if it cannot connect to its database. Once the db service is running, the main service should stop failing, and we'll see three replicas with the current state Running.

After a few moments, the swarm-listener service will detect the main service from the go-demo stack and send the proxy a request to reconfigure itself. We can see the result by sending an HTTP request to the proxy.

curl -i "$(docker-machine ip node-1)/demo/hello"

The output is as follows.

HTTP/1.1 200 OK
Date: Thu, 19 Jan 2017 23:57:05 GMT
Content-Length: 14
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=utf-8

hello, world!

The proxy was reconfigured and forwards all requests with the base path /demo to the main service from the go-demo stack.

For more advanced usage of the proxy, please see the examples from Running Docker Flow Proxy In Swarm Mode With Automatic Reconfiguration tutorial or consult the configuration and usage documentation.


Please remove Docker Machine VMs we created. You might need those resources for some other tasks.


docker-machine rm -f node-1 node-2 node-3