I have been building a new Greenfield java application for quite sometime. This was a standard Spring boot application which packs an embeded servlet container. Most of my demos ran the application vai the SpringBoot plugin. This was good for development environment. But my workplace has declared container as the go-forward deployment platform and thus my application shall NOT be released into staging until it is containerized. Since this was a SpringBoot fat jar application so all that was required is to build a Docker image having java -jar application.jar command. Im my evaluation I found following ways of generating Docker images.

For the prupose of this blog let’s assume we have a Spring Boot Greeting-service. The service can be built using maven or gradle. It makes no difference to the generated docker image. The docker image can be built in amy of the follwoing manner :

Old School Scripting

Docker provides the essential commands to build docker images using a Dockerfile. So in my first attempt I added the following Dockerfile

FROM openjdk:8-alpine

ADD ./build/libs/ /opt/gs-service/

ARG service_version
ENV SERVICE_VERSION ${service_version}
CMD java -jar /opt/gs-service/gs-spring-boot-${SERVICE_VERSION}.jar

I picked java8 alpine base image as it has optimal binary size.Picking ubuntu or centos increases the overall image size.

In this file I as coping files from build folder to /opt location. I had to invoke docker build command to generate the image. Now every time I have to type two commands

  • one for code compile (gradlew clean build)
  • second for image build (docker build)

This was an overhead so I added both comannds to a simple build.sh file.

set -o errexit


docker run --rm -v "$BASE_DIR":/home/spring-gs -w /home/spring-gs gradle:4.8.1 gradle clean build
docker build -t "spring-gs:${VERSION}" -t spring-gs:latest --build-arg service_version=${VERSION} "$BASE_DIR"

In the script I am compiling project in a docker container using gradle. The generated artifacts are then copied to a new docker image built using Dockerfile The above project generated docker images under the name spring-gs.


Spotify Dockerfile Maven plugin

Well the above solution was sub-optimal. I did not like the idea of a separate build script. But the Dockerfile was definately the way we wanted to build a container. Thus, I configured the dockerfile-maven-plugin. The plugin has simple execution idea. It treats Dockerfile as the imput standard and build docker images from it. I had the Dockerfile in my project and I added the follwoing plugin configuration :


The plugin also enables to build docker images in tar format which can be shared in offline manner. The plugin allowed me to pass a repository name and a tagname. Apart from the limitation of a single tagename, I could pass all types of parameters to the underlying docker build command. Invoke mvn clean dockerfile:build to generate a docker image.


Fabric8 Docker Maven plugin

I also had a look at the docker-maven-plugin](https://dmp.fabric8.io/#introduction) from Fabric8. This is a complete docker plugin, it allows us to start / stop containers during various maven lifecycle phases. The plugin enables us to build multiple pages from a project. This is a complete docker toolkit for maven. I added the plugin to my maven pom


I added the minimal required configuration. It assumes the dockerfiles are present under src/main/docker path and filters the files to inject project variables form maven. I had no intentions of changing my Dockerfile, so configured the plugin accordingly. In the end I invoked mvn clean docker:build command to generate docker images.


Google Jib Maven plugin

Lastly, I worked with the google jib plugin. Jib is aimed at building cantainer images for your application. The overall result it produces is the same but the image it generates is very diffrent from the above approaches. the plugin DOES NOT build images by using Dockerfile.

The images it generates are distroless container images. This essatilly means that they pack just the Java runtime and NOT the OS. The plugin also enables us to build images for alternate container runtimes like oci.

(Introduction to Disroless docker)[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qhykcC94ukg]


I have added minimal configuration. Since we are generating SpringBoot fat jar so the plugin generates image with java -jar PROJECT.jar command. The plugin provides configurable options to provide MainClass, JvmArgs, additionalPorts etc. It also enables us to upload our images to various container regiestries like dockerhup, aws container rgistry etc. But I am just uploading the images to hy dockerDemon so I involve mvn clean compile jib:dockerBuild



After working with each of the above ways, I was of the opinion to have a Dockerfile. In my oberstaion having Dockerfile enables me to accept the container as my first-class deployment option and not some operational procedure. To me the dmp-maven-plugin also enables me to leverage containers for my other development needs like integration testing etc. On the other hand jib-maven-plugin generated distroless images are the next leap in images. I would like to adapt them. I would try to explore the jib tooling to see if there is way to build the configuration as a seperate file and not embed it in the plugin configuration.

All the plugins enabled me to export the image as tar and import it at other environment. To me this is quite handy in development and evaluation phase.