Deploying files into running containers

Current version: 10.2

This topic explains how you configure a our Sitecore solution so you can deploy files from Visual Studio directly into locally running containers. You use this during development to ensure efficient feedback loops, as opposed to rebuilding your custom Sitecore images each time.

The following diagram is an overview of the deployment process:

A diagram that shows the deployment process.

Clone the Docker Examples repository

If you have not already done so, clone the Docker Examples repository to a location on your machine, for example, C:\sitecore\docker-examples\. In this topic, we use the custom-images folder as an example.

Example preparation

The custom-images example requires some preparation before it can be run. If you have not already done so, either follow the preparation steps or run the included compose-init.ps1 script to perform these preparation steps automatically:

  • Open a PowerShell administrator prompt and navigate to the custom-images folder (for example, C:\sitecore\docker-examples\custom-images). Run the following command, specifying the location of your Sitecore license file in the -LicenseXmlPath parameter:

    .\compose-init.ps1 -LicenseXmlPath C:\License\license.xml

What are development ENTRYPOINT scripts?

The ENTRYPOINT provides the command to execute when the container is first run. All Sitecore runtime images have a default ENTRYPOINT configured as part of their Dockerfile instructions, so the images are ready to be run. You find the default ENTRYPOINT of any image with the docker inspect command.

Why a different script for development?

A typical Sitecore development workflow includes making code changes in multiple iterations, and building a solution to the web root of a running Sitecore instance. Because of the current limitations of Docker for Windows, the destination of a volume inside a container must be a non-existing or empty directory. It is not currently feasible in Docker containers with a mounted volume.

A workaround is to watch for changes in a separate mounted hot folder, and copy these changes into the Sitecore web root. To make sure that this watch process is initiated on startup, you can override the default Sitecore production ENTRYPOINT.

This combination of a watch process and a companion ENTRYPOINT is what is included in the sitecore-docker-tools-assets image.

The sitecore-docker-tools-assets image development ENTRYPOINT

In addition to other scripts that help you in the image build process, the sitecore-docker-tools-assets image contains the following scripts:

  • Watch script:

    C:\tools\scripts\Watch-Directory.ps1: watches source path for file changes and updates the destination path accordingly.

  • ENTRYPOINT scripts:

    • C:\tools\entrypoints\iis\Development.ps1 : a development ENTRYPOINT script to use for IIS-based roles (for example, cm, cd, xconnect).

    • C:\tools\entrypoints\worker\Development.ps1 : a development ENTRYPOINT script to use for .NET Core-based worker roles (for example, xdbsearchworker, xdbautomationworker, or cortexprocessingworker).

Each of the Development.ps1 scripts functions in the the same way:

  • They start the watch process (Watch-Directory.ps1) as a background job if a directory is mounted into C:\deploy.

  • They call the default Sitecore ENTRYPOINT.


C:\deploy is the default source directory, but you can override this. You can customize parameters for the watch script to use different source and destination paths and also to exclude additional files and folders.

Understand the solution structure

Sitecore development with Docker introduces a new folder to a typical solution: the docker folder. The docker folder contains files and folders to support Docker development.

The custom-images\docker folder has the following structure:


Each of the [environment] folders serves as:

  • A destination for your code deployment.

  • A source for the development ENTRYPOINT watch script.

In this case, the website folder serves Sitecore website/platform containers (cm, cd, and so on) and the xconnect folder serves Sitecore xConnect containers (such as xconnect).

The Docker Examples environment projects

The Docker Examples repository has two projects that demonstrate file deployment scenarios. Go to the custom-images folder and open the solution DockerExamples.sln in Visual Studio:

  • DockerExamples.Website: facilitates the build and publish of website/platform artifacts and includes a simple modification to the default Sample Inner Sublayout.ascx sublayout.

  • DockerExamples.XConnect: facilitates the build and publish of xConnect artifacts.

In a Helix solution, the DockerExamples.Website and DockerExamples.XConnect projects are often broken out into separate environment modules and one or more project/feature modules, but they are combined here for the sale of simplicity.

Each of these projects has a DockerDeploy publish profile:

How to select a profile in a Visual Studio solution.

If you open the DockerDeploy.pubxml file for each profile, you can see that they are configured to publish to the corresponding docker\deploy environment subfolders: DockerExamples.Website to docker\deploy\website and DockerExamples.XConnect to docker\deploy\xconnect.

File deployment options

The Docker Examples solution is a simple example that uses a basic Visual Studio file publish. In a real-world solution, you mayuse more robust deployment mechanisms such as those included in Team Development for Sitecore (TDS), Helix Publishing Pipeline (HPP), or your own custom approach.

However, the end goal is the same: to get your files to the appropriate docker\deploy environment sub-folder.

This is similar to following the Sitecore development best-practice of deploying to your web root, but instead of sending files directly to the web root, you send them to docker\deploy.

Apply to Sitecore runtime images

To enable runtime file deployment in your Sitecore images:

  1. Open the Sitecore runtime Dockerfile for the cm service. You can see the TOOLING_IMAGE is brought in at the start with an ARG (configured in Docker Compose), and then initiated as a named build stage tooling:

    FROM ${TOOLING_IMAGE} as tooling

    The tools folder (which includes the ENTRYPOINT scripts) is copied in from the tooling image (to C:\tools):

    COPY --from=tooling \tools\ \tools\
  2. Open up the Sitecore runtime Dockerfile for the xconnect service, and you can see the same instructions here. Note these are also included in the cd Sitecore runtime Dockerfile for use in XP1 and XM1 topologies.

This is all that is needed in a Sitecore runtime Dockerfile.


It is important that the ENTRYPOINT script and the watch script are copied to your image, and are therefore available at runtime.

To configure in Docker Compose:

  1. Open the docker-compose.override.yml file at the root of the custom-images folder (for example, C:\sitecore\docker-examples\custom-images\docker-compose.override.yml).

    The following example shows how the cm service is configured:

      image: ${REGISTRY}${COMPOSE_PROJECT_NAME}-xp0-cm:${VERSION:-latest}
        context: ./docker/build/cm
          TOOLING_IMAGE: ${SITECORE_TOOLS_REGISTRY}sitecore-docker-tools-assets:${TOOLS_VERSION}
        - ${LOCAL_DEPLOY_PATH}\website:C:\deploy
      entrypoint: powershell -Command "& C:\tools\entrypoints\iis\Development.ps1"

    The following is a description of the configuration:

    • The TOOLING_IMAGE build arg is configured to use the sitecore-docker-tools-assets image repository. The specific image tag or version is determined by the TOOLS_VERSION variable which is defined in the environment file (.env).

    • Also in the .env file, the LOCAL_DEPLOY_PATH is set to the relative path of the docker\deploy folder.

    • This variable is used to expose the docker\deploy website environment sub-folder (.\docker\deploy\website) to the running container at the default watch script source folder (C:\deploy) with a Docker volume.

    • The default entrypoint is overridden, set to the development ENTRYPOINT script.

  2. The xconnect service is configured in a similar fashion. However, it maps the C:\deploy volume mount to the docker\deploy xconnect environment sub-folder instead.

        - ${LOCAL_DEPLOY_PATH}\xconnect:C:\deploy

    With this setup complete, you can now independently publish solution assets to either the website/platform or xConnect containers within your running Sitecore Docker instance.

Run Docker Examples

To run the Docker Examples:

  1. Open a PowerShell prompt, navigate to the custom-images folder, and run Docker Examples with the Docker Compose up command:

    docker-compose up -d
  2. When the instance is up and running, browse to https://cm.dockerexamples.localhost. The familiar Sitecore default page now has a Docker logo added:

    The standard Sitecore first page.

    The logo is added in the Sample Inner Sublayout.ascx sublayout in the DockerExamples.Website project.

  3. Open the Sample Inner Sublayout.ascx file in Visual Studio and make a change. For example, add a new paragraph below the Docker logo:

    <%@ Control Language="c#" AutoEventWireup="true" TargetSchema="" %>
    <div id="InnerCenter">
        <div id="Header">
            <img src="-/media/Default Website/sc_logo.ashx" alt="Sitecore" id="scLogo" />
            <p style="margin: 0 16px; font-size: 30px;">+</p>
            <img src="/images/docker-logo.png" alt="Docker" />
            <p><strong>= Awesome!</strong></p>
        <div id="Content">
            <div id="LeftContent">
                <sc:placeholder runat="server" key="content" />
        <div id="Footer"><hr class="divider"/>© <%= Sitecore.DateUtil.ToServerTime(DateTime.UtcNow).Year.ToString()%> Sitecore</div>
  4. Publish the DockerExamples.Website project using the DockerDeploy publish profile (right-click on the DockerExamples.Website project in Solution Explorer and click Publish).


    This publishes files to the docker\deploy website folder. This triggers the watch script that copies them out to the cm container's web root.

  5. When the publish is complete, refresh the https://cm.dockerexamples.localhost page in the browser and you can see your changes:

    The Sitecore home page showing the change you made.
  6. Stop and remove the containers using the down command:

    docker-compose down

Clean up the deploy folder

Just as the data folders for mssql and solr, files in your docker/deploy folders remain after a docker-compose down. To delete the files in these folders, use the included clean.ps1 script.

To clean up the deploy folder:

  • Navigate to the custom-images folder, and run the script in a PowerShell administrator prompt:


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