Environment variables

Environment variables are a common way to configure various buildpacks at build-time.

Below are a few ways you can do so. All of them will use our samples repo for simplicity.

Using CLI arguments (--env)

The --env parameter must be one of the following:

  • VARIABLE=VALUE
  • VARIABLE, where the value of VARIABLE will be taken from the local environment
Example:
# clone the repo
git clone https://github.com/buildpacks/samples

# set an environment variable
export FOO=BAR

# build the app
pack build sample-app \
    --env "HELLO=WORLD" \
    --env "FOO" \
    --builder cnbs/sample-builder:bionic \
    --buildpack  samples/buildpacks/hello-world/ \
    --buildpack samples/apps/bash-script/bash-script-buildpack/ \
    --path  samples/apps/bash-script/

# run the app
docker run sample-app

The following environment variables were set and available to buildpacks at build-time:

Name Value Source
HELLO WORLD hard-coded inline value
FOO BAR current environment

Using env files (--env-file)

The --env-file parameter must be a path to a file where each line is one of the following:

  • VARIABLE=VALUE
  • VARIABLE, where the value of VARIABLE will be taken from the current environment
Example:
# clone the repo
git clone https://github.com/buildpacks/samples

# set an environment variable
export FOO=BAR

# create an env file
echo -en "HELLO=WORLD\nFOO" > ./envfile

# build the app
pack build sample-app \
    --env-file ./envfile \
    --builder cnbs/sample-builder:bionic \
    --buildpack  samples/buildpacks/hello-world/ \
    --buildpack samples/apps/bash-script/bash-script-buildpack/ \
    --path  samples/apps/bash-script/

# run the app
docker run sample-app

The following environment variables were set and available to buildpacks at build-time:

Name Value Source
HELLO WORLD hard-coded value in file
FOO BAR current environment

NOTE: Variables defined using --env take precedence over variables defined in --env-file.

Using Project Descriptor

The --descriptor parameter must be a path to a file which follows the project.toml schema. Without the --descriptor flag, pack build will use the project.toml file in the application directory if it exists. You can define environment variables in an env table in the file, and pass those into the application.

Example:
# clone the repo
git clone https://github.com/buildpacks/samples

# Add an environment variable to the project.toml
cat >> samples/apps/bash-script/project.toml <<EOL
[[build.env]]
name="HELLO"
value="WORLD"
EOL

# build the app
pack build sample-app \
    --builder cnbs/sample-builder:bionic \
    --buildpack  samples/buildpacks/hello-world/ \
    --buildpack samples/apps/bash-script/bash-script-buildpack/ \
    --path  samples/apps/bash-script/

# run the app
docker run sample-app

The following environment variables were set and available to buildpacks at build-time:

Name Value Source
HELLO WORLD hard-coded value in file

NOTE: Variables defined using --env or --env-file take precedence over variables defined in the project.toml.

NOTE: project.toml can’t detect environment variables (so, for instance, if one ran export FOO=BAR and added name=FOO to the project.toml, it wouldn’t detect any value set for FOO).