An App’s Brief Journey from Source to Image

pack for the journey

In this tutorial, we’ll explain how to use pack and buildpacks to create a runnable app image from source code.

That means you’ll need to make sure you have pack installed:

Install pack

NOTE: pack is only one implementation of the Cloud Native Builpacks Platform Specification.

Buildpack base camp

Before we set out, you’ll need to know the basics of buildpacks and how they work.

What is a buildpack?

A buildpack is something you’ve probably leveraged without knowing, as they’re currently being used in many cloud platforms. A buildpack’s job is to gather everything your app needs to build and run, and it often does this job quickly and quietly.

That said, while buildpacks are often a behind-the-scenes detail, they are at the heart of transforming your source code into a runnable app image.

Auto-detection

What enables buildpacks to go unnoticed is auto-detection. This happens when a platform sequentially tests groups of buildpacks against your app’s source code. The first group that deems itself fit for your source code will become the selected set of buildpacks for your app. Detection criteria is specific to each buildpack – for instance, an NPM buildpack might look for a package.json, and a Go buildpack might look for Go source files.

Let’s see auto-detection in action by running pack build against a simple Java app.

Next stop, the end

Run the following commands in a shell to clone and build this simple Java app.

git clone [email protected]:buildpack/sample-java-app.git
cd sample-java-app
pack build myapp

NOTE: This is your first time running pack build for myapp, so you’ll notice a couple of things:

A message about selecting a default builder. A builder is essentially an image containing buildpacks. Follow the provided instructions to select one, then run pack build myapp again.

The build might take longer than usual. Subsequent builds will take advantage of various forms of caching. If you’re curious, try running pack build myapp a second time to see the difference in build time.

That’s it! You’ve now got a runnable app image called myapp available on your local Docker daemon. We did say this was a brief journey after all. Take note that your app was built without needing to install a JDK, run Maven, or otherwise configure a build environment. pack and buildpacks took care of that for you.

Beyond the journey

To test out your new app image locally, you can run it with Docker:

docker run --rm -p 8080:8080 myapp

Now hit localhost:8080 in your favorite browser and take a minute to enjoy the view.

Take your image to the skies

pack uses buildpacks to help you easily create OCI images that you can run just about anywhere. Try deploying your new image to your favorite cloud!

In case you need it, pack build has a handy flag called --publish that will publish your app image to a Docker registry after building it.


Last modified by Andrew Meyer