Containers are meant to provide component isolation in a modern software stack. Put your database in one container, your web application in another, and they can all be scaled, managed, restarted, and swapped out independently. But developing and testing a multi-container application isn’t anything like working with a single container at a time.

Docker Compose was created by Docker to simplify the process of developing and testing multi-container applications. It’s a command-line tool, reminiscent of the Docker client, that takes in a specially formatted descriptor file to assemble applications out of multiple containers and run them in concert on a single host. (Tools like Docker Swarm or Kubernetes deploy multi-container apps in production across multiple hosts.)

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