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The core concept of containerization lies in encapsulating all the necessary dependencies, code, configurations and other artifacts required for a project within a self-contained unit known as a container.

Docker has been widely adopted and successfully used to isolate development environments. It provides a lightweight and efficient solution for creating isolated and reproducible development environments.

Existing solutions

The concept of utilizing Docker containers for isolated development environments has gained significant popularity, and there exists a wide range of solutions that facilitate this approach. Some of the notable examples are:

  • Docker Compose: Docker Compose is a tool that allows you to define and manage multi-container Docker applications. It simplifies the process of defining and running complex multi-container setups, making it easier to set up and manage development environments.

  • Visual Studio Dev Containers: Visual Studio Code (VS Code) has an extension that enables developers to use Docker containers as development environments directly within the VS Code editor. It provides a seamless integration and allows for a consistent development experience across different machines.

  • Gitpod: Gitpod is a cloud-based development environment that leverages Docker containers. It provides a fully configured and isolated development environment for each project, enabling developers to start coding instantly without worrying about environment setup.

  • Code-server: Code-server is an open-source project that allows you to run Visual Studio Code in a local or remote Docker container. It enables developers to access a full-fledged VS Code environment through a web browser, making it convenient for remote development or collaborative coding.

  • DevSpace: DevSpace is a development tool that simplifies the workflow of developing applications with Kubernetes and Docker. It provides features like hot reloading, efficient image building, and deployment synchronization, making it easier to develop and test applications within containerized environments.

  • Docksal: Docksal is a development tool that offers a complete local development environment based on Docker. It provides a standardized and reproducible setup for different projects, including web servers, databases, and other services.

Limitations of existing solutions


Despite Docker was widely adopted to isolate development environments, and there are may great tools that allow us to develop directly in containers, each of existing solutions have significant limitations

  • Docker introduces an additional layer of complexity to the development workflow. Developers need to learn Docker concepts, commands, and best practices, which may require upfront time investment and ongoing maintenance.

  • Portability issues. One of the challenges regarding portability is encountered when using multi-container solutions like Docker Compose, as well as cloud services. These solutions can make it arduous, if not impossible, to migrate the development environment from one PC to another or transfer it to a cloud server or Kubernetes cluster. Other existinng solutions often rely on specific tooling, configurations, or extensions that are tightly integrated with their respective environments. Moving these environments to different setups may require additional effort to ensure compatibility and proper functioning.

  • Complexity of Configuration. Setting up the development environment with local IDE to work within Docker containers can involve configuring various files and settings, such as the Dockerfile, devcontainer.json, and extensions within the container. Managing these configurations and ensuring compatibility with specific project requirements may introduce additional complexity.

  • Insufficient flexibility. Certain available choices are tailored to specific projects and lack extensibility. These options come with a predefined set of installed tools, making it challenging to add new tools as it often involves the complexity of building a new Docker image.

  • Team Collaboration Challenges. Collaborating with team members who are not using specific tooling (for example, Visual Studio Dev Containers) or who have different development environments can present challenges. Synchronizing configurations, ensuring compatibility, and maintaining consistency across the team may require additional coordination and effort.


The Alnoda project strives to address the aforementioned limitations by offering highly convenient containerized environments that leverage the power of Docker containers. Explore Alnoda features to know how we tackle these challenges effectively.