.NET Core 1.1 building with Docker and Cake

I’m going to attempt to catalog how I’m using Docker to test and build containers that are for deployment into Amazon ECS.

Build Process

  1. Use Dockerfile.build
    • Uses Cake:
      1. dotnet restore
      2. dotnet build
      3. dotnet test
      4. dotnet publish
  2. Save running image to container
  3. Copy publish directory out of container
  4. Use Dockerfile
    • Copy publish directory into image
  5. Push built image to ECS

Driving the build: Cake

I love Cake and have contributed some minor things to it. It does support .NET Core. However, the nuget.exe used to drive some critical things like nuget push does not. push is actually the only command I need that isn’t on .NET Core. So I standardized on requiring Mono for just the build container.

My base Cake file: build.cake

var target = Argument("target", "Default");
var tag = Argument("tag", "cake");

  .Does(() =>
    DotNetCoreRestore("src/\" \"test/\" \"integrate/");

  .Does(() =>
    DotNetCoreBuild("src/**/project.json\" \"test/**/project.json\" \"integrate/**/project.json");

  .Does(() =>
    var files = GetFiles("test/**/project.json");
    foreach(var file in files)

  .Does(() =>
    var settings = new DotNetCorePublishSettings
        Framework = "netcoreapp1.1",
        Configuration = "Release",
        OutputDirectory = "./publish/",
        VersionSuffix = tag

    DotNetCorePublish("src/Server", settings);



I broke out all the steps as I often run Cake for each step during development. You’ll notice that each dotnet command behaves differently. It’s very annoying.

I have a project structure that usually goes like this:

  • src – Source files
  • test – Unit tests for those source files
  • integrate – Integration tests that should run separately from unit tests.
  • misc – Other code stuff

Other things to notice:

  • Default is test. Don’t want to accidently publish
  • publish has a hard-coded entry point. Probably should make that argument.
  • tag is a tag I want to tag the published build with. I want to see something unique for each publish. I default this with cake for local publishes.

The Build Container: Dockerfile.build

I actually started with following the little HOW-TO from the ASP.NET team from here:

FROM cl0sey/dotnet-mono-docker:1.1-sdk

ARG TAG=docker

RUN mkdir /publish

COPY . .
RUN ./build.sh -t publish --scriptargs "--tag=${TAG}"

Notice the source image: cl0sey/dotnet-mono-docker:1.1-sdk

Someone was nice enough to already make a Docker image with Mono on top of the base microsoft/dotnet:1.1-sdk-projectjson image. The SDK image is what is needed for using all of the dotnet cli commands that aren’t just running.


  • ARG and ENV declarations for specifying the tag variable. I think ARG declares it and ENV allows it to be used as a bash-like variable.
  • creating a publish directory.
  • How I pass the tag variable to the Cake script.

The Deployment Container: Dockerfile

FROM microsoft/dotnet:1.1.0-runtime

COPY ./publish /app



ENTRYPOINT ["dotnet", "Server.dll"]


  • I actually use the official runtime image.
  • COPY command to grab the local publish directory and put it in the app directory inside the container.
  • I keep the default 5000 port. Why not? It’s all hidden in AWS.
  • I just declared my environment to be beta instead of staging
  • ENTRYPOINT has to be an array of strings. Server.dll is the executable assembly.

Hanging It All Together: CircleCI

I’m using CircleCI as my CI service because it’s free/cheap. Also, it runs Docker and can do Docker inside Docker. The docker commands will work just about anywhere though.

    - docker

    - docker info

    - docker build -t build-image --build-arg TAG="${CIRCLE_BRANCH}-${CIRCLE_BUILD_NUM}" -f Dockerfile.build .
    - docker create --name build-cont build-image

    branch: master
    - docker cp build-cont:/app/publish/. publish/
    - docker build -t server-api:latest .
    - docker tag server-api:latest $AWS_ACCOUNT_ID.dkr.ecr.eu-west-1.amazonaws.com/server-api:$CIRCLE_BUILD_NUM
    - ./push.sh


  • test phase
    • The test phase does docker build on Dockerfile.build This file does everything, including publish. The image is tagged as build-image.
    • test phase also creates a container called build-cont for possible deployment.
    • My tag is made of the branch name plus the build number. These are CircleCI variables.
  • deployment phase
    • named beta I could have more environments for deployment, I guess.
    • locked to the master branch. When I push feature branches, only the test phase runs to test things. Only when merged into master does it deploy.
    • docker cp copies the publish directory out of the build-cont container.
    • Dockerfile is used with docker build and tagged as server-api:latest
    • I also explicitly tag the image with my AWS ECS specific name. CircleCI hides my AWS account id in an environment variable for me.
    • push.sh actually does the push to AWS.

push.sh to AWS ECS

Finally, I want to save my Docker image.

#!/usr/bin/env bash

    aws --version
    aws configure set default.region eu-west-1
    aws configure set default.output json

    eval $(aws ecr get-login --region eu-west-1)
    docker push $AWS_ACCOUNT_ID.dkr.ecr.eu-west-1.amazonaws.com/visibility-api:$CIRCLE_BUILD_NUM


The bash script is copied in part from something else more complicated. You can’t just do the push command from the circle.yaml because of the need to use eval to login to AWS. My AWS push creds are also locked in a CircleCI environment variable that the aws ecr get-login command expects.

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