Dynamically build container images with Docker Golang API

Building dynamic container images with Dockers Golang REST API. Reduce build times, perform CI/CD and simplify workflows.

Dynamically building and deploying Docker images recently became a requirement in one of my personal projects I've been working on for some time.


I needed to build an image in a lightning fast manner suitable for local development while keeping the same process I use to build images in my CI process. Even better, all of this needed to be completed in under five seconds as the code is being run in the context of a rest request.

The projects Monorepo meant that the standard docker build . would upload the sourcecode and dependencies of six services. Uploading the build context took over ten seconds on its own. I opted to use the Golang REST API library given these challenges.

Simple and straight to the point

go get github.com/docker/docker

package main

import (


	Assumes you will be TARing your current working directory. As the dockerfile
	and other artifacts must be in the TAR ensure it is in the working dir or
	manually write it into the TAR.
func main() {
	currentDir, _ := os.Getwd()
	contextTar, err := tarMyRepo(currentDir)


	Create a client, build an image and cleanup.
	The context io.Reader will be closed by the client call automatically.
func buildImage(
	contextTar io.Reader,
	tag string, // "Image Name"
	dockerfilePath string, // Relative path within the archive to the dockerfile
) {
	docker, err := client.NewEnvClient()
	if err != nil {
		log.Fatal("Could not create new docker client", err)
	defer docker.Close()

	opts := types.ImageBuildOptions{
		Context:    contextTar,
		Tags:       []string{tag},
		Dockerfile: dockerfilePath,

	resp, err := docker.ImageBuild(
	defer resp.Body.Close()

		Must block until resp.Body is closed. Failure to do so will stop the image
		build with no notification.
	_, err = io.Copy(os.Stdout, resp.Body)

	TARs are read and written to in a stream.
	We must recurse through the passed rootPath directory and build headers then
	write the data for the file.
func tarMyRepo(rootPath string) (io.Reader, error) {
	var buffer bytes.Buffer
	archive := tar.NewWriter(&buffer)

	filepath.Walk(rootPath, func(path string, info os.FileInfo, err error) error {
			If this is a symlink, skip processing
		if info.Mode()&os.ModeSymlink == os.ModeSymlink {
			return nil

		if info.IsDir() {
			return nil

			Builds a basic TAR header for the file at `path`. This must still be
			cleaned up in later steps
		header, _ := tar.FileInfoHeader(info, path)

			The path from `tar.FileInfoHeader` is absolute.
			This removes the absolute path to the rootPath and ensures cross OS
		header.Name = strings.ReplaceAll(filepath.ToSlash(path), rootPath, "")

		data, _ := os.Open(path)
		defer data.Close()

			Write the file header, then the data. This can be extended to write
			arbitrary files outside of the path into the build context.
		io.Copy(archive, data)

		return nil

	return &buffer, nil