How to build and run a Node.js application using Nginx, Docker and Redis

Ajeet Raina
Ajeet Raina, Former Developer Growth Manager at Redis

Thanks to Node.js - Millions of frontend developers that write JavaScript for the browser are now able to write the server-side code in addition to the client-side code without the need to learn a completely different language. Node.js is a free, open-sourced, cross-platform JavaScript run-time environment. It is capable to handle thousands of concurrent connections with a single server without introducing the burden of managing thread concurrency, which could be a significant source of bugs.

In this quickstart guide, you will see how to build a Node.js application (visitor counter) using Nginx, Redis and Docker.

What do you need?#

  • Node.js: An open-source, cross-platform, back-end JavaScript runtime environment that runs on the V8 engine and executes JavaScript code outside a web browser.
  • Nginx: An open source software for web serving, reverse proxying, caching, load balancing, media streaming, and more.
  • Docker: a containerization platform for developing, shipping, and running applications.
  • Docker Compose: A tool for defining and running multi-container Docker applications.

Project structure#

├── docker-compose.yml
├── redis
├── nginx
│   ├── Dockerfile
│   └── nginx.conf
├── web1
│   ├── Dockerfile
│   ├── package.json
│   └── server.js
└── web2
    ├── Dockerfile
    ├── package.json
    └── server.js


– Install Docker Desktop

Use Docker's install guide to setup Docker Desktop for Mac or Windows on your local system.


Docker Desktop comes with Docker compose installed by default, hence you don't need to install it separately.

Step 1. Create a Docker compose file#

Create an empty file with the below content and save it by name - "docker-compose.yml"

version: '3.9'
    image: 'redis:alpine'
      - '6379:6379'
    restart: on-failure
    build: ./web
    hostname: web1
      - '81:5000'
    restart: on-failure
    build: ./web
    hostname: web2
      - '82:5000'
    build: ./nginx
    - '80:80'
    - web1
    - web2

The compose file defines an application with four services redisweb1web2 and nginx. When deploying the application, docker-compose maps port 80 of the web service container to port 80 of the host as specified in the file.


By default, Redis runs on port 6379. Make sure you don't run another instance of Redis on your system or port 6379 on the host is not being used by another container, otherwise the port should be changed.

Step 2. Create an nginx directory and add the following files:#

File: nginx/nginx.conf

upstream loadbalancer {
  server web1:5000;
  server web2:5000;

server {
  listen 80;
  server_name localhost;
  location / {
    proxy_pass http://loadbalancer;

File: Dockerfile

FROM nginx:1.21.6
RUN rm /etc/nginx/conf.d/default.conf
COPY nginx.conf /etc/nginx/conf.d/default.conf

Step 3. Create a web directory and add the following files:#

File: web/Dockerfile

FROM node:14.17.3-alpine3.14

WORKDIR /usr/src/app

COPY ./package.json ./
RUN npm install
COPY ./server.js ./

CMD ["npm","start"]

File: web/package.json

  "name": "web",
  "version": "1.0.0",
  "description": "Running Node.js and Express.js on Docker",
  "main": "server.js",
  "scripts": {
    "start": "node server.js"
  "dependencies": {
    "express": "^4.17.2",
    "redis": "3.1.2"
  "author": "",
  "license": "MIT"

File: web/server.js

const express = require('express');
const redis = require('redis');
const app = express();
const redisClient = redis.createClient({
  host: 'redis',
  port: 6379

app.get('/', function(req, res) {
    redisClient.get('numVisits', function(err, numVisits) {
        numVisitsToDisplay = parseInt(numVisits) + 1;
        if (isNaN(numVisitsToDisplay)) {
            numVisitsToDisplay = 1;
        res.send('Number of visits is: ' + numVisitsToDisplay);
        redisClient.set('numVisits', numVisits);

app.listen(5000, function() {
    console.log('Web application is listening on port 5000');

Step 4. Deploy the application#

Let us deploy the full-fledged app using docker-compose:

$ docker-compose up -d
Creating nginx-nodejs-redis_redis_1 ... done
Creating nginx-nodejs-redis_web1_1  ... done
Creating nginx-nodejs-redis_web2_1  ... done
Creating nginx-nodejs-redis_nginx_1 ... done

Expected result

Listing the running containers. You should see three containers running and the port mapping as below:

docker-compose ps
           Name                        Command              State           Ports
nginx-nodejs-redis_nginx_1   /docker-entrypoint.sh ngin     Up>80/tcp
nginx-nodejs-redis_redis_1   docker-entrypoint.sh redis     Up>6379/tcp
nginx-nodejs-redis_web1_1    docker-entrypoint.sh npm       Up>5000/tcp
nginx-nodejs-redis_web2_1    docker-entrypoint.sh npm       Up>5000/tcp

Step 5. Testing the app#

After the application starts, navigate to http://localhost in your web browser or run:

curl localhost:80
curl localhost:80
web1: Total number of visits is: 1
curl localhost:80
web1: Total number of visits is: 2
$ curl localhost:80
web2: Total number of visits is: 3
$ curl localhost:80
web2: Total number of visits is: 4

Step 6. Monitoring Redis keys#

If you want to monitor the Redis keys, you can use the MONITOR command. Install redis-cli on your Mac system using brew install redis and then directly connect to Redis container by issuing the following command:

% redis-cli> monitor
1646485507.290868 [0] "get" "numVisits"
1646485507.309070 [0] "set" "numVisits" "5"
1646485509.228084 [0] "get" "numVisits"
1646485509.241762 [0] "set" "numVisits" "6"
1646485509.619369 [0] "get" "numVisits"
1646485509.629739 [0] "set" "numVisits" "7"
1646485509.990926 [0] "get" "numVisits"
1646485509.999947 [0] "set" "numVisits" "8"
1646485510.270934 [0] "get" "numVisits"
1646485510.286785 [0] "set" "numVisits" "9"
1646485510.469613 [0] "get" "numVisits"
1646485510.480849 [0] "set" "numVisits" "10"
1646485510.622615 [0] "get" "numVisits"
1646485510.632720 [0] "set" "numVisits" "11"

Further References#