How do I access environment variables inside a Dockerfile?

By design (for better or worse), Docker doesn’t allow setting any environment variables during the Docker build process, only afterwards on running containers instantiated from the built images. The idea is that images should be fully portable and not tied to any specific environment. This means that your Aptible ENV variables, set via aptible config:set, are not available to commands executed during your Dockerfile build.

As a workaround for this, Aptible uses the values you set (with aptible config:set) to write a special .aptible.env file to a temporary local checkout of your app, immediately before building the app from its Dockerfile. The .aptible.env file will contain your current configuration key and value pairs in a format that can be sourced into your shell. For example, your .aptible.env file might look like:


To source your app’s current configuration for a command — say, bundle exec rake assets:precompile — you could use the following line in your Dockerfile:

# Assume that you've already ADDed your repo:
# ADD . /app
# WORKDIR /app

RUN set -a && . /app/.aptible.env && bundle exec rake assets:precompile

Note: do not use the .aptible.env file outside of Dockerfile instructions. Indeed, this file is only injected when your image is built, so changes to your configuration will not be reflected in the .aptible.env file unless you deploy again or rebuild. To access configuration variables in a container, fetch them from the environment directly.

The Enclave Platform