I apologize in advance for the length - but this is interesting, especially for architects and traefik wizards.

The Challange:

The bottom line is, I'm hoping that there's a setup in which we can leverage traefiks dynamic config capability to:

detect automatically when a container is stopped, and know to fallback to external services on developer machine / external host.

Alternatively - when a local-db container is started, know to prefer it over db service from external source.

The full picture

I need to optimize a workflow for a couple of teams.

The constraints:

  • developers work on a multi-layer complex micro-service mesh
  • number of services in the mesh is ~50, some of which are memory-intensive
  • local demos & acceptance tests requires to show the whole mesh works from end-user point of view
  • developers are now asked to run all the mesh locally, except for some shared databases with live data replicas - which may occasionally also be run locally instead.

This requires to run on developer machine the absolute minimum required. Current solution relays on docker-compose and traefik@1.x, and I'm asked to preserve this, however, I believe upgrading to traefik@2.x would be accepted.

Pursued Use Cases

I'm actually pursuing with you here two use-cases, which I believe have the same solution - at least in theory...

Use-Case one - local dev of multiple micro-services

Dev-Mode = running a process in debug mode, with IDE, file-watch live reloads, etc.

AS A    - developer of services in mid layers of the service mesh
I WANT  - to be able to direct traffic to services under development to
          native processes on my machine, and keep the rest in the compose 
SO THAT - I can run in Dev-Mode only services under development, 
          while all the rest in the mesh run using production-level docker 
          images in docker-compose.

Use-Case two - local dev and external database

AS A    - developer of data brokers in the mesh
I WANT  - to control if containers get to the shared db or to local 
          db container using traefik
SO THAT - I can keep applications in the containers completely agnostic to 
          the topography in which they run

So what's missing?

As a start - Since Traefik is the service-buss through which all inter-container communications pass - I'm looking for a way to configure traefik to consume services from outside the docker-compose network.

The first use-case means to use traefik as the service buss - the sole entity that knows where each service runs, which could be a container, or a service external to the docker-compose network.

The second use-case means to setup traefik to direct traffic to a process runs outside the docker-compose network, but specifically on the developer's machine, which in turn, consumes services from the compose network (for this, the dev compose, unlike production compose - exposes an entrypoint for each node in the mesh, including for services that are consumed only internally on production).

Two for the price of one

I know there are two questions here, but I could not think of another way to ask each question separately and get answers relevant to the full picture...

I'm hoping that there's a setup in which we can leverage traefiks dynamic config capability to:

detect automatically when a container is stopped, and know to fallback to external services on developer machine or any other host for the matter. Alternatively - when a db container is started, knows to prefer it over external db service.

We can ask developers to add records to their hosts file, but a DNS-based solution would be much preferred, especially if we can use the DNS built-in to docker :)

Help ?

Any help or point to the right direction would be very appreciated!

  • found one piece of the puzzle. Docker v18.03 and above - the docker host is available in the bridge network as host.docker.local. Jul 19, 2020 at 11:48
  • woups! I mean host.docker.internal ... :P Jul 19, 2020 at 15:46

1 Answer 1


I've done it.

Check out the solution in isolation demonstrated here:



  1. the developer host machine is present inside the docker-compose network as host.docker.internal.
  2. file provider provides services and routes for each service the team maintains. routes in file provider are set to low priority.
  3. docker provider provides services and routes for each docker-compose container. routes created this way are set to high priority.

The result:

  • when the container is present - it's used.
  • when the container is stopped - traefik will try the developer machine.

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