Microsoft Bot Framework: How to Develop a Bot in Docker Container

By: Core BTS | March 10, 2020

Docker image for developing chat bots using Microsoft Bot Framework v4 SDK. This developer base image for BotBuilder V4 should make life easier to isolate the development environment when you shuffle between multiple projects and its dependencies.


In this post, I’ll be sharing about two key things:

  • How to create a new bot in the Docker container
  • How to run existing projects inside Docker container aka dockerize existing bot framework project

For the above, I’ll be using the Docker image – rjesh/botfx which I built with the pre-requisites for Microsoft Bot Framework project and published in the Docker hub. For time being this image only supports the NodeJS based project (JavaScript and TypeScript).

botbuilder for Docker

Before we get started with the details, I assume you have already installed the Docker engine in your development machine and you have fair understanding on the concepts Docker image and containers.

Pull Image from Docker Hub

  1. Make sure that the Docker engine in running and run the below in the terminal/command prompt
  2. Pull Docker image from the Docker hub.
 1 docker pull rjesh/botfx 

Section #1 – Create New Bot in Docker Container

Let’s create a new bot in the Docker container with the below steps, we are not going to install any of the dependencies like NodeJS, Yeoman generator and BotBuilder in the host machine.

Open the terminal and create new folder for the project.

1  # Create project folder to be mounted from host as volume 
2                      mkdir [project] 
3                       cd [project] 

Launch the container, using the below command. MacOS:

1 docker run -it --rm --name ${PWD##*/} -v $PWD:/usr/app/botfx -p 3978:3978 rjesh/botfx 


1 docker run -it --rm --name [project-folder] -v /c/src/[project-folder]:/usr/app/botfx -p 3978:3978 rjesh/botfx 
botfx container terminal

Your container should be ready now, lets create the project using the Yeoman generator botbuilder.

1 # Run the bot in interactive mode 
2           yo botbuilder 
project structure

Once the project is created, you can run the project by using the below command

1 cd [project]
2  npm start
Chat running in Docker container

Now the bot starts running inside the container with the port 3978 exposed to the host. Launch the Bot Framework Emulator and connect to the bot using URL http://localhost:3978/api/messages and start the conversation with the bot.

ChatBot connected with emulator

In order to make any changes to the project, just open the folder in host machine in Visual Studio Code and start making changes to the project and it should be reflected back in the container.

Section #2 – Dockerize Existing Bot Framework Project

Open the terminal and navigate to your existing bot project

1  # Using bot builder samples cloned "using-cards" folder 
2                     cd 06.using-cards 

Launch the container, using the below command


1  docker run -it --rm --name ${PWD##*/} -v $PWD:/usr/app/botfx -p 3978:3978 rjesh/botfx 


1  docker run -it --rm --name 06.using-cards -v /c/src/06.using-cards:/usr/app/botfx -p 3978:3978 rjesh/botfx 

Install the dependencies

1 npm install

Once the dependencies are installed, you can run the project by using the below command

1 npm start

Use the emulator to start the conversation and to test the bot.

sample project in bot emulator

Enter exit in the terminal, to exit out of the container.

1 exit

Clean Up

In order to stop the container first get container ID and then use remove it.

1    docker ps -a
2  docker stop [id]
3    docker rm [id]

To remove the images

1  docker images -a
2  docker rmi [id]

When running in Windows, make sure that the project folders’ drive is shared in Docker settings. Also the folder property advanced sharing, sharing has been enabled. In some cases you might need to use npm install --force.

Core BTS is a digital transformation consultancy that helps organizations simplify technical complexity, accelerate transformation, and drive business outcomes.

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