Laravel Sail: Simplify Your Development with Docker

Are you tired of wrestling with complex local development setups for your Laravel projects? Look no further than Laravel Sail. It is a revolutionary Docker-based tool designed to simplify and streamline the development process. Sail prevents the need for manual configuration, offering a pre-configured environment with all the essential components. It includes PHP, MySQL, and Redis within the isolated Docker containers.

This comprehensive guide will help you to master Laravel Sail, no matter if you are well-experienced or a newbie. Here, we’ll cover everything from its fundamental functionalities and setup process to its wide-ranging use cases and advanced features. For developers with each level of experience, Laravel Sail holds the key to unlocking an efficient development experience.

One fact that makes this guide unique is that each step and insight here is initiated by a top Laravel development services provider. This allows you to get hands on a proven roadmap ensuring a smooth deployment.

What is Laravel Sail?

Laravel Sail is a streamlined development environment specifically designed for Laravel applications. It leverages Docker containers to create a fully isolated and pre-configured workspace. This prevents the need for manual configuration of individual components like PHP, MySQL, and Redis. This approach offers several advantages, including:

  • Docker Containers. Laravel Sail uses Docker containers, which are self-contained units of software. It includes all the necessary components to run an application. This allows Sail to create solo environments for each project.
  • docker-compose.yml. This development environment relies on a configuration file named docker-compose.yml. It defines the services needed for your Laravel application. This file specifies the versions, ports, and other settings required for each service.
  • Sail Command. It provides a dedicated command-line interface (CLI) called sail. This CLI interacts with Docker containers, allowing you to perform various actions. It can include starting, stopping, rebuilding, and managing the development environment.
  • Volumes. Sail uses volumes to maintain data between container restarts. This ensures that the application’s code, configuration, and database files are not lost when containers are stopped or rebuilt.

Overall, Laravel Sail offers a powerful and efficient solution for streamlining the development workflow. By leveraging Docker containers, this tool ensures consistency, simplifies setup and provides isolation. Hence, it empowers you to focus on building scalable Laravel applications.

Why Use Laravel Sail?

For Laravel developers seeking a streamlined development environment, Laravel Sail appears as a compelling choice. Instead of battling complex local setups, Sail leverages Docker containers to create a pre-configured and solo workspace. This approach unlocks a multitude of benefits:

  • Reduced Complexity. Sail prevents the need for manual configuration of individual components. This frees you from setup hassles and allows you to write code and build features.
  • Improved Consistency. With its pre-defined containers, your development environment remains consistent across different machines. This ensures predictable behavior and avoids issues arising from environment-specific configurations.
  • Simplified Collaboration. All team members benefit from the same consistent environment. Regardless of their local setup, facilitating communication and code-sharing.
  • Streamlined Testing. You can easily spin up a fresh containerized environment for each test run. This helps identify and resolve bugs efficiently.

Beyond the individual benefits, Laravel Sail enables a more streamlined and efficient development workflow. By minimizing setup complexities and facilitating collaboration, Sail enables you to focus on building Laravel applications.

For those seeking help to leverage the full potential of Laravel Sail, consider consulting experienced Laravel developers. Their expertise can help you navigate complex projects and use them as per your application requirements.

What are the Prerequisites to Get Started With Laravel Sail?

Desktop enables you to run applications within isolated containers. Download and install Docker Desktop from the official website for your respective operating system (Windows, macOS, or Linux).

Additional Points to Consider:

  • Windows Users. For Windows users, ensure WSL 2 (Windows Subsystem for Linux 2) is configured as the default backend for Docker Desktop. This allows you to run Linux containers within the Windows environment.
  • Basic Knowledge. Indeed, Sail aims to simplify development. Still,  having a fundamental understanding of PHP, Laravel, and the command line will improve the experience and troubleshooting capabilities.
  • Composer. Composer is a dependency management tool for PHP. It is important for managing dependencies within your Laravel project. Ensure Composer is installed and accessible on your system.

With the prerequisites in place, you’re ready to undertake the Laravel Sail development. But, you must ensure these requirements are in their place. These are the foundations for a smooth and efficient development experience.

How to Install Laravel Sail?

Streamlining your Laravel development workflow starts with a robust development environment. Laravel Sail comes to the rescue, leveraging Docker to create a pre-configured and isolated environment. Here’s how to install and get started with Sail:

Step 1: Create a New Laravel Project

Before diving into Sail, you need a Laravel project to work with. 

1. Create a New Laravel Project. Use the Laravel Artisan CLI tool to create a new project:

laravel new my-project

Replace my-project with your preferred project name. This command will generate a new Laravel application directory named after your chosen name. Steer into this directory before proceeding: 

cd my-project

Once your project is created, you’re ready to proceed with installing Sail and configuring your development environment.

Step 2: Install Laravel Sail

Streamlining your Laravel development workflow starts with a robust development environment. Laravel Sail comes to the rescue, leveraging Docker to create a pre-configured and isolated environment. Here’s how to install and get started with Sail:

1. Install Laravel Sail. As you already have a Laravel project set up, let’s install Sail. Go to your project directory and execute the following command:

./vendor/bin/sail install

This command performs several important actions:

  • Downloads and configures the necessary Docker images for your development environment.
  • Creates the docker-compose.yml file, which defines the services and configurations for your development containers.
  • Incorporate Sail within your project, preparing it for use.

This command uses the sail binary located within your project’s vendor directory. It interacts with the Docker Compose tool to download pre-built Docker images for your chosen services. Then it configures them based on the specifications defined in the docker-compose.yml file.

Step 3: Choose Database

With Sail installed, it’s time to select the database engine you’ll utilize for your Laravel project. Sail offers support for various database options, ensuring flexibility in your development environment.

  • During Installation. During the Sail installation process (./vendor/bin/sail install), you’ll be prompted to choose your preferred database driver.
  • Available Options. Sail typically provides options for popular database engines like MySQL and Postgres.
  • Selecting the Driver. Select the database driver that best aligns with your project requirements and personal preferences.

Select the desired database driver based on your project’s requirements and familiarity. Sail will automatically configure the chosen database within its corresponding Docker container. You can also modify the database configuration later by editing the DATABASE_URL environment variable in your .env file.

Step 4: Start the Docker Containers

With the database selected, it’s time to bring your development environment to life by starting the Docker containers. Sail provides a convenient command for this purpose.

1. Command Execution. Run the following command in your project directory:

./vendor/bin/sail up -d
  • Explanation:
    • ./vendor/bin/sail up. This command invokes the sail up subcommand, which instructs Sail to start the defined services in the docker-compose.yml file.
    • -d. The -d flag directs Sail to run the containers in detached mode. It means they’ll operate in the background without requiring you to keep the terminal window open.

With this command, Sail initiates the creation and startup of individual Docker containers for each service. It includes PHP, MySQL (or your chosen database), and other essential components. This establishes your fully functional development environment, ready for you to begin working on your Laravel project.

Step 5: Access Application

Once the Docker containers are up and running, you’re just a few steps away from accessing your Laravel application.

1. Open Web Browser. Launch your preferred web browser.

2. Navigate to Application URL. Enter the following address into the address bar: http://localhost:8000

3. Observe the Welcome Screen. If everything is configured correctly, you should be greeted by the Laravel welcome screen, indicating a successful setup.

Now, you’ve successfully installed and configured Laravel Sail. Also, the development environment is all set. Use this streamlined environment to build and test your Laravel applications.

Remember, if you encounter any difficulties during the setup process or require further assistance in Laravel Sail, consider seeking the expertise of a Laravel development agency. Their knowledge and guidance can prove invaluable in navigating complex projects and ensuring a smooth development experience.

Take your web app to the next level with our Laravel development services

What are the Use Cases of Laravel Sail?

Laravel Sail transcends its core functionality of simplifying local development setups. It empowers developers with a multitude of use cases, enhancing the overall development workflow and experience. Let’s delve into the key use cases of Laravel Sail:

1. Development Environment

  • Reduced Complexity. Sail prevents the need for manual configuration of individual components. It enables you to focus on writing code and building features, saving time and effort.
  • Consistent Environment. Pre-configured Docker containers ensure a consistent development environment across different machines. It reduces compatibility issues and ensures consistent behavior throughout the development cycle.

2. Collaboration

  • Shared Environment. Team members benefit from a uniform development environment regardless of their local setup. This facilitates collaboration and efficient communication during the development process.
  • Version Control Compatibility. Sail integrates with version control systems, allowing you to share and collaborate on code changes within a consistent environment.

3. Isolation

  • Independent Containers. Each service (PHP, MySQL, etc.) operates within its own container. It benefits in preventing conflicts and dependency issues between projects. Also, these solo containers foster a clean and controlled development environment, minimizing unexpected issues.
  • Simplified Testing. Testing becomes a breeze, as developers can easily spin up fresh containers for each test run. This ensures clean and isolated testing conditions, leading to more reliable results.

4. Testing

  • Isolated Testing Environments. Sail facilitates the development of isolated testing environments. It also enables developers to run tests without affecting the actual application or other project components.
  • Simplified Test Setup. The ability to spin up and tear down containers quickly streamlines the test setup process. It allows developers to focus on writing and executing tests efficiently.

5. Integration

  • Integration Testing. Sail provides a foundation for integration testing, as developers can integrate external services or APIs within their Docker containers. This simulates real-world scenarios and facilitates testing.
  • Simplified Deployment. The use of Docker containers throughout development offers a smooth transition to deployment environments. This containerized structure often aligns with production setups, minimizing potential deployment issues.

Leveraging the diverse use cases of Laravel Sail, you can unlock greater efficiency, collaboration, and consistency throughout the development lifecycle of the Laravel projects.

What are Some Advanced Methods to Use Laravel Sail?

Laravel Sail offers several features extending beyond its core functionalities. With its advanced capabilities, you can further optimize their development workflows and improve the development experience. Let’s explore some of the most valuable advanced methods to leverage with Laravel Sail:

1. Customize Services

  • Modify Configurations. The docker-compose.yml file acts as the cornerstone for configuring Sail’s services. You can tailor various aspects, such as memory allocation, environment variables, and exposed ports. This helps you to fine-tune the environment to suit specific project requirements.
  • Integrate Additional Services. Sail isn’t limited to the default services. You can integrate additional services like Redis, Memcached, or custom services within your Docker containers. This benefits you in expanding the capabilities of your development environment.

2. Run Artisan Commands

  • Direct Execution. Sail allows you to execute Artisan commands directly within the Docker container environment. Use the sail php artisan <command> syntax, replacing <command> with the desired Artisan command. This enables you to use Artisan’s functionalities without leaving the terminal environment.

3. Customize Network

  • Network Configuration. Sail provides the flexibility to customize the network configuration of your Docker containers. You can establish custom networks, define network aliases, and control how containers communicate with each other and the external world, offering fine-grained control over your development environment’s network behavior.

4. Leverage Volumes

  • Persistent Data Storage. Use volumes to store data between container restarts. This ensures that modifications made to specific directories within the container are retained. This is important for persisting application data, code changes, and other essential information.

5. Use Shell Access

  • Direct Container Access. Sail offers the ability to gain shell access directly into individual Docker containers. Use the sail sh <service> command, replacing <service> with the desired service name. This allows you to interact with the container’s file system, manage processes, and troubleshoot issues within the container environment.

With these advanced techniques, you can explore many functionalities of Laravel Sail and streamline your development workflow. Yet, you have to be precise on the preference of functionalities and deployment to ensure if it’s required on your application or not.

FAQs About Laravel Sail

Does Laravel Sail use Apache?
No, Laravel Sail does not use Apache as the web server. Instead, it leverages a pre-configured Nginx container within the Docker environment. Nginx is a popular, high-performance web server known for its efficiency and scalability, making it a suitable choice for Laravel applications.
Can beginners with limited Docker knowledge use Laravel Sail?
Yes, Laravel Sail offers a user friendly experience even for developers with limited Docker knowledge. The installation process is straightforward, and Sail provides a command-line interface (CLI) with clear instructions for managing your development environment.
How can Laravel Sail be customized to suit specific project requirements?
Laravel Sail allows customization through:
  • Modifying the docker-compose.yml file for service configurations, network settings, and adding custom services.
  • Using volumes for persistent data storage.
  • Gaining shell access within containers for advanced tasks.
For complex customizations, consider consulting experienced Laravel development service providers.


Laravel Sail presents a robust solution for managing Laravel applications with Docker, offering streamlined setup and deployment processes. Its user friendly interface and extensive documentation make it accessible to developers of all levels. With benefits like scalability and ease of use, Laravel Sail is an invaluable tool for improving the Laravel project’s development experience.

Still confused about how Laravel Sail can benefit your application? Our team of Laravel experts is here to provide tailored consultation, solutions, and step-by-step deployment

To improve the performance of your Laravel web app

Mayur Upadhyay is a tech professional with expertise in Shopify, WordPress, Drupal, Frameworks, jQuery, and more. With a proven track record in web development and eCommerce development.

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