Docker Inc. released updates to its application development tool for building containerized applications on Apple Macintosh systems that improves overall performance using virtiofs, an experimental file sharing capability.
Justin Cormack, Docker, Inc. CTO, says replacing the existing gRPC-FUSE file sharing capability in version 4.6 of Docker Desktop for Mac reduces the time required to synchronize changes between the host and virtual machine by up to 98%.
Many developers today edit source code on a macOS host while running the app itself in a Docker container. The source code is then shared between the host and the container via Docker volumes. Changes made to files located on the host system, however, must propagate quickly and reliably to the container file system to optimize productivity, notes Cormack.
Docker, Inc. reports that early users of virtiofs have seen a 98% improvement in the time it takes to complete a MariaDB import and a 90% improvement in the time it takes to complete a 284MB MySQL import.
Cormack says this capability will especially benefit developers that rely on frameworks to build applications. A developer using, for example, the Symfony PHP framework to edit source code needs to reload a page in the browser, which requires the web-server in the container to reread many PHP files stored on the host. That can result in poor performance as the host and container keep in sync via the mounted volume.
Since Apple launched systems based on its own M1 processors, Cormack says the number of developers employing Docker Desktop for Mac has steadily increased. Docker, Inc. also provides a Windows version of the tool and plans to make available an instance for Linux systems. Cormack adds that Docker is also starting to gain favor with developers building applications that will be ultimately deployed on a Linux server.
In general, more organizations are focusing on developer productivity as the number of application development projects being simultaneously launched increases. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, many organizations launched digital business transformation initiatives that are driven by microservices-based applications constructed using containers. Going forward, Cormack says developers should expect Docker, Inc. to add additional testing capabilities to its development tools as part of an ongoing effort to automate routine tasks.
It’s not clear to what degree automation will influence developer tool selection. Developers are more likely to be swayed by how well a tool works within the context of a framework they already know how to use. However, the organizations that hire developers may standardize on tools that enable them to build and deploy applications faster.
Regardless of the tools used to build applications, the rate at which applications are built continues to increase. As a result, more organizations will be embracing DevOps best practices to not only build applications but also deploy them faster. The challenge, of course, is going to be navigating all the dependencies that exist between applications built by teams of developers whose progress is hard to predict.