Docker Compose build properties

In addition to the properties that control individual Docker projects, described in Container Tools build properties, you can also customize how Visual Studio builds your Docker Compose projects by setting the Docker Compose properties that MSBuild uses to build your solution. You can also control how the Visual Studio debugger runs your Docker Compose apps by setting file labels in Docker Compose configuration files.

How to set the MSBuild properties

To set the value of a property, edit the project file. For Docker Compose properties, this project file is the one with a .dcproj extension, unless otherwise indicated in the table in the next section. For example, suppose you want to specify to launch the browser when you start debugging. You can set the DockerLaunchAction property in the .dcproj project file as follows.


You can add the property setting to an existing PropertyGroup element, or if there isn't one, create a new PropertyGroup element.

Docker Compose MSBuild properties

The following table shows the MSBuild properties available for Docker Compose projects.

Property name Location Description Default value
AdditionalComposeFilePaths dcproj Specifies additional compose files in a semicolon-delimited list to be sent out to docker-compose.exe for all commands. Relative paths from the docker-compose project file (dcproj) are allowed. -
DockerComposeBaseFilePath dcproj Specifies the first part of the filenames of the docker-compose files, without the .yml extension. For example:
1. DockerComposeBaseFilePath = null/undefined: use the base file path docker-compose, and files will be named docker-compose.yml and docker-compose.override.yml
2. DockerComposeBaseFilePath = mydockercompose: files will be named mydockercompose.yml and mydockercompose.override.yml
3. DockerComposeBaseFilePath = ..\mydockercompose: files will be up one level.
DockerComposeBuildArguments dcproj Specifies the extra parameters to pass to the docker-compose build command. For example, --parallel --pull
DockerComposeDownArguments dcproj Specifies the extra parameters to pass to the docker-compose down command. For example, --timeout 500 -
DockerComposeProjectPath csproj or vbproj The relative path to the docker-compose project (dcproj) file. Set this property when publishing the service project to find the associated image build settings stored in the docker-compose.yml file. -
DockerComposeUpArguments dcproj Specifies the extra parameters to pass to the docker-compose up command. For example, --timeout 500 -
DockerDevelopmentMode dcproj Controls whether "build-on-host" optimization ("Fast Mode" debugging) is enabled. Allowed values are Fast and Regular. Fast
DockerLaunchAction dcproj Specifies the launch action to perform on F5 or Ctrl+F5. Allowed values are None, LaunchBrowser, and LaunchWCFTestClient None
DockerLaunchBrowser dcproj Indicates whether to launch the browser. Ignored if DockerLaunchAction is specified. False
DockerServiceName dcproj If DockerLaunchAction or DockerLaunchBrowser are specified, then DockerServiceName is the name of the service that should be launched. Use this property to determine which of the potentially many projects that a docker-compose file can reference will be launched. -
DockerServiceUrl dcproj The URL to use when launching the browser. Valid replacement tokens are "{ServiceIPAddress}", "{ServicePort}", and "{Scheme}". For example: {Scheme}://{ServiceIPAddress}:{ServicePort} -
DockerTargetOS dcproj The target OS used when building the Docker image. -


If you change the location of the docker compose files, by setting DockerComposeBaseFilePath to a relative path, then you also need to make sure that the build context is changed so that it references the solution folder. For example, if your docker compose file is a folder called DockerComposeFiles, then docker compose file should set the build context to ".." or "../..", depending on where it is relative to the solution folder.

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
<Project ToolsVersion="15.0" Sdk="Microsoft.Docker.Sdk">
  <PropertyGroup Label="Globals">
    <None Include="DockerComposeFiles\mydockercompose.override.yml">
    <None Include="DockerComposeFiles\mydockercompose.yml" />
    <None Include=".dockerignore" />

The mydockercompose.yml file should look like this, with the build context set to the relative path of the solution folder (in this case, ..).

version: '3.4'

    image: ${DOCKER_REGISTRY-}webapplication1
      context: ..
      dockerfile: WebApplication1\Dockerfile


DockerComposeBuildArguments, DockerComposeDownArguments, and DockerComposeUpArguments are new in Visual Studio 2019 version 16.3.

Docker Compose file labels

You can also override certain settings by placing a file named docker-compose.vs.debug.yml (for Debug configuration) or docker-compose.vs.release.yml (for Release configuration) in the same directory as your docker-compose.yml file. In this file, you can specify settings as follows:

    labels: "C:\\my_app_folder"

Use double quotes around the values, as in the preceding example, and use the backslash as an escape character for backslashes in paths.

Label name Description The arguments passed to the program when starting debugging. For .NET Core apps, these arguments are typically additional search paths for NuGet packages followed by the path to the project's output assembly. This command is used to stop the debuggee program that's running inside of the container (when necessary). The program launched when starting debugging. For .NET Core apps, this setting is typically dotnet. The directory used as the starting directory when starting debugging. This setting is typically /app for Linux containers, or C:\app for Windows containers.

Customize the app startup process

You can run a command or custom script before launching your app by using the entrypoint setting, and making it dependent on the configuration. For example, if you need to set up a certificate only in Debug mode by running update-ca-certificates, but not in Release mode, you could add the following code only in docker-compose.vs.debug.yml:

    entrypoint: "sh -c 'update-ca-certificates && tail -f /dev/null'"

If you omit the docker-compose.vs.release.yml or docker-compose.vs.debug.yml then Visual Studio generates one based on default settings.

Next steps

For information on MSBuild properties generally, see MSBuild Properties.

See also

Container Tools build properties

Container Tools launch settings

MSBuild reserved and well-known properties