Hot Module Reloading with Next.js Docker development environment in 4 steps

Build and configure a Next.js Docker environment for development and production use.

This post will go through how to add hot module reloading to Next.js running a docker environment. This is critical to development for your Next.js application because you want the app to reload your webpage as you change files in application’s folder. When we are finished, any changes that you make to your React codebase will automatically be reloaded and you should see the changes show up in your development environment within 1 second of the change.

Video of what we are doing:

Step 1: Create a Dockerfile for your Next.js application.

We’ve previously built a Dockerfile for our Next.js application in a previous blog post, but if you are trying to dockerize your application for the first time, you need to create a Dockerfile.

FROM node:10.16.0

RUN mkdir /app

COPY package*.json ./
RUN npm install

CMD [ "npm", "run", "dev" ]

The idea here is to start with a base ubuntu image and copy the package.json and package-lock.json files into the directory and running an npm install command.

Step 2: Add a volume mount between your host and docker environment.

We are using docker-compose to create a volume mount between the /app directory and our actual working directory on our native operating system (/frontend). The service block for this application looks like this- where frontend is the directory that our Next.js application lives in.

    container_name: frontend
      - '3000:3000'
      context: frontend
      dockerfile: Dockerfile
      - ./frontend:/app
      - /app/node_modules
      - /app/.next

Step 3: Add docker volumes for your node_modules and .next folders.

As we allude to in Step 2, we also need to add docker volumes for the node_modules and .next folders so that docker will use the docker folders instead of the host OS folders.

Step 4: Modify our webpack middleware for our Next.js app.

In the frontend/next.config.js file, we need to give the webpack middleware, instructions for when to reload itself. If your app does not have a next.config.js file, you can simply add the following code:

module.exports = {
  webpackDevMiddleware: config => {
    config.watchOptions = {
      poll: 1000,
      aggregateTimeout: 300,
    return config

For our previous project, we don’t need to create an entire new object to export, we can instead just add the webpackDevMiddleware block to our already existing configuration object:

const withCSS = require('@zeit/next-css')

module.exports = withCSS({
  target: 'serverless',
  env: {
    BACKEND_URL: process.env.BACKEND_URL,
  webpackDevMiddleware: config => {
    config.watchOptions = {
      poll: 1000,
      aggregateTimeout: 300,
    return config

That should be it- you should now see that as you update your react components from within Next.js, that they instantly show up as changed in your web browser without having to run a docker-compose down followed by docker-compose up.

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