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Docker Quicktip #7: docker ps --format

It's been awhile since I did a quick Docker tip, so I figured I should go ahead and share one that I know many people will get use out of.

docker ps is a command that absolutely every Docker user uses. When you type it in you probably, invariably, stretch out your terminal to fit all the super important information that the command has.

$ docker ps
CONTAINER ID        IMAGE                          COMMAND                  CREATED             STATUS              PORTS                                       NAMES
9112d2b6aa30        cpuguy83/configs:hipache       "/usr/local/bin/hipac"   4 months ago        Up 3 days           0.0.0.0:80->80/tcp, 0.0.0.0:443->443/tcp    prod_hipache_1
849694c39d5b        redis                          "/entrypoint.sh redis"   4 months ago        Up 3 days           6379/tcp                                    prod_hipacheredis_1
a8c4a95147f7        cpuguy83/blog                  "nginx"                  4 months ago        Up 3 days           80/tcp                                      prod_blogwww_1

This information is all indeed nice to have, but probably not all of it all the time. Also probably different people want to see different information. This is why docker ps --format ... was introduced.

Now, you might think "I've seen this, I don't need to see more"... and you might be right, however stick around and you'll probably find something you didn't know about that will blow your mind.

For those not in the know, many Docker commands use a --format flag which takes a go-template to customize the output of the command. docker inspect has had this formatting forever... docker ps gained this capability in docker 1.8. A quick example:

$ docker ps --format '{{.Names}}\t{{.Image}}'

prod_hipache_1  cpuguy83/configs:hipache
prod_hipacheredis_1 redis
prod_blogwww_1  cpuguy83/blog

Not very pretty, but at least it's more awk/greppable. To make it pretty, we can add table to the beginning of the template.

$ docker ps --format 'table {{.Names}}\t{{.Image}}'

NAMES                   IMAGE
prod_hipache_1          cpuguy83/configs:hipache
prod_hipacheredis_1     redis
prod_blogwww_1          cpuguy83/blog

So that's nice... but what if I told you that you can set a default format so you don't have to type the same thing in every time, nor have to constantly resize your terminal, while still being able to override the format from the CLI?

By default, Docker looks for a config file in ~/.docker/config.json. It stores some settings here, like auth credentials (which in Docker 1.11 you will be able to move auth creds elsewhere... more on that in a later post). It can also store a custom format for docker ps.

If you've typed docker login before you should have this config file there and populated with a json hash, we can just add the docker ps format configuration as a top-level item in the hash... here's the configuration that I use:

{
  "psFormat": "table {{.Names}}\\t{{.Image}}\\t{{.RunningFor}} ago\\t{{.Status}}\\t{{.Command}}"
}

Which looks like this:

$ docker ps
NAMES                   IMAGE                          CREATED             STATUS              COMMAND
prod_hipache_1          cpuguy83/configs:hipache       4 months ago        Up 3 days           "/usr/local/bin/hipac"
prod_hipacheredis_1     redis                          4 months ago        Up 3 days           "/entrypoint.sh redis"
prod_blogwww_1          cpuguy83/blog                  4 months ago        Up 3 days           "nginx"

You can also do the same for docker images:

{
  "psFormat": "table {{.Names}}\\t{{.Image}}\\t{{.RunningFor}} ago\\t{{.Status}}\\t{{.Command}}",
  "imagesFormat": "table {{.Repository}}\\t{{.Tag}}\\t{{.ID}}\\t{{.Size}}"
}

Read more for more docs on formatting options for different commands.

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