app bake

A containerized build system

14 breaking releases

✓ Uses Rust 2018 edition

new 0.15.0 May 20, 2019
0.13.0 May 19, 2019

#9 in Unix APIs

Download history 34/week @ 2019-04-29 42/week @ 2019-05-06 89/week @ 2019-05-13

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MIT license

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Bake is a containerized build system. You define tasks and their dependencies in a bakefile, and Bake runs them in containers based on a Docker image of your choosing. Bake supports local and remote caching to avoid repeating work.

Running tasks in containers helps with reproducibility. If a Bake task works on your machine, it'll work on your teammate's machine too. You don't have to worry about ensuring everyone has the same versions of all the tools and dependencies.

Welcome to Bake.

Here are two reasons to use Bake on top of vanilla Docker:

  • Bake allows you to define an arbitrary directed acyclic graph (DAG) of tasks and dependencies. You can define tasks for installing dependencies, building the application, running tests, linting, deploying, etc.
  • Bake supports remote caching of tasks. You don't have to manually build and distribute a Docker image with pre-installed tools, libraries, etc. Just define a task which installs those things, and let Bake handle the rest.

On the other hand, here are two reasons not to use Bake:

  • Bake is not suitable for tasks that cannot run in Linux containers (e.g., builds for iOS applications).
  • Bake tasks cannot run a Docker daemon (e.g., to build an image), because containers don't nest well.

Bake has no knowledge of specific programming languages or frameworks. You can use Bake with another tool like Bazel or Buck to perform language-specific build tasks.


A simple task

Let's create a simple bakefile. Create a file named bake.yml with the following contents:

image: ubuntu
    command: echo 'Hello, World!'

Now run bake. You should see the following:

A simple task.

If you run it again, Bake will find that nothing has changed and skip the task:


Bake caches tasks to save you time. For example, you don't want to reinstall your dependencies every time you run your tests. However, caching may not be appropriate for some tasks, like deploying your application. You can disable caching for a specific task and all tasks that depend on it with the cache option:

image: ubuntu
    cache: false
    command: echo 'Hello, World!'

Adding a dependency

Let's make the greeting more fun with a program called figlet. We'll add a task to install figlet, and we'll change the greet task to depend on it:

image: ubuntu
    command: |
      apt-get update
      apt-get install --yes figlet

      - install_figlet
    command: figlet 'Hello, World!'

Run bake to see a marvelous greeting:

Adding a dependency.

Using files from the host

Here's a more realistic example. Suppose you want to compile and run a simple C program. Create a file called main.c:

#include <stdio.h>

int main(void) {
  printf("Hello, World!\n");

Update bake.yml to compile and run the program:

image: ubuntu
    command: |
      apt-get update
      apt-get install --yes gcc

      - install_gcc
      - main.c
    command: gcc main.c

      - build
    command: ./a.out

Notice the input_paths array in the build task. Here we are copying a single file into the container, but we could instead copy the entire working directory with .. By default, the files will be copied into a directory called /scratch in the container. The commands will be run in that directory as well.

Now if you run bake, you'll see this:

Adding files from the host.

Exporting files from the container

A common use case for Bake is to build a project. Naturally, you might wonder how to access the build artifacts produced inside the container. It's easy to do with output_paths:

image: ubuntu
    command: |
      apt-get update
      apt-get install --yes gcc

      - install_gcc
      - main.c
      - a.out
    command: gcc main.c

When Bake runs the build task, it will copy the a.out file to the host.

Exporting files from the container.

Passing arguments to a task

Sometimes it's useful for tasks to take arguments. For example, a deploy task might want to know whether you want to deploy to the staging or production cluster. To do this, add an environment section to your task:

image: ubuntu
    cache: false
      CLUSTER: staging # Deploy to staging by default
    command: echo "Deploying to $CLUSTER..."

When you run this task, Bake will read the value from the environment:

Passing arguments to a task.

If the variable does not exist in the environment, Bake will use the default value:

Using argument defaults.

If you don't want to have a default, set it to null:

image: ubuntu
    cache: false
      CLUSTER: null # No default provided
    command: echo "Deploying to $CLUSTER..."

Now if you run bake deploy without specifying a CLUSTER, Bake will complain about the missing variable and refuse to run the task.

Running a server and watching the filesystem

Bake can be used for more than just building a project. Suppose you're developing a website. You can define a Bake task to run your web server! Create a file called index.html with the following contents:

<!DOCTYPE html>
    <title>Welcome to Bake!</title>
    <p>Hello, World!</p>

We can use a web server like nginx. The official nginx Docker image will do, but you could also use a more general image and define a Bake task to install nginx.

In our bake.yml file, we'll use the ports field to make the website accessible outside the container. We'll also set the watch flag to enable filesystem watching.

image: nginx
    cache: false # It doesn't make sense to cache this task.
    watch: true # Synchronize changes to `index.html`.
      - index.html
      - 3000:80 # Expose port 80 in the container as port 3000 on the host.
    location: /usr/share/nginx/html/ # Nginx will serve the files in here.
    command: nginx -g 'daemon off;' # Run in foreground mode.

Now you can use Bake to run the server:

Running a server.

Dropping into a shell

If you run Bake with --shell, Bake will drop you into an interactive shell inside the container when the requested tasks are finished. Suppose you have the following bakefile:

image: ubuntu
    command: |
      apt-get update
      apt-get install --yes figlet

Now you can run bake --shell to play with figlet.

Dropping into a shell.

When you're done, the container is deleted automatically.

How Bake works

Given a set of tasks to run, Bake computes a topological sort of the dependency DAG to determine in what order to run the tasks. Because Docker doesn't support combining two arbitrary images into one (for good reasons), Bake does not run tasks in parallel and must instead use a sequential execution schedule. You are free to use parallelism within individual tasks, of course.

The topological sort of an arbitrary DAG is not necessarily unique. Bake uses depth-first search, traversing children in lexicographical order. This algorithm is deterministic and invariant to the order in which tasks and dependencies are listed, so reordering will not invalidate the cache. Furthermore, bake foo bar and bake bar foo are guaranteed to produce identical schedules.

Bake builds a Docker image for each task and uses it for the next task in the schedule. Each image is tagged with a cache key that incorporates the shell command, the contents of the files copied into the container, and other inputs. If local caching is enabled, these Docker images remain on disk for subsequent executions. If remote caching is enabled, the images will be synchronized with a remote Docker registry.

If a task is marked as non-cacheable, the Docker images for that task and any subsequent tasks in the schedule will not be persisted or uploaded.


A bakefile is a YAML file (typically named bake.yml) that defines tasks and their dependencies. The schema contains three top-level keys:

image: <Docker image name>
default: <name of default task to run (default behavior: run all tasks)>
tasks: <map from task name to task>

Tasks have the following schema and defaults:

dependencies: []   # Names of dependencies
cache: true        # Whether a task can be cached
environment: {}    # Map from environment variable to optional default
watch: false       # Whether to sync input files from the host to the container
input_paths: []    # Paths to copy into the container
output_paths: []   # Paths to copy out of the container
ports: []          # Port mappings to publish
location: /scratch # Path in the container for running this task
user: root         # Name of the user in the container for running this task
command: null      # Shell command to run in the container

The bakefile for Bake itself is a comprehensive real-world example.

Cache configuration

Bake supports local and remote caching. By default, only local caching is enabled. Remote caching requires that the Docker Engine is logged into a Docker registry (e.g., via docker login).

The caching behavior can be customized with a configuration file. The default location of the configuration file depends on the operating system:

  • For macOS, the default location is ~/Library/Preferences/bake/bake.yml.
  • For other platforms, Bake follows the XDG Base Directory Specification. The default location is ~/.config/bake/bake.yml unless overridden by the XDG_CONFIG_HOME environment variable.

The configuration file has the following schema and defaults:

docker_repo: bake         # Docker repository
read_local_cache: true    # Whether Bake should read from local cache
write_local_cache: true   # Whether Bake should write to local cache
read_remote_cache: false  # Whether Bake should read from remote cache
write_remote_cache: false # Whether Bake should write to remote cache

Each of these options can be overridden via command-line options (see below).

A typical configuration for a continuous integration (CI) environment will enable all forms of caching, whereas for local development you may want to set write_remote_cache: false to avoid waiting for remote cache writes. See .travis.yml for a complete example of how to use Bake in a CI environment.

Command-line options

By default, Bake looks for a bakefile called bake.yml in the working directory, then in the parent directory, and so on. Any paths in the bakefile are relative to where the bakefile lives, not the working directory. This means you can run Bake from anywhere in your project and get the same results.

Run bake with no arguments to execute the default task, or all the tasks if the bakefile doesn't define a default. You can also execute specific tasks and their dependencies:

bake task1 task2 task3…

Here are all the supported command-line options:

    bake [OPTIONS] [TASKS]...

    -c, --config-file <PATH>
            Sets the path of the config file

    -f, --file <PATH>
            Sets the path to the bakefile

    -h, --help
            Prints help information

        --read-local-cache <BOOL>
            Sets whether local cache reading is enabled

        --read-remote-cache <BOOL>
            Sets whether remote cache reading is enabled

    -r, --repo <REPO>
            Sets the Docker repository

    -s, --shell
            Drops you into a shell after the tasks are finished

    -v, --version
            Prints version information

        --write-local-cache <BOOL>
            Sets whether local cache writing is enabled

        --write-remote-cache <BOOL>
            Sets whether remote cache writing is enabled


Easy installation

If you are running macOS or a GNU-based Linux on an x86-64 CPU, you can install Bake with this command:

curl -LSfs | sh

The same command can be used again to update Bake to the latest version.

NOTE: Piping curl to sh is dangerous since the server might be compromised. If you're concerned about this, you can download the installation script and inspect it or choose one of the other installation methods.

Customizing the installation

The installation script supports the following environment variables:

  • VERSION=x.y.z (defaults to the latest version)
  • PREFIX=/path/to/install (defaults to /usr/local/bin)

For example, the following will install Bake into the working directory:

curl -LSfs | PREFIX=. sh

Manual installation

The releases page has precompiled binaries for macOS or Linux systems running on an x86-64 CPU. You can download one of them and place it in a directory listed in your PATH.

Installation with Cargo

If you have Cargo, you can install Bake as follows:

cargo install bake

You can run that command with --force to update an existing installation.


  • Bake requires Docker Engine 17.03.0 or later.
  • Only Linux-based Docker images are supported. Bake can run on any platform capable of running such images, e.g., macOS with Docker Desktop.


The inspiration for Bake came from a similar tool used at Airbnb for CI jobs.


~159K SLoC