Environment Interpolation

Using rancher up, environment variables from the machine running rancher can be used within the docker-compose.yml and rancher-compose.yml files. This is only supported in rancher commands and not in the Rancher UI.

How to use it

With the docker-compose.yml and rancher-compose.yml files, you can reference the environment variables on your machine. If there are no environment variables on the machine, it will replace the variable with a blank string. Rancher will provide a warning on which environment variables are not set. If using environment variables for image tags, please note that rancher will not strip the : from the image to fetch the latest image. Since the image name, i.e. <imagename>: is an invalid image name, no container will be deployed. It’s up to the user to ensure that all environment variables are present and valid on the machine.


On our machine running rancher, we have an environment variable, IMAGE_TAG=14.04.

# Image tag is set as environment variable
$ env | grep IMAGE
# Run rancher
$ rancher up

Example docker-compose.yml

version: '2'
    tty: true
    image: ubuntu:$IMAGE_TAG
    stdin_open: true

In Rancher, an ubuntu service will be deployed with an ubuntu:14.04 image.

Environment Interpolation Formats

Rancher supports the same formats as docker-compose.

version: '2'
    # unbracketed name
    image: "$IMAGE"

    # bracketed name
    command: "${COMMAND}"

    # array element
    - "${HOST_PORT}:8000"

    # dictionary item value
      mylabel: "${LABEL_VALUE}"

    # unset value - this will expand to "host-"
    hostname: "host-${UNSET_VALUE}"

    # escaped interpolation - this will expand to "${ESCAPED}"
    command: "$${ESCAPED}"