Spin up a basic local Phabricator instance with Docker
From scratch, in about ten minutes (with API query example)

If you want to experiment with Phabricator and/or the Phabricator APIs, it can be convenient to have a local instance to play with.

A relatively simple way to do this is with the following docker-compose.yml, which uses a Bitnami Phabricator Docker image:

1version: '3.0'
3 mariadb:
4 image: 'bitnami/mariadb:latest'
5 environment:
7 volumes:
8 - 'mariadb_data:/bitnami'
9 phabricator:
10 image: 'bitnami/phabricator:latest'
11 ports:
12 - '80:80'
13 - '443:443'
14 volumes:
15 - 'phabricator_data:/bitnami'
16 depends_on:
17 - mariadb
18 environment:
19 - PHABRICATOR_HOST=phabricator.local.com
21 mariadb_data:
22 driver: local
23 phabricator_data:
24 driver: local

( This isn't configured exactly the same as Wikimedia's Phabricator, but it may be close enough for experimentation purposes. A main objective for this example was to keep configuration to a minimum and the total time to roughly 10 minutes. )


  1. Ensure you have Docker and Docker Compose installed
  2. Create a directory called something like phabricator and place a docker-compose.yml in it with the text above ( for some reason 🤷‍♂️ copying the text above is easier if you click through to the paste file P13071 )
  3. In the phabricator directory run the docker-compose up command
  4. Wait a couple minutes for the Docker images specified in the docker-compose.yml file to be fetched and spun up


  1. Apparently Phabricator really wants its URL to have a subdomain, so for this to work locally you can edit your /etc/hosts file (i.e. sudo atom /etc/hosts) adding this line: phabricator.local.com
  2. Now you should be able to load https://phabricator.local.com in a browser to see the login page of your local Phabricator instance
  3. You'll also have to instruct your browser that it's ok we don't have a valid certificate for the local instance:

( tap image below for animation showing how this is done with Firefox )

Logging in

This Bitnami Phabricator image come with the following default account:
Username: user
Password: bitnami1

Making a Project, Workboard and Task

( tap image below for animation )

Generating an API Token

If you want to play with Phabricator APIs from the command line, you'll need a token:

( tap image below for animation )

Typically you'd want to keep such a token private, but since this one is specific to your local Phabricator instance it's not going to be of much use to anyone else.

Querying the API from a terminal window

In the Make first Project / Workboard / Task step above, the first task T1 was created. A fairly basic Phabricator API endpoint, phid.lookup, can be used to retrieve some basic information about this task, such as its phid, status, full name, etc.

It can be called from a new terminal window on the host system using:

  • the url specified above ( http://phabricator.local.com )
  • the endpoint ( /api/phid.lookup )
  • the token created above ( api-yjnnbnmayjqf5z733qix2ebrri5k - yours will be different )
  • the id of the ticket created above ( T1 )

For example, from a new terminal window:

curl http://phabricator.local.com/api/phid.lookup -d "api.token=YOUR_API_TOKEN_HERE" -d "names[0]=T1" | python -m json.tool

Note: | python -m json.tool simply formats the json returned by the endpoint

( tap image below for animation )

Querying the API from endpoint documentation pages

If you use your local instance's URL ( https://phabricator.local.com ) to load the API docs ( https://phabricator.local.com/conduit/ ), as long as you've logged in ( with the user / bitnami1 credentials mentioned above, for example ) you can experiment with calling API endpoints without having to mess with tokens. At the bottom of every API's documentation page there is a form which can be used to enter parameters and call the endpoint:

( tap image below for animation )


Hopefully this is useful if you ever want to mess around with Phabricator in a worry-free manner :)

Written by Mhurd on Thu, Nov 19, 12:35 AM.
"Yellow Medal" token, awarded by zeljkofilipin.

Event Timeline

It was really easy to get Phabricator running on my machine. Gifs with animations are great!