Separating Docker files and application source files to optimize production environment


I have a bunch of (Ruby) scripts stored on a server. Up until now, my team has used them by opening an accessor app that launches a list of the script names, and they select the script they want to run in that instance on the files in their working folder. The scripts are run directly from the server, so updates made to the script files are automatically reflected when a user runs the script.

The scripts require a fair amount of specific dependencies, so I’m trying to move to a Docker-based workflow to eliminate the problems we encounter with incongruent computer environments. I’ve been able to successfully build an image with our script library and run an instance of it on my computer.

However, all of the documentation and tutorials include the application source files when building an image, so that all the files are copied over by the Dockerfile. From my understanding, this means that any time the code in the application files needs to be updated, all the users will need to rebuild the image before trying to run anything. I would very rarely ever need to make changes to the environment settings/dependencies, but the app code is changed relatively frequently, so it seems like having every user rebuild an image every single time a line of app code is changed would actually slow down everyone’s workflow considerably.

My question is this: Is it not possible to have Docker simply create the environment that a user must have to run the applications, but have the applications themselves still run directly off the server where they were originally stored? And does a new container need to be created every single time a user wants to run any one of the scripts? (The users are not tech-savvy.)

I’ve gone through all the documentation for Docker, but still have a hard time understanding how to actually implement Docker in a production environment for people who don’t code.

Any insight is very much appreciated!