Solomon Hykes Docker
Docker founder Solomon Hykes appears on stage at the 2014 TechCrunch Disrupt Europe/London 2014. (Photo by Anthony Harvey/Getty Images for TechCrunch)

Docker Buys Kitematic, Which Simplifies Docker on Mac

Hopes to attract more developers by making it easier to run its container tools on Mac

Docker has added yet another deal to its growing list of acquisitions, and this one couldn’t be a better cultural fit.

Kitematic makes it possible for the Mac world to run, build, and ship Docker containers, something its current product wasn’t capable of doing. Because Mac computers lack the features to run Docker natively, the alternative has been to follow a guide and spend 30 minutes to an hour configuring it to work. This new product reduces time down to minutes and increases ease of use because it does all the setup in an attractive user interface.

Kitematic features a one-click installer, intuitive GUI, and easy discovery and download of public images. Other automated features include mapping ports, mounting drive volumes, modifying environment variables and getting log information.

As a result of the acquisition, Docker expects to attract many more developers to its ecosystem. In addition to providing a solution to run Docker on Mac, it opens up Docker to more programmers and a wider, more general audience.

The three-person Kitematic team is moving and setting up shop in Docker’s San Francisco office and currently looking to hire more talent. The team will continue to develop open source products, including bringing that magic to another major platform.

“We’re acquiring it to increase the size of community,” said Justen Stepka, director of product management at Docker. “One of the reasons we’re really excited is it’s easy to publish the platform over Windows. Windows distribution as well as Mac will really open up the platform.”

Kitematic is one of those cool tech stories. The trio met as seniors at the University of Waterloo and decided to develop an extremely fast and easy way to run Docker on Macs. Hacker News picked up the alpha version of Kitematic, which raised its profile. Then, Kitemagic saw 2,600 stars on Github in less than six months, with the number of downloads reaching more than 10,000. The attention from the community landed it on Docker’s radar quickly, said Stepka. The Kitemagic team flew down to California and the rest will be history.

Docker continues to acquire in strategic areas that extend the project and bench with talent. Stepka broke down the rationale for each acquisition so far:

  • The company acquired Orchard Labs to define how to setup containers that can easily move together. Modern apps don’t run inside a single component, and Orchard delivered a Docker orchestration tool, called Compose, with capabilities to manage and monitor containers.
  • The recent SocketPlane acquisition was an extension of Orchard, addressing how to network those containers. It is working on open source software in terms of defining APIs to build and network.
  • Then Koality came along and formed Docker Hub Enterprise.
  • Finally, Kitematic will open up Docker on Mac, making it easily accessible to more developers.

“Anything that increases the overall experience of the platform and improves the Docker community is of great interest,” said Stepka.

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