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AWS CloudFormation is often denigrated for not having logic flows or the ability to do some of the things traditional programming languages can. That is true to an extent. First, if you want to have total control over your CloudFormation templates using an imperative programming language, you can use the Cloud Development Kit.

Second, CloudFormation can be extended through the use of macros. In a previous article, I discussed using the CloudFormation Include macro to include a CloudFormation template inside another. This mimics the import, require commands found in other languages. …

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If you have ever used an imperative programming language like Javascript, C, or Python, then you are familiar with the concept of importing or including other files into your code.

fs = reqire("fs")

#include "<studio.h"

import boto3

This is good as it promotes re-use and prevents “reinventing the wheel”. As a result, you can get your code written faster, deploy it sooner, and provide value to your user community.

CloudFormation cannot natively import another template or template section into the template it is processing. This is where the AWS::Include transformation comes to the rescue.

To see this…

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AWS X-Ray is a method of collecting data about the work going on within a distributed application to identify performance issues and execution errors.

When execution errors happen in obscure cases, X-Ray can help identify those cases by providing a consolidated trace of each execution. This is invaluable in a distributed, event-driven or serverless application.

AWS X-Ray integrates with

  • Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2);
  • Amazon Elastic Container Service (Amazon ECS);
  • Elastic Load Balancing;
  • Amazon API Gateway;
  • AWS Lambda; and,
  • AWS Elastic Beanstalk.

Additionally, the AWS X-Ray SDK can capture metadata and requests to

  • MySQL and PostgreSQL databases (self-hosted, Amazon…

Thanks to my sweetheart for picking another Raspberry Pi off my wish list, I added another Raspberry Pi 4B to my collection. (Okay, I only have two of them. So far.) I was confounded over the last few days when I couldn’t reach the Pi over the network from my iPad. My iPad Pro is my primary computing device, and I use the Pi’s as the server side for research, writing code and experimentation.

I was convinced the problem was the Pi. Everything worked before and was only flaky now there was two of them. The Pi configurations both used…

iOS 12 brought us the Shortcuts app, which was previously known as Workflow until Apple bought the application. Essentially, Shortcuts allows us to automate various aspects of our workflows or repetitive tasks. There are some limitations, which I will come back to later in this article.

The Shortcuts app is almost no-code, meaning you don’t write program code to perform the work. I say almost because you still have to design the logic flow and perform some elements of programming including variable assignments, flow control, etc. However, the drag and drop approach makes design and implementation pretty easy.

Shortcuts, Actions, and Automations

Shortcuts are…

Every year, just in time for re:invent, AWS announces a plethora of upgrades to the services in the AWS ecosphere. This year is no different, even though re:invent will be completely virtual.

For anyone using CloudFormation and nested stacks, one of the major frustrations has been the inability to see what changes are being applied to the nested stacks when doing a stack update. In case you missed it, on November 18, 2020, AWS released a change to CloudFormation allowing users to see the changesets being applied to the nested stacks.

What’s a nested stack you ask?

A nested stack is when one CloudFormation stack has…

I recently had the opportunity to do a little research into AWS Step Functions. What I learned was interesting and sparked some thinking about how I could improve some of my serverless projects by moving to a Step Function. This article discusses what AWS Step Functions are, how they fit into an application architecture, and their benefits.

AWS Step Functions are a “function orchestrator”, allowing you to connect multiple Lambda functions and other AWS services into an application. By moving the logic associated with the application including decisions, retries, parallel tasks, and error handling out of the Lambda functions, we…

Sometimes we are working on a project where we need a data store, but the complexities of Relational Database Service (RDS), DynamoDB, DocumentDB, et al are more than what is needed. This is where Amazon SimpleDB becomes a valuable resource.

SimpleDB is a NoSQL database. NoSQL databases are not new, having been around since the 1960s. The term NoSQL can have several different meanings from non-SQL, referring to the lack of relation support in the database, to Not only SQL meaning the database may support Structured Query Language (SQL) Wikipedia.

AWS has a number of databases to meet the…

The Apple iPhone and iPad have this wonderful Python development environment called Pythonista. If you can import a module using the Pythonista StaSh extension, then you can get working with boto3 in Pythonista.

However, boto3 requires your AWS credentials to be configured either in a shared credentials file, in environment variables, or specified when the boto3 session, resource, or client is created.

Working with Pythonista requires some degree of creativity when dealing with issues like this one. However, there is no reason why you can’t get the same shared credentials file you use on other computing devices onto your iPad…

As part of my Medium article An Overview of Amazon Translate, one of the questions is how good is Amazon Translate? It isn’t possible without a lot of time to check all 55 supported languages, so I am focusing on

  • English to Spanish;
  • Spanish to English;
  • English to French; and,
  • French to English.

I used one of the paragraphs in this article for this text. The paragraph reads:

"Another example is real-time translation for support and help-desk services. Users are not limited by their knowledge of the language your corporation uses. A Spanish speaking user (for example) can type in…

Chris Hare

Chris is the co-author of seven books and author of more than 70 articles and book chapters in technical, management, and information security publications.

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