How to handle execution timeouts in AWS Step Functions

Step Functions lets you set a timeout on both Task states and the whole execution. By default, an execution can run for a year if TimeoutSeconds is not configured. To a user, the execution would appear as “stuck”. Which is why AWS best practices recommend using timeouts to avoid such scenarios. But once you have configured a timeout for the execution, it’s then important to consider what happens when you experience a timeout.

In this post, let’s explore 3 ways you can handle an execution timeout and use a Lambda function to perform automated remediation (e.g. applying rollbacks).

How to apply the TDD mindset to serverless

Testing is an integral part of software development, and serverless is no different.

Test Driven Development, or TDD, is long regarded as a leading practice in software development. And yet, one of the most misunderstood parts of Test-Driven Development (TDD) is the “Driven” part of the name. It’s not just about “writing tests before you write the code”. If your tests do not inform and drive your API design, then you’re not really doing TDD.

In this post, let’s look at how we can apply the TDD mindset to serverless and use our tests to drive the design of our serverless application.

When to use Step Functions vs. doing it all in a Lambda function

I’m a big fan of Step Functions, but it’s yet another AWS service you must learn and pay for.

It also introduces additional complexities. My application is harder to test; my business logic is split between configuration (ASL) and code; and I have new decision points, such as whether to use Express Workflows or Standard Workflows.

So it’s fair to ask, “Why should we even bother with Step Functions?”. Why not just do everything in code, inside a Lambda function?

Let’s break down the pros and cons and look at the trade-offs of each.

When to use API Gateway vs. Lambda Function URLs

“Lambdalith” is a monolithic approach to building serverless applications where a single Lambda function serves an entire API, instead of having one function per endpoint. It’s an increasingly popular approach and provides portability between Lambda and containers and lets you use familiar web frameworks.

Tools like the AWS Lambda Web Adapter have made this approach more accessible, and it also works well with Lambda Function URLs.

But don’t be too hasty to get rid of API Gateway just yet!

In this post, let’s look at the pros and cons of API Gateway vs. Lambda Function URLs, and let me explain why I still prefer API Gateway.

What’s the best way to migrate Cognito users to a new user pool?

The challenge with a Cognito User Pool migration is that the user password cannot be extracted from Cognito. This is a good thing. It shows that Cognito follows security best practices and does not store user passwords in plain text.

But it makes our lives more difficult during a Cognito User Pool migration.

In this post, let’s consider three approaches for migrating users to a new Cognito User Pool.

How to reprocess Lambda dead-letter queue messages on-demand

Imagine this. You have followed AWS best practices and set up a dead-letter queue (DLQ) or an OnFailure destination for every async Lambda function.

A message arrives in your DLQ. You are alerted right away because you have alarms on all of your DLQs.

You investigate the problem and determine that it was temporary and the message should be re-processed.

But now what?

How to Securely let Frontend Apps to Directly Access AWS services

In this post, let’s discuss a radical idea – if the API layer is not adding any value besides authentication and calling the AWS SDK, then why not just remove it and let the frontend talk to your AWS resources directly? It will be the cheapest way to build a full-stack application, and there are similar precedents in the IoT space already.

It’s not the way that I’d recommend for most of you. But it’s possible to do it safely so that a user can only access his/her data. All you need is a little bit of IAM policy and a Cognito Identity Pool.

How to perform database migration for a live service with no downtime

Performing a database migration while continuing to serve user requests can be challenging. It’s a question that many students have asked during the Production-Ready Serverless [1] workshop. So here’s my tried-and-tested approach to migrating a live service to a new database without downtime. I’m going to use DynamoDB as an example, but it should work …

How to perform database migration for a live service with no downtime Read More »

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