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README.md

AWS CloudFormation SES Domain Custom Resource

AWS CloudFormation provides several built-in Amazon SES resource types, but oddly omits any way to manage SES domain identities. This package implements a Custom::SES_Domain CloudFormation custom resource that offers that missing functionality.

You can use it to provision a domain for sending and/or receiving email through SES. The Custom::SES_Domain resource handles all required Amazon SES identity management calls and outputs SES's required DNS entries.

The Custom::SES_Domain resource deliberately avoids manipulating Route 53 itself. Instead, it returns an attribute that helps your template use a standard AWS::Route53::RecordSetGroup resource for those DNS entries. Or if you prefer, you can use other Custom::SES_Domain return values to customize DNS records for Route 53, or to use some other DNS provider entirely.

As an added benefit, this approach lets CloudFormation determine the optimal DNS updating strategy if you change your stack (e.g., to add inbound capability to an SES domain originally provisioned for sending only).

Documentation

Installation

The Custom::SES_Domain resource is implemented as an AWS Lambda Function. To use it from your CloudFormation templates, you'll need to set up that function along with an IAM role giving it permission to manage your Amazon SES domains.

The easiest way to do this is with a CloudFormation nested stack:

  1. Copy the aws-cfn-ses-domain-VERSION.lambda.zip Lambda package and aws-cfn-ses-domain-VERSION.cf.yaml CloudFormation template from this repository's releases page into an S3 bucket in the region where you'll be running your CloudFormation stack. This bucket needs to be readable from CloudFormation, but need not be public.

  2. Then in your CloudFormation template, use a nested stack to create the Lambda Function and IAM role for the Custom::SES_Domain type:

  CfnSESDomain:
    Type: AWS::CloudFormation::Stack
    Properties:
      TemplateURL: https://s3.amazonaws.com/YOUR_BUCKET/aws-cfn-ses-domain-VERSION.cf.yaml
      Parameters:
      - LambdaCodeS3Bucket: YOUR_BUCKET
      - LambdaCodeS3Key: aws-cfn-ses-domain-VERSION.lambda.zip

The Custom::SES_Domain resource type is now available to use like this (see Usage below for the full list of properties and return values):

  MySESDomain:
    Type: Custom::SES_Domain
    Properties:
      # ServiceToken must be the Arn of the Lambda Function:
      ServiceToken: !GetAtt CfnSESDomain.Outputs.Arn
      Domain: "example.com"
      # ...

If you'd prefer to build and upload the Custom::SES_Domain code from source, see the Development section.

Usage

To work with a Custom::SES_Domain resource in your CloudFormation template, you'll typically:

  1. Define the AWS Lambda Function that implements the Custom::SES_Domain CloudFormation custom resource type, as shown in Installation above.

  2. Declare a Custom::SES_Domain resource for your Amazon SES domain, specifying whatever SES options you need.

  3. Declare an AWS::Route53::RecordSetGroup resource to manage SES's required DNS entries, passing it the Route53RecordSets attribute of your Custom::SES_Domain. (Or if you're not using Route 53, use the other Custom::SES_Domain return values to create the appropriate records with your DNS provider.)

Here's how that looks in a cloudformation.yaml template…

Resources:
  # 1. Define the Custom::SES_Domain's Lambda Function via a nested stack. 
  CfnSESDomain:
    Type: AWS::CloudFormation::Stack
    Properties:
      TemplateURL: https://s3.amazonaws.com/YOUR_BUCKET/aws-cfn-ses-domain-VERSION.cf.yaml
      Parameters:
      - LambdaCodeS3Bucket: YOUR_BUCKET
      - LambdaCodeS3Key: aws-cfn-ses-domain-VERSION.lambda.zip

  # 2. Declare a Custom::SES_Domain resource for your SES domain.
  MySESDomain:
    Type: Custom::SES_Domain
    Properties:
      # ServiceToken is the Arn of the Lambda Function defined above:
      ServiceToken: !GetAtt CfnSESDomain.Outputs.Arn
      # Remaining Properties are options for provisioning for your SES domain identity:
      # (Domain is required; all others are optional and shown with their defaults)
      Domain: "example.com"
      EnableSend: true
      EnableReceive: false
      MailFromSubdomain: "mail"
      TTL: "1800"
      CustomDMARC: '"v=DMARC1; p=none; pct=100; sp=none; aspf=r;"'
      Region: !Ref "AWS::Region"

  # 3. Declare a Route 53 RecordSetGroup to manage SES's required DNS entries.
  #    (This assumes you already have a Route 53 hosted zone for your domain;
  #    if not, you'll also want an AWS::Route53::HostedZone resource for it.
  #    Or if you don't use Route 53, see "Return Values" for other DNS options.)
  MyRoute53RecordsForSES:
    Type: AWS::Route53::RecordSetGroup
    Properties:
      HostedZoneName: "example.com."
      # The Route53RecordSets attribute specifies all DNS records needed:
      RecordSets: !GetAtt MySESDomain.Route53RecordSets

Properties

A Custom::SES_Domain resource supports the following Properties:

ServiceToken

The ARN of the Lambda Function that implements the Custom::SES_Domain type. See Installation above for a simple way to obtain this. (This is a standard property of all CloudFormation AWS::CloudFormation::CustomResource types.)

Required: Yes

Type: String

Update requires: Updates are not supported

Domain

The domain name you want to provision for sending and/or receiving email via Amazon SES, such as example.com. (A trailing period is not required, but is allowed to simplify working with Route 53 HostedZone names that do require it.)

For more information, see Verifying Domains in Amazon SES in the Amazon SES Developer Guide.

Required: Yes

Type: String

Update requires: Replacement

EnableSend

Whether to enable outbound Amazon SES email from the domain. If true (the default), the resulting DNS records will include SES's required verification token and DKIM entries.

Required: No

Type: Boolean

Default: true

Update requires: No interruption

EnableReceive

Whether to enable inbound Amazon SES email to the domain. If true, the resulting DNS records will include SES's required verification token and inbound MX entry.

Required: No

Type: Boolean

Default: false

Update requires: No interruption

MailFromSubdomain

The subdomain of Domain to use as a custom MAIL FROM domain when sending through Amazon SES. The default is mail (so if your Custom::SES_Domain resource has Domain: example.com, it will by default be provisioned in SES with the custom MAIL FROM domain mail.example.com). The resulting DNS records will include SES's required SPF and feedback MX entries for the MAIL FROM domain.

To disable using a custom MAIL FROM domain (and instead use SES's default amazonses.com), set to an empty string: MailFromSubdomain: ''.

This property is only meaningful when EnableSend is true.

For more information, see Using a Custom MAIL FROM Domain in the Amazon SES Developer Guide.

Required: No

Type: String

Default: 'mail'

Update requires: No interruption

CustomDMARC

A custom DMARC value to include in the resulting DNS entries. The default will enable DMARC for your outbound email in "report only" mode. Note that you must include the double quotes around the entire string (which requires escaping in JSON or wrapping in single quotes in YAML). Example:

    CustomDMARC: '"v=DMARC1; p=reject; pct=100; rua=mailto:postmaster@example.com"'

To disable generating a DMARC record, set to an empty string: CustomDMARC: ''.

This property is only meaningful when EnableSend is true.

For more information, see the DMARC.org Overview.

Required: No

Type: String

Default: '"v=DMARC1; p=none; pct=100; sp=none; aspf=r;"'

Update requires: No interruption

TTL

The time-to-live value to include in resulting DNS records (in seconds).

Required: No

Type: String

Default: '1800'

Update requires: No interruption

Region

The AWS Region to use for determining Amazon SES SMTP endpoints, e.g., "us-east-1". The default is the region where the Custom::SES_Domain resource is being provisioned. (This must be a region where Amazon SES is supported, and it's extremely unlikely you'd want to override this.)

Required: No

Type: String

Default: ${AWS::Region}

Update requires: No interruption

Return Values

Ref

When a Custom::SES_Domain resource is provided to the Ref intrinsic function, Ref returns the Domain (without any trailing period).

Fn::GetAtt

A Custom::SES_Domain resource returns several Fn::GetAtt attributes that can be used with other CloudFormation resources to maintain the required DNS records for your Amazon SES domain.

Route53RecordSets

A List of AWS::Route53::RecordSet objects specifying the DNS records required for the Custom::SES_Domain identity.

This is suitable for use as the RecordSets property of an AWS::Route53::RecordSetGroup resource. E.g.:

  MyRoute53RecordsForSES:
    Type: AWS::Route53::RecordSetGroup
    Properties:
      # HostedZone or HostedZoneName: ...
      RecordSets: !GetAtt MySESDomain.Route53RecordSets

If you update a Custom::SES_Domain resource, the Route53RecordSets attribute will change accordingly, and CloudFormation will figure out the precise updates needed to the Route 53 records.

ZoneFileEntries

A List of String lines that can be used in a standard Zone File to specify the DNS records required for the Custom::SES_Domain identity. The name field in each entry is a fully qualified hostname (ends in a period).

Example:

[
  '_amazonses.example.com.         1800  IN  TXT    "abcde12345"',
  'abcde1._domainkey.example.com.  1800  IN  CNAME  abcde1.dkim.amazonses.com.',
  'fghij2._domainkey.example.com.  1800  IN  CNAME  fghij2.dkim.amazonses.com.',
  'klmno3._domainkey.example.com.  1800  IN  CNAME  klmno3.dkim.amazonses.com.',
  'mail.example.com.               1800  IN  MX     10 feedback-smtp.us-west-1.amazonses.com.',
  'mail.example.com.               1800  IN  TXT    "v=spf1 include:amazonses.com -all"',
  '_dmarc.example.com.             1800  IN  TXT    "v=DMARC1; p=none; pct=100; sp=none; aspf=r;"',
  'example.com.                    1800  IN  MX     10 inbound-smtp.us-west-1.amazonaws.com.'
]

This can be useful if you are working with a DNS provider other than Route 53. For example, to include the zone file entries in your stack's output, use something like:

Outputs:
  ZoneFileEntries:
    Description: Add these lines to the zone file at your DNS provider.
    Value: !Join ["\n", !GetAtt MySESDomain.ZoneFileEntries]
Other attributes

A Custom::SES_Domain resource provides several other SES-related attributes which may be helpful for generating custom DNS records or other purposes:

  • Domain (String): The Domain, without any trailing period.
  • VerificationToken (String): The VerificationToken returned from SES:VerifyDomainIdentity
  • DkimTokens (List of String): The list of DkimTokens returned from SES:VerifyDomainDkim (not available if EnableSend is false)
  • MailFromDomain (String): the custom MAIL FROM domain, e.g., mail.example.com (not available if EnableSend is false or if MailFromSubdomain is empty)
  • MailFromMX (String): the feedback MX host to use with a custom MAIL FROM domain, e.g., feedback-smtp.us-east-1.amazonses.com (not available if EnableSend is false or if MailFromSubdomain is empty)
  • MailFromSPF (String): the SPF record value to use with a custom MAIL FROM domain (including the double quotes), e.g., "v=spf1 include:amazonses.com -all" (not available if EnableSend is false or if MailFromSubdomain is empty)
  • DMARC (String): the DMARC record value to use for outbound mail (including the double quotes), e.g., "v=DMARC1; p=none; pct=100; sp=none; aspf=r;" (not available if EnableSend is false or if CustomDMARC is empty)
  • ReceiveMX (String): the inbound MX host to use for receiving email, e.g., inbound-smtp.us-east-1.amazonaws.com (not available if EnableReceive is false)

Validating Your Templates

If you use cfn-lint (recommended!) to check your CloudFormation templates, you can include an "override spec" so your Custom::SES_Domain properties and attributes will be validated. Download a copy of CustomSESDomainSpecification.json and then:

cfn-lint --override-spec CustomSESDomainSpecification.json YOUR-TEMPLATE.cf.yaml

(Without the override-spec, cfn-lint will allow any properties and values for Custom::SES_Domain resources.)

Development

Development requires GNU Make (standard on most Linux-like systems) and pipenv. (Pipenv is used only to manage the development environment; package requirements are tracked in setup.py.)

To set up your development environment, clone the repository and then run make init. (This just runs pipenv install. If you are a package maintainer who will release to PyPI, use pipenv install --dev instead.)

To see a list of available make targets, run make help.

To package and upload your own version of the Lambda zip package and the CloudFormation templates, run make S3_BUCKET=your_bucket_name upload. If you just want to build locally without uploading to S3, run make S3_BUCKET=your_bucket_name all. You can also include S3_PREFIX=your/s3/prefix or S3_PREFIX= in either of these commands, if desired.

If you are changing code, you will want to run tests (make test) and static code checks (make check) before uploading.

Additional development customization variables are documented near the top of the Makefile.

Alternatives

These packages offer similar functionality (and provided some helpful background for Custom::SES_Domain):

Both of these manage your Route 53 records directly from the Lambda Function (rather than leaving that to other CloudFormation resources), and they may support fewer Amazon SES domain identity options than this package.

Future

The Custom::SES_Domain implementation is currently missing these Amazon SES domain identity features:

  • Control over SNS feedback notifications and forwarding options (SES:SetIdentityNotificationTopic and SES:SetIdentityFeedbackForwardingEnabled)
  • Control over Easy DKIM enabling (SES:SetIdentityDkimEnabled—currently, Custom::SES_Domain assumes if you are enabling sending, you also want Easy DKIM)

Adding them is likely straightforward; contributions are welcome.

Are you from Amazon? It'd be great to have an AWS::SES::Domain resource standard in CloudFormation. Please consider adopting or obsoleting this package. (Just reach out if you'd like me to assign or transfer it.)

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