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A convention-driven collection of utilities for AWS CloudFormation & Lambda, implemented as Python Fabric tasks. As an initial proof-of-concept, the elements herein implement a downtime-notifier system for websites; i.e. a Lambda function that periodically opens a HTTP{S} connection to each of a set of websites, and posts to a SNS topic in the event of a failure.

Directory Structure

fab_aws uses the following basic structure:

├── _output                   # Output location for rendered CloudFormation JSON.
│   ├── dn_stack.template
│   └── kms_stack.template
├── cloudformation            # YAML representation of CloudFormation. Each file => 1 CF stack.
│   ├── dn_stack.yaml.jinja
│   └── kms_stack.yaml.jinja
├── cloudformation_config     # Per-stack YAML config to be injected. .local.yaml files are gitignored.
│   ├── dn_stack.local.yaml
│   ├── dn_stack.yaml
│   └── kms_stack.local.yaml
├──                # Contains task definitions. To run: `fab $TASK_NAME`.
├── lambda                    # Root directory for Lambda functions (see 5).
│   └── downtime_notifier/
│   └── other_function1/
│   └── other_function2/
└── requirements.txt          # Dependencies for fab_aws. Installed locally using pip (see 0).

0) Install

  1. Set up a virtualenv (I recommend pyenv-virtualenv, highly):
  • pyenv virtualenv fab_aws
  • pyenv activate fab_aws
  1. Install dependencies:
  • pip install -U -r requirements.txt
  1. From this point forward, the fab command will be available to run the tasks from

1) Configure AWS Credentials

fab_aws uses the boto3 Python AWS SDK. When the Fabric tasks are run, the AWS credentials are inherited from the containing shell. For most AWS users, this probably means that you have one or more AWS profiles configured, and a particular one either enabled or set to the default. As I interact with numerous profiles on a daily basis, I used named profiles to handle this. If you do not have profiles set up, this article in the AWS documentation explains the configuration, as well as the other precedence-based options that exist for authentication.

2) Write CloudFormation in YAML

JSON is awkward to write and read, and among its other deficiencies as a configuration file format, does not allow comments. So write in YAML, and use fab render to convert.

# cloudformation/dn_stack.yaml.jinja
AWSTemplateFormatVersion: "2010-09-09"

Description: A CF stack to implement {{ __name__ }}.

  CommitHash: {{ git['hash'] }}
  CommitDescription: {{ git['message'] }}
  AnyUncommittedChanges?: {{ git['uncommitted'] }}

    Type: String
    Default: {{ dn_stack['schedule_expression'] }}
    Description: How often to invoke the {{ __name__ }} function

    Type: AWS::Events::Rule
      Description: ScheduledRule for the LambdaFunction
      ScheduleExpression: { Ref : ScheduleExpression }
      State: ENABLED
        - Arn: { "Fn::GetAtt": [ LambdaFunction, Arn ] }
          Id: ScheduledRule

  # Other resources
  # ...

    Type: AWS::SNS::Topic
      DisplayName: {{ __name__ }}Topic

    Value: { Ref : NotificationTopic }

3) Render CloudFormation JSON

fab_aws converts CloudFormation YAML from cloudformation/ into JSON, and injects configuration state from cloudformation_config/ along the way. Final output appears at _output/.

# Render all YAML templates to JSON, injecting config, and validate against the CloudFormation API.
# Rendered files can be found in `_output/`.
fab render validate

This is all convention driven, based on filename: configuration from cloudformation_config/dn_stack.yaml is injected into a CloudFormation-YAML template at cloudformation/dn_stack.yaml.jinja, and rendered out as CloudFormation-JSON at _output/dn_stack.template.

Configuration is straightforward:

# cloudformation_config/dn_stack.yaml
description: A function to monitor websites, and alert on unavailability
display_name: Downtime Notifier Bot
schedule_expression: rate(5 minutes)
memory_size: 256
timeout: 180

These values can be accessed within the Jinja templates:

# cloudformation/dn_stack.yaml.jinja
    Type: AWS::Lambda::Function
      Comment: {{ dn_stack['description'] }}
    DependsOn: [ LambdaFunctionExecutionRole ]
            - "\n"
            - - "def handler(event, context):"
              - "    print('This is a no-op; will be overwritten later.')"
      Role: { "Fn::GetAtt": [ LambdaFunctionExecutionRole, Arn ] }
      Timeout: {{ dn_stack['timeout'] }}
      Handler: index.handler
      Runtime: python2.7
      MemorySize: {{ dn_stack['memory_size'] }}


CloudFormation Parameter values to be treated as such during a create_stack/update_stack operation, can be supplied in a parameters: section of the config:

# cloudformation_config/kms_stack.yaml
  PermitDecryptionByRoleArn0: arn:aws:iam::111111111111:role/downtime-notifier-stack-LambdaFunctionExecutionRol-X9BTVOQQA09X

Local CloudFormation Configuration

cloudformation_config/*.local.yaml files are git-ignored. They are merged into the configuration with a higher priority than non-local configuration. This provides an easy way to inject secrets, and keep them out of the repo.

4) Provision AWS Resources

The provision Fabric task will create a CloudFormation stack with the given name, or update the existing stack if that name already exists. It makes sense to render and validate at the same time:

# Render a 'dn_stack' stack template to JSON, and create a CloudFormation stack of that type
# with name 'my-dn-stack'.

fab render validate provision:template_name=$TEMPLATE,stack_name=$STACK_ID

Note that the stack_name must be unique within your current set of CloudFormation stacks, or an update will result.

5) Create and maintain Lambda code

fab_aws specifies a particular directory structure for Lambda functions. Adhering to this structure allows for very convenient code organization, package builds, and deployment to a live Lambda function ARN.

lambda/downtime_notifier                   # Root directory for the function elements.
├── _builds                                # Builds of the `_staging` directory.
│   ├──
│   ├──
├── _staging                               # Staging area used prior to zip packaging.
├── downtime_notifier                      # A Python package for function specific modules.
│   ├──
│   ├──
│   ├──
│   ├──
│   ├──
├──                               # Lambda function entry point.
├── lambda_config                          # Configuration directory for the Lambda function.
│   ├── env.local.yaml                     # gitignored Lambda configuration.
│   └── env.yaml                           # Lambda configuration.
└── requirements.txt                       # Lambda-function specific dependencies to install.
                                           # e.g. downtime_notifier requires `requests`.

Lambda Configuration

The lambda_config directory is a location to place YAML files that can be deserialized by within the Lambda runtime.

Local Lambda Configuration

As above, .local.yaml files in lambda_config are git-ignored.

Decrypting KMS secrets

Configuration keys with an encrypted_ prefix are assumed to be encrypted by KMS. will attempt to decrypt these first. To ensure this is possible, the Lambda role under which this function runs should have the Decrypt:* privilege specified in the key policy.

6) Install the Lambda Dependencies and Run Locally

During development, it is useful to invoke Lambda functions locally, before they are deployed onto AWS. There's a fab task for this:

fab install_reqs:function_name=$FUNCTION
fab invoke:function_name=$FUNCTION

7) Build Deployable Lambda Package

Construct a .zip file of all the elements necessary for the deployed packages:

# Installs dependencies and builds a deployable zip file.
# e.g. ./lambda/dn_stack/_builds/

fab build:function_name=$FUNCTION

8) Deploy Lambda Package

This will update the currently deployed Lambda code to the contents of the latest build.

# Installs the latest built Lambda package to the specified Lambda function ARN.

fab deploy:function_name=$FUNCTION_NAME,arn=$ARN

9) Run Tests



A collection of utilities for AWS CloudFormation & Lambda, implemented as Python Fabric tasks.






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