A human-friendly way of managing parameters in AWS SSM
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Latest commit 3bc3f8c Aug 22, 2018



AWS SSM Parameter Store is a really convenient, AWS-native, KMS-enabled storage for parameters and secrets.

Unfortunately, as of now, it doesn't seem to provide any human-friendly ways of batch-managing hierarchies of parameters.

The goal of the ssm-diff tool is to simplify that process by unwraping path-style (/Dev/DBServer/MySQL/db-string13 = value) parameters into a YAML structure:

      db-string13: value

Then, given that this local YAML representation of the SSM Parameter Store state was edited, calculating and applying diffs on the parameters.

ssm-diff supports complex data types as values and can operate within single or multiple prefixes.


pip install ssm-diff

Geting Started

The tool relies on native AWS SDK, thus, on a way SDK figures out an effective AWS configuration. You might want to configure it explicitly, setting AWS_DEFAULT_REGION, or AWS_PROFILE, before doing and manipulations on parameters

When AWS_PROFILE environment variable is set, local state file will have a name corresponding to the profile name.

Before we start editing the local representation of parameters state, we have to get it from SMM:

$ ssm-diff init

will create a local parameters.yml (or <AWS_PROFILE>.yml if AWS_PROFILE is in use) file that stores a YAML representation of the SSM Parameter Store state.

Once you accomplish editing this file, adding, modifying or deleting parameters, run:

$ ssm-diff plan

Which will show you the diff between this local representation and an SSM Parameter Store.


$ ssm-diff apply

will actually apply local changes to the Parameter Store.

Operations can also be limited to a particular prefix(es):

$ ssm-diff -p /dev -p /qa/ci {init,plan,apply}

NOTE: when remote state diverges for some reason, but you still want to preserve remote changes, there's a:

$ ssm-diff pull

command, doing just that.


Let's assume we have the following parameters set in SSM Parameter Store:

/qa/ci/api/db_schema    = foo_ci
/qa/ci/api/db_user      = bar_ci
/qa/ci/api/db_password  = baz_ci
/qa/uat/api/db_schema   = foo_uat
/qa/uat/api/db_user     = bar_uat
/qa/uat/api/db_password = baz_uat

$ ssm-diff init

will create a parameters.yml file with the following content:

      db_schema: foo_ci
      db_user: bar_ci
      db_password: !secure 'baz_ci'
      db_schema: foo_uat
      db_user: bar_uat
      db_password: !secure 'baz_uat'

KMS-encrypted (SecureString) and String type values are distunguished by !secure YAML tag.

Let's drop the ci-related stuff completely, and edit uat parameters a bit, ending up with the following parameters.yml file contents:

      db_schema: foo_uat
      db_charset: utf8mb4 
      db_user: bar_changed
      db_password: !secure 'baz_changed'


$ ssm-diff plan

will give the following output:

- /qa/ci/api/db_schema
- /qa/ci/api/db_user
- /qa/ci/api/db_password
+ /qa/uat/api/db_charset = utf8mb4
~ /qa/uat/api/db_user:
  < bar_uat
  > bar_changed
~ /qa/uat/api/db_password:
  < baz_uat
  > baz_changed


$ ssm-diff apply

will actually do all the necessary modifications of parameters in SSM Parameter Store itself, applying local changes

Known issues and limitations

  • There's currently no option to use different KMS keys for SecureString values encryption.