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bbpd: A User's Guide


bbpd is an http proxy for Amazon's DynamoDB service.

For an overview of what DynamoDB is, please see:

To install bbpd, run the following command:

    go get

bbpd is written in Go, and requires a Go 1.1 or higher toolchain to be installed on your system if you want to build it. If you just want to run it, then use apt-get as described above.

If you want to hack on bbpd, you will need a Go environment. To understand how to use Go code in your environment, please see:

and other documentation on the site.



bbpd requires the configuration file used by its underlying library, GoDynamo. Please see the GoDynamo documentation (available at for documentation regarding this configuration file. You MUST properly configure GoDynamo for bbpd to function correctly.


When installed via go get, bbpd will reside in your $GOPATH/bin directory, and you should make sure that is in your shell's executable search path ($PATH etc), or you may copy the executable to an alternate location.

This package also includes some convenience scripts for managing bbpd as a daemon which you may wish to use or alter.

In the bin/bbpd directory are two shell scripts: bbpd_daemon and bbpd_ctl. Call bbpd_ctl with arguments start stop or status. These scripts assume bbpd has been copied into /usr/bin. These are useful if you want to avoid upstart (they are like old apachectl etc).


The curl utility is used for examples below as it tends to be available for most platforms.

First make sure that bbpd is running:

    curl "http://localhost:12333/Status"

You should see some output. To make this more readable, add the Verbose and Indent options:

    curl -H "X-Bbpd-Verbose: True" -H "X-Bbpd-Indent: True" "http://localhost:12333/Status"

Both of these output modifiers will take effect only if the headers are set, regardless of the header value.

Here is an example using GetItem

    curl -H "X-Bbpd-Verbose: True" -H "X-Bbpd-Indent: True" -X POST -d '{"TableName":"mytable","Key":{"Date":{"N":"20131001"},"UserID":{"N":"1"}}}' "http://localhost:12333/GetItem"

Other endpoints work similarly - you name the endpoint to be called, and provide a JSON serialization of the request you wish to submit. bbpd takes care of adding authorization and other headers for you.

There is also a "compatibility mode" which makes the choice of endpoint a header, as described in the AWS documentation. In this mode, we could call GetItem like:

    curl -H "X-Amz-Target: DynamoDB_20120810.GetItem" -X POST -d '{"TableName":"mytable","Key":{"Date":{"N":"20131001"},"UserID":{"N":"1"}}}' "http://localhost:12333/"

The "/" route is reserved for these "compatibility mode" endpoint.

Other endpoints are accessed similarly. See the AWS documentation for specific request structure.

JSON Documents

Amazon has been augmenting their SDKs with wrappers that allow the caller to coerce their Items (both when writing and reading) to what I will refer to as "basic JSON".

Basic JSON is stripped of the type signifiers ('S','NS', etc) that AWS specifies in their AttributeValue specification (

For example, the AttributeValue

    {"AString":{"S":"this is a string"}}

is translated to this basic JSON:

    {"AString":"this is a string"}

Here are some other examples:



are translated to these basic JSON values:


bbpd now includes support for passing in basic JSON documents in place of Items in the following endpoints:

  • GetItemJSON
  • PutItemJSON
  • BatchGetItemJSON
  • BatchWriteItemJSON

These are not AWS endpoints so they must be called explicitly (there are no X-Amz-Target designations for these, you cannot simply POST your input to the default toplevel route).

They are called as


Note that AWS itself does not support basic JSON - the support is always delivered by a coercion of basic JSON to and from AttrbiuteValue. This coercion is lossy! For example, a B or BS will be coerced to a string type (S, SS) and NULL types will be coerced to BOOL. Use with caution.

This feature is only enabled for Item types, not for Key or other AttributeValue aliases. So for example, BatchWriteItemJSON requests of type DeleteRequest cannot use basic JSON, only PutRequest.

Here is a quick illustration that shows the same PutItem request using both AttributeValues and basic JSON:

    curl -H "X-Amz-Target: DynamoDB_20120810.PutItem" -X POST -d '{"TableName":"test-godynamo-livetest","Item":{"TheHashKey":{"S":"a-hash-key"},"TheRangeKey":{"N":"1"},"num":{"N":"1"},"numlist":{"NS":["1","2","3","-7234234234.234234"]},"stringlist":{"SS":["pk1_a","pk1_b","pk1_c"]}}}' http://localhost:12333/;

    curl -X POST -d '{"TableName":"test-godynamo-livetest","Item":{"TheHashKey":"a-hash-key","TheRangeKey":1,"num":1,"numlist":[1,2,3,9,-7234234234.234234],"stringlist":["pk1_a","pk1_b","pk1_c"]}}' http://localhost:12333/PutItemJSON;

See the tests directory for more examples.


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