Al3x' Tech Blog

Setup AWS Lambda-to-Lambda invocations between CDK Stacks

25 Feb 2020

In this brief article I showcase one way to organize AWS resources in CDK Stacks and make them general purpose and easily reusable.

More specifically, it is commonly accepted as a good practice in the FaaS space to keep functions small and ideally single-purposed as much as possible.

In the actual case I’m presenting here I had a very simple Lambda proxy function responsible for accepting HTTP requests proxied by API Gateway originated by a web client (some POST data from an actual HTML Form), validating the request and sending a push notification with the HTML form content to my iPhone using the Pushover notification service.

The initial Lambda code size was so small I didn’t feel the need to split it nor make it more general purpose back in the time when I drafted the code. On top of that, the initial setup has been doing its job properly so far. But… now that api-l3x-in project is slowly but inexorably growing in size and functionalities it has come the time for some simple refactoring.

Let’s split

Here is the initial version of the main Lambda; as you can see at line 86 the entry point handler function is making use of some functionality from the utils library to:

  1. parse the API Gateway event and context payloads
  2. route the request found in the event payload to the router function at line 69

At this point the actual Lambda business logic takes place: if the HTTP request path matches the only implemented one (POST /contact), it executes the contact function at line 30 which constructs a message object that is eventually delivered to Pushover by _send_msg_to_pushover function at line 14.

The Lambda is not even 100 lines long so still easy to understand and reason about but that’s not the point in this case: why not to make the notification service general to make use of it from wherever needed in the api-l3x-in (future) applications?

CDK makes adding this kind of functionality almost too easy and very little code addition is required as you can see in the related commit. If we ignore the Lambda implementation details and focus only on the CDK changes required, it boils down to:

  • for the original api Stack:

    • a lambda_notifications.grant_invoke(api_lambda) line (at #34) that adds proper IAM Invoke permission
    • a new environment parameter (LAMBDA_NOTIFICATIONS) passed to the main api Lambda at line 31 that tells what’s the notification Lambda to be invoked
  • for the new notifications Stack:

    • a new Lambda exposed by the new notifications Stack (self.pushover) that we can pass around to our Stacks whenever needed
  • for the main CDK app:

    • the new Stack declaration and the self.pushover object passing at line 50

This might have been made even more general using something like self.main as a name to completely abstract away the implemented notification service. Another addition might be the introduction of an SNS topic between the Lambda to send notifications in a fan-out fashion for example. As usual, the sky (above the Cloud) is the limit.


The final layout looks like this:

Architecture Diagram


With this simple addition I hope I did manage to show one more time the power of simplicity that CDK brings when managing (both serverless and more traditional kind of) applications based on AWS.

I also take the chance to recommend you a collection of curated resources available at the Awesome CDK repository.

As always I’m eager to know what you think about the pros and cons of developing apps using AWS and Cloud Development Kit and see how you make use of it (or hear if and how you’re planning to). As more and more developers jump on the CDK bandwagon we should see more best practices and common patterns emerge making this kind of tasks even easier.

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