Introduction to Stackery

Stackery is a serverless operations console for managing production serverless applications. It consists of a web-based operations dashboard and a command line (CLI) tool. These tools are used to manage production serverless applications throughout their lifecycle. In this introduction we’ll get familiar with common terms and concepts and learn how to get started building and managing distributed serverless applications using using Stackery.

Example Stack Architecture

Terminology

A Stack is a collection of cloud resources that compose a logical application, for example a Rest Api backend or a data processing pipeline. A stack’s architecture definition is stored in a stack.json file in the stack’s git repository within your GitHub or AWS CodeCommit account. Modifications to stack architecture, for example the provisioning of a new Lambda function or database, are done through Stackery’s Web UI or by modifying the stack.json file directly. New stack versions are deployed to one or multiple environments within your AWS account using Stackery’s deployment functionality.

A Node is a resource within a Stack. Nodes are shown as boxes in Stackery’s Web UI. Nodes come in a variety of types which represent various cloud provider resources such as AWS Lambda functions, API Gateway endpoints, Datastores (e.g. S3, Redis, MySQL, Postgres, DynamoDB), Network Infrastructure (e.g. Virtual Networks, CDNs, Load Balancers), and Docker Clusters. Some Node types have input and output Ports which are used in combination with Wires to subscribe to and publish events. A full list of Node types can be found in the Stackery API Reference.

A Wire is a connection between two nodes and is represented by a line between Nodes in Stackery’s Web UI. Wires are used to subscribe one Node to an event stream emitted by another Node. For example a Function node’s input is commonly connected to a Rest Api node’s output, which subscribes an AWS Lambda function to API Gateway HTTP events. This pattern can be used to subscribe Lambda functions to a wide variety of event sources such as S3, DynamoDB, API Gateway, Kinesis streams, cron timers, other Lambda functions, and unhandled exceptions.

Environments provide a mechanism to store environment specific configuration values such as database passwords, API keys, or application configuration. It’s typical to have a set of environments such as production, staging, and development. In some cases it’s useful to create individual development environments for each engineer. During the deployment process the stack is configured to inject the appropriate environment configuration into your stack components. Function nodes can access environment configuration through an explict mapping of environment config values to runtime environment variables. Environment configuration values can also be used to control settings for other node types, for example the EC2 instance size of a Database node or the custom domain name to use for a Rest Api node. The deployment history for each environment can be seen in the operations dashboard UI.

Development Workflow

Once your stackery account is setup you’ll be able to use Stackery to develop and manage serverless applications throughout their lifecycle. The typical lifecycle of a stackery stack consists of these steps.

  • Create Stack - Initializes a git repository which will contain the infrastructure-as-code definition and Function node code for your application. You’ll generally want to check out a local copy of this git repo to edit function code or modify stack.json directly in your favorite IDE or text editor tool.
  • Edit Stack - Infrastructure changes such as defining new nodes and wires can be staged and commited to git via the web UI. Function node code changes are generally made locally and git pushed to the remote using normal git tooling and workflows.
  • Deploy Stack - Stacks can be deployed via the web UI or the CLI deploy command. Deploying a stack will package function dependencies, setup environment configuration values, and generate a CloudFormation change set. It is possible to inspect the generated CloudFormation template before executing it in your AWS account.
  • Deployed Stack Operations - Stackery provides configuration and tooling that provides access to logs, errors, performance metrics, and tracing data for running apps. In addition the Errors node provides a convenient way to intercept all Function exceptions to trigger notifications or forward to a third party error tracking service.

What’s Next?

Checkout our Guides section for tutorials on building stacks using Stackery.

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