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An Intro to AWS CodeStar, The Most Important AWS service you never heard of

Updated: Aug 14, 2023


AWS CodeStar project start screen


In this article, we will learn about AWS CodeStar - arguably one of the most important aws cloud developer tools that most Cloud DevOps engineers are not even familiar with.


We will get started with some example AWS CodeStar code & architecture patterns.


We will provide links to examples throughout the article.


Let's begin!



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What is AWS CodeStar?


Think of CodeStar as a wrapper service to bootstrap a cloud project with all the required, 100% AWS Native, CI/CD & Build/Dev Tools in the click of a button.


It's Magic





Why start with AWS CodeStar?


puts it all together for you the right way

CodeStar integrates all the AWS CI/CD plumbing services such as CodeCommit, CodeBuild, CodePipeline, CodeDeploy, & CloudFormation, and ties it all together with the ancillary, behind the scenes services & integration points such as, the proper toolchain and deployer cloudformation IAM roles, permission boundaries, & S3 build artifact pipeline bucket, and puts it all together for you the right way, the aws recommended well architected way, using easy / quick start examples of the top frameworks and architecture patterns,





  • It's worth your time to see it at least once to validate that how you setup your stuff is correct.


  • It saves a ton of time.


  • It can be extended & automated to bootstrap your own custom patterns using aws codestar cli commands. (more examples to come on that)


  • It can be integrated with Jira.


  • It has additional collab features to invite users to the project, and much more integrations. For a full list, check out documentation here:






My favorite AWS CodeStar starter kits:


Below you will find github repo links to my most popular aws code blueprints

  • 3 serverless lambda patterns &

  • 1 server beanstalk based pattern


Note: all the code that is found in the github code repos below are provided for your convenience in case you want to see what the code looks like before spinning up the codestar projects yourself. When you proceed to Create Project with CodeStar in your own AWS account, codestar will put all the code in your repo location of choice automatically for you.



Web API Implementation using ServerLess MicroService pattern:


AWS API GateWay to > AWS Lambda in Lambda Proxy configuration





Python Lambda Example:


NodeJS Lambda Example:


Java Lambda Example:





Web APP Implementation using BeanStalk pattern:


AWS BeanStalk using managed PHP Runtime and managed EC2


PHP BeanStalk Example:





What does CodeStar look like? Where to begin?


Ok, now that we have the tool and the know-how, we will start, and bootstrap the Lambda Proxy example blueprint project and discuss a lil further.


Let's start by browsing to CodeStar in the AWS Console or clicking on the following link:






Click Create Project






Notice how many beautiful examples:



In the drop down menu, choose my favorite options, lambda & web service:



Then click outside the options menu, and notice what we have; 3 example web services based on AWS API Gateway and Lambda Proxy mode written in the following languages:

  • Python

  • NodeJS

  • Java





We'll choose Python and click next to enter in our project details:




* Notice how CodeStar provides you 2 repo options - CodeCommit or GitHub.com

Should you choose GitHub, FYI, CodeStar makes it super easy to create the OAuth connection and will hook up your CodePipeline to GitHub in a couple of clicks, including support for GitHub Enterprise (and BitBucket via cli) !



After your project is provisioned, you will see the main project Overview screen and additional tabs for each of the codestar components integrated with the project:





Click on Pipeline tab to see how CodeStar has hooked up your AWS CodePipeline!!






All your projects will be organized nicely in the CodeStar Projects page:







You can also checkout my favorite way of deploying PHP using BeanStalk CodeStar template:






If CodeStar is so good, why doesn't AWS advertise AWS CodeStar more then?


TBH, this one is a mystery to me.


Most of the AWS Cloud experienced engineers & architects i have met since aws codestar was released, have never heard of the service sadly.


Many of them then either start using each of the individual CI/CD tools separately and set it up the wrong way, or pivot and go outside of AWS native CI/CD tools to tools like Jenkins, GitHub Actions, GitLab, Travis, CircleCI, etc

it's no wonder why ...cause setting up all the AWS build tools seperatly is hard and complicated, and without a tool like AWS CodeStar, it is very difficult to know how everything fits together.


Additionally, I have heard from AWS that they are looking to depreciate AWS CodeStar in favor of a newer version of the tool that will possibly be renamed to "AWS Code".

I had the opportunity to see a beta of the product and provide feedback and at the time it was still missing some critical enterprise level features. Will be curious to see what comes next.




Summary:


In this intro to CodeStar, we covered standing up a full serverless Well Architected stack using 100% native AWS CI/CD & IaC. We used the following services:

  • AWS CodeStar: project bootstrapper

  • AWS CodePipeline:

  • AWS CodeCommit

  • AWS CodeDeploy

  • AWS CloudFormation

  • AWS Cloud9

  • AWS IAM

  • AWS Lambda

  • AWS API Gateway

We learned about some of the advantages of AWS CodeStar and how to get started.


Next, check out:



And for further reading and continued deep dive, please read the topics in the full series:





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