CloudFormation Modules

Michael Wittig – 25 Feb 2021

Copying and pasting code or configuration comes with a lot of challenges. Fixing a bug requires you to find all the copies to fix them as well. Adding new features to all the copies becomes difficult if copies diverge. That’s why many programming languages allow us to define functions and classes. In CloudFormation, you want to reuse templates as well. Think about a VPC template, database template, load-balanced Fargate container, and so on. Let me introduce CloudFormation Modules. A new feature to reuse CloudFormation templates.

CloudFormation Modules

CloudFormation Modules are available since November 2020. A module is a plain CloudFormation template (referred to as a fragment in the docs). To use a module, you have to upload it to the CloudFormation Registry. The CloudFormation CLI helps you with this process. You can define the resource type of your module, but you have to follow the schema <Organization>::<Service>::<Name>::MODULE. Modules can be nested up to 3 levels deep.

I created a VPC module that I can use like this:

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---
AWSTemplateFormatVersion: '2010-09-09'
Resources:
Vpc:
Type: 'cloudonaut::VPC::TwoZones::MODULE'
Properties:
ClassB: '42'

With a concise template, I can create a lot of AWS resources. The template for the VPC module looks like this:

---
AWSTemplateFormatVersion: '2010-09-09'
Parameters:
ClassB:
Description: 'Class B of VPC (10.XXX.0.0/16)'
Type: Number
Default: 0
ConstraintDescription: 'Must be in the range [0-255]'
MinValue: 0
MaxValue: 255
Resources:
Vpc:
Type: 'AWS::EC2::VPC'
Properties:
CidrBlock: !Sub '10.${ClassB}.0.0/16'
EnableDnsSupport: true
EnableDnsHostnames: true
InstanceTenancy: default
InternetGateway:
Type: 'AWS::EC2::InternetGateway'
Properties: {}
VpcGatewayAttachment:
Type: 'AWS::EC2::VPCGatewayAttachment'
Properties:
VpcId: !Ref Vpc
InternetGatewayId: !Ref InternetGateway
SubnetAPublic:
DependsOn: [VpcGatewayAttachment]
Type: 'cloudonaut::VPC::Subnet::MODULE'
Properties:
VpcId: !Ref Vpc
VpcCidrBlock: !GetAtt 'Vpc.CidrBlock'
InternetGatewayId: !Ref InternetGateway
Reach: public
AZIndex: '0'
AZChar: A
SubnetIndex: '0'
SubnetCount: 4
SubnetAPrivate:
DependsOn: [VpcGatewayAttachment]
Type: 'cloudonaut::VPC::Subnet::MODULE'
Properties:
# [...]
SubnetBPublic:
# [...]
SubnetBPrivate:
# [...]
Outputs:
Id:
Value: !Ref Vpc
CidrBlock:
Value: !GetAtt 'Vpc.CidrBlock'
InternetGatewayId:
Value: !Ref InternetGateway

The VPC module includes the subnet module, which demonstrates nested modules.

Unfortunately, there are a ton of limitations. I was struggling to create something useful with CloudFormation Modules. Learn from my experience in the following video.

Source Code: cloudformation-modules.zip

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Michael Wittig

Michael Wittig

I launched cloudonaut.io in 2015 with my brother Andreas. Since then, we have published hundreds of articles, podcast episodes, and videos. It’s all free and means a lot of work in our spare time. We enjoy sharing our AWS knowledge with you.
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