Serverless Picks of the Week
Issue #76: New AWS Heroes!

Serverless Superhero

Our serverless superhero this week is Alex Kates, director of engineering at Croissant and AWS Community Builder. Alex is a great writer, most recently throwing his hat into the ring on the TypeScript vs JavaScript debate. He has also built a really cool AI-powered fitness app called FitGPT where you can get custom workouts and meal plans. Thank you, Alex, for your contributions to the community!


Everybody and their grandma knows what generative AI is these days. But few people know how to build an app with it. Ken Collins released two-part series on building a RAG app with Lambda that helps shed some light on the topic. He explains all the pieces in a fun, easy-to-understand way that really hits home for a lot of developers. It’s incredibly helpful if you’ve been wanting to build a chat app with custom data.

I have been continuing to build my fitness app in my free time but recently ran into a problem. I use OpenAI to generate workouts and I went over my spending limit in the first half of last month. So I decided to put subscriptions in the app to cover the cost of OpenAI every month. Turns out subscriptions are hard. There are lots of moving parts to keep in sync. So I wrote about how to process Stripe subscriptions in your serverless apps. This article walks you through the steps and gives examples of how I did it along the way.

It’s really nice to see how easy Ampt is making cloud development. Last week, Ben Miner posted an article on how he wrote an async csv parser with Ampt without any usage of AWS SDKs. I know it’s running serverless-ly in AWS, but expert knowledge of the SDK wasn’t necessary to build this functionality. Super cool!

Interesting Reads

Step Function standard workflows are priced very differently than express workflows. They also have a lot of different constraints. This can make it difficult to choose which one to use for a given business process. But what if you could use both? Yan Cui talks about how you can nest an Express state machine inside of a standard workflow to optimize performance and cost. Pro-tip: if you do this, there are some hidden permissions you need to add for it to work properly.

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We got a reminder of some what not to do’s from Marko last week in his article on 9 ways to lose data using serverless without knowing it. He goes through several gotchas when building inside of AWS that some of us may or may not know. It’s cool to see all these thoughts in one place, they cover a wide breadth of anti-patterns and best practices.

New Releases

AWS Step Functions released better error handling, allowing you to add jitter when retrying, set a maximum limit on retry intervals, and build detailed error messages. Great production-grade enhancement here!

The SAM CLI announced local testing and debugging support on Terraform projects. This means you can use SAM directly on your TF templates, pretty cool!


Arpad Toth is on a roll. He releases high-quality content week after week and works hard to present complex problems in a simple way. Last week, he released part three of his series on Cognito and DynamoDB, where he teaches us how to use a Cognito user id for item-level access control. This is different than the week prior by being simpler and more on track with AWS recommendations. Thank you Arpad for all of your hard work in this area!

Tip of the Week

I thought we were past the dilution of the word serverless and people started converging once again on a normalized definition of the word. Apparently not so much according to a post from Towards AWS last week.

Last Words

Congratulations to the new AWS Heroes! AWS introduced 8 new heroes last week from all over the world. I’m so proud of these outstanding individuals and am thrilled they are getting some well deserved recognition.

If you’d like to make a recommendation for the serverless superhero or for an article you found especially useful, send me a message on Twitter, LinkedIn, or email.

Happy Coding!


This Week's Sponsor

This issue is brought to you by Lumigo, a troubleshooting and observability platform built for developers to automatically capture and contextualize all of the data needed to troubleshoot microservice issues..

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