Application Composer levels up a lot and adds amazing IDE integration capabilities

In this post we’re going to look at the new functionalities that have been added to Application Composer

In this post we’re going to look at the new functionalities that have been added to Application Composer by re:Invent 2023. After announcing the support of all CloudFormation resources earlier in the year, Application Composer now allows editing StepFunctions within the same user interface and – even cooler – announces the integration of an IDE plugin that allows developers to build serverless functions locally.

Application Composer as a serverless, rapid prototyping service adds additional capabilities to empower developers building serverless applications

Application Composer, that was originally announced last year at re:Invent 2022, has gotten a lot of major improvements thoughout 2023. As we are right at re:Invent 2023, its time to look back on which new capabilities have been added and how they influence building serverless applications using AppComposer.

Supporting all CloudFormation resouces

Already a few weeks ago the team announced that all over 1000 CloudFormation resources are now supported by AppComposer. This really gave a big update and make it simpler to build all kind of serverless applications. However, as this only alled AppComposer to expose the resources, this still requires the developer to know all required connections between the different resources. I personally would love to get more “supported” resources (just like L2 resources in CDK) to be made available as part of AppComposer. I would hope that this will be an additional functionality soon.

Integrating additional services

With the integration of the Stepfunctions Workflow Studio within the same interface, developers can now build and end to end application within composer before using the generated SAM or CDK templates to trigger the deployment. As a next step I think it would be great to also be able to define Eventbridge Rules & Pipes within the same interface.

Local development and IDE integration

AppComposer announced a Visual Studio Code integration that makes it possible to build and design serverless applications right from your IDE!

With this feature, you can visualize your serverless applications without being within your browser or the AWS console – start building, whereever you are and whenever you want!

I have not been able to try out this functionality yet, but especially the integration with sam connect that allows to also directly deploy the changes you made to your picture / template will make a big different in building applications using AppComposer.

Also I think we should not underestimate the possibility that this offers to vizualize existing CloudFormation templates through either the IDE plugin or the AWS Console. This will help to explain big and difficult already existing applications and empowers teams to have a fruitful conversation about changes they would like to implement in existing templates, as have a visualization makes the conversation easier.

What’s next for Application Composer? What are my wishes?

Already last year I have asked to integrate AppComposer in CodeCatalyst and I believe that this would be an awesome possibility to quickly start serverless projects. Application Composer today feels like a playground – to make the service more usable, it needs to have a “deployment” component that allows you to automate the lifecycle of your serverless application (including a full CI/CD pipeline).

I also last year asked for creation of CDK out of Application Composer – or even importing it – but instead of investing into that direction AWS recently announced the existance of the CDK Builder Tool – wouldn’t it be better to merge those initiatives together?

As already mentioned above, supporting additional “CDK-L2-like” patterns – or maybe the “Patterns” from would be amazing – so users do not need to know how to set up IAM roles, connections between API Gateway and Lambda, … manually would make this a much more usable product!

What are your thoughts around the recent announcements of AppComposer? What are your experiences with it?

Views: 293

Experiencing GenAI using PartyRock – the best applications I’ve seen until now

As a few of you might have seen, AWS has today launched PartyRock – an Amazon Bedrock Playground that can be used to generate and build applications using GenAI technologies.

PartyRock is an educational tool for providing any builder with low-friction access to learn through experimentation in a foundation model playground built on Amazon Bedrock. It is not a product or service in the traditional AWS definition and should never be referred to as such. The preferred descriptor is playground, though in most cases tool is also acceptable.


German engineering – Party from Berlin

I’ve been fortunate to be able to know people that are behind this launch and I’m excited for it, not only because a bunch of the engineering team members are part of the AWS Development Center in Germany but also because I’ve tried to not touch anything related to GenAI until this tool was made available.

After being able to look at the tool and playing around with it, I can see a lot of benefits of using Generative AI going forward and I see a lot of the value that this technology can bring us in addition to “simple ChatGPT like” Chatbots.

Build your first GenAI App with PartyRock

It’s too simple. Click on the “Generate app” button, add a prompt for Amazon Bedrock and within seconds you have a working application that uses GenAI under the hood!

Here’s an example of a prompt that I have used:

And the outcome of that:

Pretty cool, isn’t it? Even tho the underlying model does not have access to the session catalog (which is a pitty), I liked the outcome that you can look at in this snapshot.

Holding to it’s promises it allows you to experience with GenAI

As the introduction of the AWS team says, PartyRock really makes Bedrock accessible and gives everyone a great possibility to “try out” how the different models behave with different prompts.
I can only encourage you to try it out and make your own experiences with it. It’s worth your time!
Being part of the AWS Community (in this case, being a Hero or a Community Builder) gave us the advantage of a few hours to try this out before the official release…and this gives me the chance to already NOW present you a few cool use cases that other builders have created with this tool 🙂

PartyRock Apps & Use cases that have made me smile or bring value

It’s amazing to see how creative AWS Community Builders and Heroes are 🙂
Here a bunch of the apps that I’ve looked at and played around with and I think are worth sharing:

Content MarketingAWS DevTools Hero Thorsten HögerThis simple app allows you to use GenAI to create tailored Marketing Materials and post snippets for social media base on a Service Input.
Quiz GeneratorAWS Community Builder Dixit R JainGenerates questions for a specific topic that you can use in a quiz – the original idea is from Dixit, I’ve linked my version which is “remixed” and adds a language option
Event Countdown AppAWS DevTools Hero Johannes KochA simple event countdown calculator that shows you the time until a specific event starts.
Gameday Team Name GeneratorAWS Community Hero Markus OstertagGenerate your teamname for your next AWS Gameday – maybe at re:Invent in Las Vegas?
Generate Google Calendar and iCalAWS DevTools Hero Johannes KochGenerates an iCal and a Google Calendar link for your next event
Social Media AssistantAWS Community Builder Matteo DepascaleGenerates Tweets and LinkedIn posts to make your life easier
re:Invent Steps & Calory calculatorAWS DevTools Hero Johannes KochHelps you to calculate steps and calories burned when walking at re:Invent 2023 (hint: DON’T DO IT!) 🙂
TrumpifierAWS Community Builder Damien GallagherNo comments, but it was funny.
Conversation StarterAWS Community Hero Markus OstertagYou have challenges starting a conversation with your PeerTalk expert? This app will help you find the right entry words.
AWS Certification RecommenderAWS Community Builder Ganesh SwaminathanRecommends you a specific certification to do given your personal background
Bill & Ted Quote GeneratorAWS Community Builder Jenn BergstromGenerates quote from Bill & Ted based on your mood and situation
AirlineDestinationAdvisorAWS Community Hero Anders BjørnestadGet travel tips and tricks for a destination

Did you find an exciting app that I should include? Reach out to me and let me know 🙂

Where do we take it from here? How PartyRock helps and what I would love to get

PartyRock is a great starting point for experimenting with GenAI!

To take this to the next level there is a few things I’d love to get:

  1. Make your PartyRock app “yours”
    • Deploy to my AWS Account Button
    • Export to CDK / IaC Option
    • Export to CodeCatalyst Project
  2. Additional UI options
    • Radio Boxes, ComboBoxes
    • Make the applications “user aware”
    • Other generation options than text/image

Especially the first point would help developers to take action after creating the app – you could directly use the generated app and use this on your own AWS Account and this will help you understand how Bedrock fits into your existing AWS architecture.

What do you think of it? I’d love to hear your feedback and thoughts!

Time until re:Invent 2023:

Views: 442

How to pre:Invent – how Builders, Heros and UG Leader prepare for re:Invent – attending remotely and in person

re:Invent 2022 is approaching FAST, faster than you can actually take screenshots from the official homepage with the counter on it 🙂 We just crossed the “less than 20 days to go” and a lot of AWS community members are as excited as I am for the conference to begin.

In this post your are going to learn some tips & tricks from a few AWS Community Builders, AWS User Group Leaders and Heros (and of course from myself) about how to “pre:Invent” – “prepare for re:Invent” in order to best use the conference. I have attended re:Invent remotely as well as in person – and this year I am going to be back there in person.

Some of the heros, user group leaders & builders have attended re:Invent more than 10 times (and it only happened 11 times!) – so this postis a “source of experiences” – just as Corey Quinns post 🙂

The information that are included here were collected in less than a day – and this shows how #AWSome the AWS community is – thanks for your contributions (in no particular order):

Thorsten Höger, Markus Ostertag, Niklas Westerstråhle, Ganesh Swaminathan, David Bounds, Edmund Craske, Brian Tarbox, Mike Graff, Antonio Lagrotteria, Laurens van Gunst, Jennifer Bergstrom, Andrea Cavagna, Carlos Segundo del Castillo, Brian Pfeil

What’s the most exciting Keynote that we are expecting to see?

As all of the Keynotes are live-streamed in the attendees portal (and later made available on Youtube), this applies both to in-person and to remote attendees.

Personally I know that all of the Keynotes presented at AWS will be great and will have a lot of interesting content, as I’ve been fortunate to meet Nick Walsh at the AWS Summit Berlin. Now that I know one of the persons behind the Keynotes, I do understand how they are crafted, scripted and prepared with a high degree of customer input.

Still, the “most loved” Keynote with by my interview partners is the Keynote that Werner Vogels delivery on Thursday morning – and this is in line with my personal experiences. Werner always has the more “developer” and “builders” oriented keynote with more technical details, while at the same time putting his insights (and announcements) in context to the “broader” industry experiences and best practices.

The Adam Selipsky is second on the leaderboard, especially for the announcements that he, as the current CEO of Amazon Web Services (AWS) usually makes.

Last on our top 3 we have Peter DeSantis keynote – he delivers his Keynote on Monday evening (strange time for a Keynote) but its usually great fun to watch!

Most important information for builders attending re:Invent virtually / remotely

In general I need to admit that I’ve talked to a “biased” community – most of the persons I talked with are actually attending in person. But the pandemic and the “all-virtual” re:Invent in 2020 have proven that AWS is able to deliver a “great” virtual experience aswell. In 2021 I attended the “hybrid” re:Invent (where it happened in person in Vegas again) and was able to gain a lot of value out of it for myself.

Of course, not being in person reduces the “networking” possibilities that you have with other AWS enthutiasts and community members. But you can still learn a lot and invest into your professional career – and there are great reasons, like the aim to reduce your carbon footprint (@Brian) or maybe just the long travel time. Don’t feel left our – most of the sessions are going to be available online later.

The available sessions in the session catalog are always with a very high quality and share important insights into best practices as well as implementation details.

Register an account in the AWS Events portal. For your E-Mail adress, use an address that you can later identify (e.g. That will help you to later identify and delete…messages that you get from sponsors 😉

What are your most important tips for preparing for the best re:Invent experience?

Plan your week – in the right time zone!
All of the “live” sessions (last week it was only the “keynotes” and a few “leadership sessions”) are going to be taking place in the Pacific Time Zone (PST). This means, 8 am PST translates to 5 pm CET – and thats a great possibility to meet “in person” within other members of your User Group and watch the Keynotes with a few pizzas & drinks.

If you are planning to attend recorded sessions, they are usually available the day after they have been given “live” – so the monday will be “quiet” for you.

Pick a focus topic, project or product that you are interested in – and find the topics in the session catalog that match your “skill level”, this is the session “classification” table:

Level 100Level 200Level 300Level 400
Sessions are focused on
providing an overview of AWS
services and features, with the
assumption that attendees are
new to the topic.
Sessions are focused on
providing best practices, details
of service features and demos
with the assumption that
attendees have introductory
knowledge of the topics.
Sessions dive deeper into the selected
topic. Presenters assume that the
audience has some familiarity with
the topic, but may or may not have
direct experience implementing a
similar solution.
Sessions are for attendees who are
deeply familiar with the topic, have
implemented a solution on their own
already, and are comfortable with how
the technology works across multiple
services, architectures, and

What are our most important tips for the best re:Invent experience?

Meet in person for the Keynotes live stream if you can. That is really more fun than watching them alone remotely.

Don’t sweat it (thanks Edward!)- most of the content will be available on demand, you just need to find time to watch it – so talk to your team at work and to your manager to block some time thoughout the week for the talks you are really interested in.

Write Blog posts or Social postings with questions or remarks – and talk to Builders, Heros and other AWS Community members that are attending in person if you want specific questions to be answered by a service team!

Most important information for builders attending re:Invent in person in Las Vegas

What are our most imporant tips for preparing for the best re:Invent experience?

Bring good and comfortable shoes.

Know the campus. You are going to walk “A LOT” if you switch between venues in the campus.
The shoes that you were need to make you feel good!

Be “venue aware” when choosing the sessions – in 2018, I had a day where I needed to walk from the Venetian to the Aria and back three times on the same day – thats about 14 km on a single day!

Time is precious and limited.

Plan every day wisely:
– make time for the “hallway track” (Thanks Jennifer for explaining that saying to me!) -which means being spontanous and talking to other attendees.
– plan to be staying in one or maximum two venues per day
– plan your breaks, hydrating and meeting folks you would like to meet
– a few of us are prioritizing Chat-Talks and Workshops over sessions, others do not attend much sessions at all

Besides re:Play, there are tons of other receptions or parties accross the week. Plan to go there to network.

Pack light. Expect a lot of (cool) SWAG like this one or bigger things. You might need a lot of room in your suitcase 😉

What are our tips for the best re:Invent experience?

Prioritize networking possibilities over sessions. re:Invent is once in a year the best networking opportunity that you will get.
Don’t expect too much from youself every day – if we you meet someone to talk to, don’t feel forced to rush to the next session you had planned!

Attend the Keynotes. At least Werner’s (thursday morning) and Andys (tuesday morning).

Type down “things to look at later” on your phone – or you will actually forget the “most important thing” that you have learned during re:Invent 🙂

Regularly re-view the session catalog as new sessions are added on a daily or even hourly basis. Otherwise you might miss out on the most important one for your future career 😉

Which session are you most interested in/looking forward to?

This question was the most interesting one for me – as there is no “consens” across the group of Builders, Heros and UG Leaders that I talked to.
Everyone is different and has different interests – a few of us are going to not attend a lot of sessions and rather meet other builders and talk to them, a few are signed up for >10 sessions and can hardly choose their favorites – and others are focused on AI/ML sessions.

This is one of the things I really like about re:Invent – everyone attending will find “something” to learn, experience and take away – regardless of your skill level or role.

I was a little bit sad that none of my interview partners actually mentioned my own session, a DevChat, as her or his favorite session they are most interested in 🙂

COM307– Using CDK pipelines (in Java) to build a multi-platform Flutter app, Wednesday 12/30 at 1:30 pm PST at the EXPO

I hope to see a few of you there!

Let’s meet up in person!

For all of you that you are attending re:Invent in person – let me know in the comments or by mail – or by LinkedIn if you want to meet up.

I’m looking forward meet in person and have great conversations!

Views: 700

AWS SWAG that is used and not just grabbed – sustainable SWAG :-)

Ever since I’ve attended my first AWS re:Invent in 2017 one of the SWAG items that I received is part of close to every trip that I do, regardless if its a business trip or a personal trip, this AWS bottle always joins me in traveling:

This bottle does not only look good, it also keeps the water cold when we go on longer, warm hiking trips.
What is your favorite SWAG item? Do you have any SWAG that you regularly use?

I have a lot of other SWAG, but this is really the only item that I regularly use.
Do you have some SWAG that you like to carry on?

Here’s the AWS Community Builders SWAG kit that I receveid a few weeks back:

It’s also cool, but I’m not yet using either of the items on a daily basis 😉

Views: 243