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?

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