Serverless Handbook

Student Login

Create a good serverless developer experience

What makes a good developer experience?

I asked twitter and it was all over the place. A theme emerged:

Good developer experience is when tools make your job easier, get out of the way, and let you focus on your code

How do you setup a serverless project for good DX?

It comes down to 3 features:

  1. Infrastructure-as-code
  2. Fast deploys
  3. Tooling for common tasks


that hotspot over there avatarthat hotspot over there@muditameta
@Swizec A setup that lets the developer work at their pace on building something without ever having to worry about tooling, CI, and other accidental complexity.
In other words, a setup optimized for iteration and low accidental complexity introduced noise.

As mentioned in the Getting Started chapter, I like to use the open source Serverless Framework with AWS. When using Netlify and Vercel you don't need Serverless because config-as-code is baked into their philosophies.

You write a configuration file, add it to version control, and that's your infrastructure. Nothing happens outside that configuration file.

This means that:

  1. Your deploys are repeatable. Run deploy, get the same result every time. The same functions, the same queues, the same caching servers, everything.
  2. Same infrastructure in test as in prod Subtle differences between test environments and production are a waste of time. Big part of why Docker got popular.
  3. Share infrastructure between the team. Ever had to ask a team member what environment variable they used for a thing? I have. After 2 hours of digging into the problem and realizing it's a configuration issue. πŸ€¦β€β™‚οΈ
  4. Infrastructure that always fits your feature branch A common problem are new features with different infrastructure. Like adding a new queue or cloud function. Instead of setting it up every time you test, infra-as-code can do it for you.
  5. Spend time in the tools you like, not confusing web UI We're engineers and we like building things. Not clicking around a web UI doing repetitive tasks that take 20 minutes.

Fast deploys

Mikey avatarMikey@CodingDive
@Swizec An intuitive api and very short feedback cycles.

The shorter your feedback cycle, the faster you can work.

On the frontend we have local dev servers and hot reloading. You see the result almost as fast as you write the code.

On the backend things are trickier.

You make a change ... now what? If you have unit tests, they show you part of the picture. The specific scenarios you thought to test, the methods you're exercising, the particular inputs.

All great.

But unit tests can't tell you your system works. That's where bugs come from – systems complexity.

You can simulate the environment and run your tests. That works to an extent, but it's never perfect.

Your best bet is to make deploying to a staging, QA, or production environment fast enough to use for development. With serverless, that becomes possible.

You could even set it up so that pushing to GitHub deploys every branch. Netlify and Vercel call it pull request previews.

How fast deploys work

Here's how the flow works:

  1. Hit deploy
  2. Compile your code locally on your fast developer machine. Since your code is small, it compiles in seconds.
  3. Compile your infrastructure the serverless framework compiles your infrastructure into a config file for the target platform. With AWS that's SAM.
  4. Upload your bundle this is the slowest part.
  5. Infrastructure sets itself up using your config the platform sets itself up. Servers appear, queues go up, etc. Takes a few seconds
  6. You're ready to go

Hello! πŸ‘‹

Are you a frontend engineer diving into backend? Do you have just that one bit of code that can't run in the browser? Something that deals with secrets and APIs?

That's what cloud functions are for my friend. You take a JavaScript function, run it on serverless, get a URL, and voila.

But that's easy mode. Any tutorial can teach you that.

What happens when you wanna build a real backend? When you want to understand what's going on? Have opinions on REST vs GraphQL, NoSQL vs. SQL, databases, queues, talk about performance, cost, data processing, deployment strategies, developer experience?


Unlock your free chapter!

Access to this chapter immediately, extra free chapter and Serverless crash course in your email ✌️

I like privacy too. No spam, no selling your data.

buy now amazon

Dive into modern backend. Understand any backend

Serverless Handbook shows you how with 360 pages for people like you getting into backend programming.

With digital + paperback content Serverless Handbook has been more than 1 year in development. Lessons learned from 14 years of building production grade websites and webapps.

With Serverless Handbook, Swiz teaches the truths of distributed systems – things will fail – but he also gives you insight on how to architect projects using reliability and resilience perspectives so you can monitor and recover.

~ Thai Wood, author of Resilience Roundup

If you want to understand backends, grok serverless, or just get a feel for modern backend development, this is the book for you.

Serverless Handbook full of color illustrations, code you can try, and insights you can learn. But it's not a cookbook and it's not a tutorial.

Serverless Handbook on your bookshelf
Serverless Handbook on your bookshelf

Yes, there's a couple tutorials to get you started, to show you how it fits together, but the focus is on high-level concepts.

Ideas, tactics, and mindsets that you need. Because every project is different.

The Serverless Handbook takes you from your very first cloud function to modern backend mastery. In the words of an early reader:

Serverless Handbook taught me high-leveled topics. I don't like recipe courses and these chapters helped me to feel like I'm not a total noob anymore.

The hand-drawn diagrams and high-leveled descriptions gave me the feeling that I don't have any critical "knowledge gaps" anymore.

~ Marek C, engineer

If you can JavaScript, you can backend.

Plus it looks great on your bookshelf πŸ˜‰

buy now amazon


AWS, Azure, Vercel, Netlify, or Firebase?
Architecture principles
Created bySwizecwith ❀️