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AWS Cloud Development Kit Core Library

Project description

AWS Cloud Development Kit Core Library

This library includes the basic building blocks of the AWS Cloud Development Kit (AWS CDK).


Aspects are a mechanism to extend the CDK without having to directly impact the class hierarchy. We have implemented aspects using the Visitor Pattern.

An aspect in the CDK is defined by this interface

Aspects can be applied to any construct. During the tree "prepare" phase the aspect will visit each construct in the tree once. Aspects are invoked in the order they were added to the construct. They traverse the construct tree in a breadth first order starting at the App ending at the leaf nodes (most commonly the CloudFormation Resource). Aspect authors implement the visit(IConstruct) function and can inspect the Construct for specific characteristics. Such as, is this construct a CloudFormation Resource?


Tags are implemented using aspects.

Tags can be applied to any construct. Tags are inherited, based on the scope. If you tag construct A, and A contains construct B, construct B inherits the tag. The Tag API supports:

  • Tag add (apply) a tag, either to specific resources or all but specific resources
  • RemoveTag remove a tag, again either from specific resources or all but specific resources

A simple example, if you create a stack and want anything in the stack to receive a tag:

import cdk = require('@aws-cdk/cdk');

const app = new cdk.App();
const theBestStack = new cdk.Stack(app, 'MarketingSystem');
theBestStack.node.apply(new cdk.Tag('StackType', 'TheBest'));

// any resources added that support tags will get them

The goal was to enable the ability to define tags in one place and have them applied consistently for all resources that support tagging. In addition the developer should not have to know if the resource supports tags. The developer defines the tagging intents for all resources within a path. If the resources support tags they are added, else no action is taken.

Tag Example with ECS

We are going to use the ECS example as starting point.

For the purposes of example, this ECS cluster is for the Marketing Department. Marketing has two core groups Business to Business (B2B) and Business to Consumer (B2C). However, the Marketing team relies on the Platform team to help build the common components across businesses and separates costs to match. The goal here is tag the Platform team resources, the Marketing Department and then Marketing groups to enable proper cost allocations.

We have modified the example and the code is located: examples/cdk-examples-typescript/hello-cdk-ecs-tags

When the example is run the following tags are created:

We are omitting the default tags for VPC components.

Construct Path Tag Key Tag Value
MarketingSystem/MarketingVpc CostCenter Platform
MarketingSystem/MarketingVpc/PublicSubnet1 CostCenter Platform
MarketingSystem/MarketingVpc/PublicSubnet1/RouteTable CostCenter Platform
MarketingSystem/MarketingVpc/PublicSubnet1/NATGateway CostCenter Platform
MarketingSystem/MarketingVpc/PublicSubnet2 CostCenter Platform
MarketingSystem/MarketingVpc/PublicSubnet2/RouteTable CostCenter Platform
MarketingSystem/MarketingVpc/PublicSubnet2/NATGateway CostCenter Platform
MarketingSystem/MarketingVpc/PublicSubnet3 CostCenter Platform
MarketingSystem/MarketingVpc/PublicSubnet3/RouteTable CostCenter Platform
MarketingSystem/MarketingVpc/PublicSubnet3/NATGateway CostCenter Platform
MarketingSystem/MarketingVpc/PrivateSubnet1 CostCenter Platform
MarketingSystem/MarketingVpc/PrivateSubnet1/RouteTable CostCenter Platform
MarketingSystem/MarketingVpc/PrivateSubnet2 CostCenter Platform
MarketingSystem/MarketingVpc/PrivateSubnet2/RouteTable CostCenter Platform
MarketingSystem/MarketingVpc/PrivateSubnet3 CostCenter Platform
MarketingSystem/MarketingVpc/PrivateSubnet3/RouteTable CostCenter Platform
MarketingSystem/MarketingVpc/IGW CostCenter Platform
MarketingSystem/B2BService/Service/SecurityGroup/Resource CostCenter Marketing
MarketingSystem/B2BService/LB/Resource CostCenter Marketing
MarketingSystem/B2BService/LB/SecurityGroup/Resource CostCenter Marketing
MarketingSystem/B2BService/LB/PublicListener/ECSGroup/Resource CostCenter Marketing
MarketingSystem/B2CService/Service/SecurityGroup/Resource CostCenter Marketing
MarketingSystem/B2CService/LB/Resource CostCenter Marketing
MarketingSystem/B2CService/LB/SecurityGroup/Resource CostCenter Marketing
MarketingSystem/B2CService/LB/PublicListener/ECSGroup/Resource CostCenter Marketing

As you can see many tags are generated with only a few intent based directives. The CDK does default some additional tags for suggested Name keys. If you want to remove those tags you can do so by using the RemoveTag aspect, see below:

// snip //
const vpc = new ec2.VpcNetwork(marketingStack, 'MarketingVpc', {
  maxAZs: 3 // Default is all AZs in region
// override the VPC tags with Platform
// this will tag the VPC, Subnets, Route Tables, IGW, and NatGWs
vpc.node.apply(new cdk.Tag(COST_CENTER_KEY, 'Platform'));
vpc.node.apply(new cdk.RemoveTag('Name'));
// snip //

This will remove the name tags from the VPC, subnets, route tables and NAT gateways. If you've been following closely, this may lead you to ask how does remove work when the tag is actually applied closer to the resource? The Tag API has a few features that are covered later to explain how this works.


In order to enable additional controls a Tag can specifically include or exclude a CloudFormation Resource Type, propagate tags for an autoscaling group, and use priority to override the default precedence. See the TagProps interface for more details.

Tags can be configured by using the properties for the AWS CloudFormation layer resources or by using the tag aspects described here. The aspects will always take precedence over the AWS CloudFormation layer in the event of a name collision. The tags will be merged otherwise. For the aspect based tags, the tags applied closest to the resource will take precedence, given an equal priority. A higher priority tag will always take precedence over a lower priority tag.


This property is a boolean that defaults to true. When true and the aspect visits an AutoScalingGroup resource the PropagateAtLaunch property is set to true. If false the property is set accordingly.

// ... snip
const vpc = new ec2.VpcNetwork(this, 'MyVpc', { ... });
vpc.node.apply(new cdk.Tag('MyKey', 'MyValue', { applyToLaunchedInstances: false }));
// ... snip


Include is an array property that contains strings of CloudFormation Resource Types. As the aspect visits nodes it only takes action if node is one of the resource types in the array. By default the array is empty and an empty array is interpreted as apply to any resource type.

// ... snip
const vpc = new ec2.VpcNetwork(this, 'MyVpc', { ... });
vpc.node.apply(new cdk.Tag('MyKey', 'MyValue', { includeResourceTypes: ['AWS::EC2::Subnet']}));
// ... snip


Exclude is the inverse of include. Exclude is also an array of CloudFormation Resource Types. As the aspect visit nodes it will not take action if the node is one of the resource types in the array. By default the array is empty and an empty array is interpreted to match no resource type. Exclude takes precedence over include in the event of a collision.

// ... snip
const vpc = new ec2.VpcNetwork(this, 'MyVpc', { ... });
vpc.node.apply(new cdk.Tag('MyKey', 'MyValue', { exludeResourceTypes: ['AWS::EC2::Subnet']}));
// ... snip


Priority is used to control precedence when the default pattern does not work. In general users should try to avoid using priority, but in some situations it is required. In the example above, this is how RemoveTag works. The default setting for removing tags uses a higher priority than the standard tag.

// ... snip
const vpc = new ec2.VpcNetwork(this, 'MyVpc', { ... });
vpc.node.apply(new cdk.Tag('MyKey', 'MyValue', { priority: 2 }));
// ... snip


To help avoid accidental storage of secrets as plain text we use the SecretValue type to represent secrets.

The best practice is to store secrets in AWS Secrets Manager and reference them using SecretValue.secretsManager:

const secret = SecretValue.secretsManager('secretId', {
  jsonField: 'password' // optional: key of a JSON field to retrieve (defaults to all content),
  versionId: 'id'       // optional: id of the version (default AWSCURRENT)
  versionStage: 'stage' // optional: version stage name (default AWSCURRENT)

Using AWS Secrets Manager is the recommended way to reference secrets in a CDK app. However, SecretValue supports the following additional options:

  • SecretValue.plainText(secret): stores the secret as plain text in your app and the resulting template (not recommended).
  • SecretValue.ssmSecure(param, version): refers to a secret stored as a SecureString in the SSM Parameter Store.
  • SecretValue.cfnParameter(param): refers to a secret passed through a CloudFormation parameter (must have NoEcho: true).
  • SecretValue.cfnDynamicReference(dynref): refers to a secret described by a CloudFormation dynamic reference (used by ssmSecure and secretsManager).

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