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Morgan Ney
Morgan Ney

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AWS Copilot CLI, the Good the Bad, and the Results.

Let's face it, deployments of web apps are variable and complex. With so many platforms to deploy to, and opinionated guides on a "best approach", it's easy to spend more time doing research than achieving results. As an experienced web developer and colleague, I feel your pain and understand the dilemma, especially since what is considered BCP today, is also guaranteed to be obsolete in x years as technology continues down its inexorable ascent of progress.

As a developer who'd rather spend more time adding features or fixing bugs than managing configuration around deployments, I was happy to hear about AWS Copilot CLI. If they could come through on their claim I'd be happy.

Focus your time on writing business logic instead of connecting AWS resources.

The Good

AWS Copilot CLI lived up to it's claim, at least in my experience. If you are comfortable working within a CLI and willing to explore the available options and documentation (which is pretty stellar despite my complaints) then you'll be a satisfied customer.

You don't need to learn a particular configuration DSL like CloudFormation to deploy a full-stack web application. Learn the ins-and-outs of Copilot CLI (copilot --help), seek help on their GitHub Issues when necessary, and you'll be deployed on the AWS cloud in no time, and back to adding features to your application.

I would be remiss if I didn't mention that you need to be familiar with concepts like an Application Load Balancer, and Storage Addons, etc., but grasping these basic concepts pales in comparison to learning a new dialect or managing their associated configuration files that evolve with time. The power of the AWS networking infrastructure is at your fingertips and wielded with a few copilot env or copilot svc commands.

The Bad

The Aurora storage options offered with AWS Copilot CLI are expensive, there's no way around it. If you want to use the latest v2 with an engine of PostgreSQL (probably similar with MySQL) you are going to pay a minimum of around $40/mo. Even if your database sits mostly at rest, particularly in a development or staging environment.

Things get a bit better with v1, which can actually scale down to zero, but v1 is EOL this 12/31/2024. I've personally let my feelings be known about this, and it couldn't hurt for others to do the same if you feel similarly slighted in your available offerings.

The Results

The expensive pricing notwithstanding, the service AWS Copilot CLI offers is pretty great. I was able to deploy Busmap with ease, a full-stack web application providing real-time arrival and departure times for bus stops in North and South American transit agencies. Rolling out new deployments is also seamless, things just work.

Overall, I would recommend AWS Copilot CLI.

If you ever need to catch a bus and want to know when your vehicle is arriving, check out Busmap at It is backed by the security, reliability, and availability of the AWS infrastructure, thanks to AWS Copilot CLI. Busmap source code is hosted on GitHub.

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