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How I built a Simple Sprint Dashboard with AWS Amplify

pubudusj profile image Pubudu Jayawardana ・6 min read

This article first appeared in Hashnode

Intro

This is how I built a simple sprint dashboard using VueJS and used Amplify for backend, frontend, CI/CD, and for custom domain set up as well. In this post, I would like to share my experience using Amplify and some key lessons learned ;)

This is the first time I used Amplify as well as GraphQL and I was so impressed with the ease of use of Amplify to rapidly build an application. However, there are some limitations I experienced, which I will discuss further in this post.

For the frontend part, I have used the free VueJS theme from Creative Tim and modified as I need . Most of the project setup was done using Amplify CLI, but I have to manually set up a few configurations in AWS console where Amplify doesn't support yet.

Features

Authentication and User Management

For the authentication, I have used amplify auth API. However, I didn't use the UI presets from Amplify but created custom UI components for login, forgot password, etc. Amplify support Cognito out of the box and it was really easy to configure. I used Cognito user pools to create and authenticate users. I created two user groups - Users and Admins. Registration is not open for public, so admin should create an account for user.

Once the admin created an account for the user, there will be an email sending out with a temporary password (Cognito invite flow). User will be asked to reset the password in their first login.

verify-account.png

I have created functionality to change the password for logged in user as well as forgot password feature for not loggedin users which use Amplify Auth API under the hood.

Dashboard, Backlog, Tickets, Sprints

Once user logged in, they have access to the dashboard which has summarized data about the current sprint and his/her own tasks.

dashboard.png

They can add, edit, move tickets between sprints. Also, users can move the tickets between different stages of the current sprint, namely - todo, in progress, review, testing, and done.

current-sprint.png

To store all these data, I used Amplify GraphQL API. Setting this up is a matter of minutes using Amplify CLI and documentation has good examples of how to model the data structure with different relationships. Once we provide our GraphQL schema, Amplify will automatically create all the DynamoDB tables, indexes, GSIs and it also generates all the code we need to communicate with GraphQL service (queries, mutations and subscriptions). This is really handy and I only had to do a minor modification to the generated code.

Here is my graphql definition which has 1:many and many:many relationships.

type User @model 
{
  id: ID!
  firstname: String
  lastname: String
  department: String
  designation: String
  verified: Boolean
}

type Sprint @model {
  id: ID!
  title: String!
  description: String
  startAt: Int!
  endAt: Int!
  isCurrent: Boolean!
  archived: Boolean!
  createdBy: User! @connection
  tickets: [SprintTickets] @connection(keyName: "bySprint", fields: ["id"])
}

type Ticket @model {
  id: ID!
  title: String!
  description: String
  points: Int
  priority: String!
  type: String!
  status: String!
  reportBy: User! @connection
  assignee: User  @connection
  sprints: [SprintTickets] @connection(keyName: "byTicket", fields: ["id"])
}

type SprintTickets
  @model(queries:null)
  @key(name: "bySprint", fields: ["sprintId", "ticketId"])
  @key(name: "byTicket", fields: ["ticketId", "sprintId"]) {
  id: ID!
  sprintId: ID!
  ticketId: ID!
  ticket: Ticket! @connection(fields: ["ticketId"])
  sprint: Sprint! @connection(fields: ["sprintId"])
}
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Admin specific features

Admin users have more functionality than normal users. They can create new users and promote existing users as admins as well.

users-list.png

To restrict this functionality, I have used Admin Queries API. Amplify provides set of HTTP APIs to interact with Cognito user pools for example to create user, delete user, get all users etc. It is possible to allow access to these APIs only to certain user groups in the Cognito pool easily (in our case, only to 'Admin' users).

Admins also can create sprints, close sprints, edit sprints. To restrict normal users perform these activities, I simply use the user group values provided by Auth.currentAuthenticatedUser() method.

Lambda Triggers

Lambda triggers are a great way to set up custom functionality in authentication flow. Amplify provides this with few simple configuration options.

In this project, I have set up post-confirmation trigger. When the user confirms his/her account, I add the user to the 'Users' group.

Hub

I found this feature really interesting where we need to communicate with different components of the same application. Hub is a simple pub-sub implementation provided by Amplify out of the box.

One of the instances I used Hub in this project, is to fetch data from API when tickets are moved between sprints. It was easy to set up dispatchers and listeners with channels without complex parent-child reactive communications in Vue.

Dispatcher:

Hub.dispatch("SprintsChannel", {
  event: "ticketMoved",
  data: {},
  message: "",
});
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Listener:

Hub.listen("SprintsChannel", (data) => {
  if (data.payload.event == "ticketMoved") {
    this.fetchData();
    this.fetchBacklogTickets();
  }
});
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Continuous Deployment

We can easily set up CD functionality in Amplify console. Here, for this project, I have set up CD, where each time I pushed to 'master' branch of the repository, it will build both frontend and backend and deploys automatically.

The nice thing is we can set up different branches for different environments easily. This will be quite handy when we have prod, testing, staging environments, so we can deploy to separate frontends/backends with different branches.

Custom Domains

For this project, I used a custom domain https://dashboard.pubudu.dev. This can be arranged in Amplify console with few clicks. Amplify by default provides a domain but we can always add our own.

Demo

You may create an account and play around with my project. Login with the below Admin credentials and create your own user, and promote the newly created user as an admin to use the full functionality.

You can find the source code here in Github .

List of functionality

  • Login, verify account, forgot password
  • View Dashboard, current sprint, backlog, passed sprints
  • Create, edit, close sprints (admin only)
  • Create, edit tickets
  • Move tickets between sprints, backlog
  • Move tickets of the current sprint to different stages.
  • Modify own profile information, password change
  • Create (invite) a user (admin only)
  • Promote normal user to admin (admin only)

Some key points to note (Lesson learned)

  • Although it is a best practice to use a single table in DynamoDB, Amplify/GraphQL api doesn't support it yet. But it creates a __typename column in all the tables which seems to be a sign that this will be supported soon (?)

  • Invite user functionality is not yet available with Amplify by default. Here, I had to use a custom method to use Cognito's adminCreateUser functionality in Admin Queries. Also, when user first login, his/her account will be in NEW_PASSWORD_REQUIRED state which is not considered as a confirmed user (yet). So, I had to check for this state and provide the password change form to the user to update the password in the first login.

  • Since user invite functionality is not yet available with Amplify, I had to modify the user invite message in Cognito manually.

  • As of now, we can grant permission to a specific user group to access all the admin APIs. We cannot specify/restrict different user groups for different APIs.

  • When we have many-to-many relationships in our data models, it will be messy to use only two tables. So, best option is to use 3rd table to maintain the relationship. I used SprintTickets DynamoDB table for this purpose and @model(queries:null) flag in the definition as this table is not used to query directly.

Useful Links/Resources

Feedback

I would like you to play around with my project and provide feedback. I am not so strong in the frontend, so I believe there are definitely better ways to implement these features. :)

Keep building... Keep sharing..!

Discussion (14)

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enix79 profile image
enix79

Who is saying putting everything in one table is best practice? There are several reasons amplify creates a separate table for every @model object type:

  • You can query the objects of tables by the primary key. Keep in mind that the maximum amount of GSIs is 30 (and they are not free). In a complex model it might not be enough.
  • You can assign an object to other tables/objects, i.e. assign same address id to user (user private address) and company (company business address). Reusing same object keeps your data redundancy free and avoids duplicates, i.e. "My street 1"and "My stret 1".
  • You can set the authorization on your data more granular and convenient with @auth directive, which you didn't use in your project so far.
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alexandermchan profile image
Alex Chan

Many of the resources from github.com/alexdebrie/awesome-dyna... recommend single table design. Rick Houlihan in particular has some pretty convincing talks on why and how to achieve this.

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enix79 profile image
enix79

Thank you, I will look into it.

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pubudusj profile image
Pubudu Jayawardana Author

Great. Thanks for the suggestions @enix79 . Really helpful 🙏

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hbj profile image
Haykel Ben Jemia

For better security you should use the @auth directive in the schema to only allow admins to create and update sprints.

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Pubudu Jayawardana Author

Oh yeah. Thanks for the suggestion @hbj

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Andrew Brown 🇨🇦

AWS CodeCommit has no issue tracking. Turn this into a SaaS specifically for CodeCommit integration and you are now both popular and wealthy.

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Pubudu Jayawardana Author

Thanks @andrewbrown . Yeah good idea :)

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gudata profile image
gudata

This looks so good. Nice work.

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Anoop Singh Tomar

It's looking great. Would you like to try creating Kanban board as your next project

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Pubudu Jayawardana Author

Yeah, maybe. I hope with some minor modifications this can be used as a kanban board as well.

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fauzulchowdhury profile image
Fauzul

Not bad. Jumping on to new experiences are key to success.

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Pubudu Jayawardana Author

Exactly. Also the guidance/suggestions from community is invaluable. Specially here in Dev.