Building serverless .NET applications on AWS Lambda using .NET 7
This post is written by James Eastham, Senior Cloud Architect, Beau Gosse, Senior Software Engineer, and Samiullah Mohammed, Senior Software Engineer
Today, AWS is announcing tooling support to enable applications running .NET 7 to be built and deployed on AWS Lambda. This includes applications compiled using .NET 7 native AOT. .NET 7 is the latest version of .NET and brings many performance improvements and optimizations.
Native AOT enables .NET code to be ahead-of-time compiled to native binaries for up to 86% faster cold starts when compared to the .NET 6 managed runtime. The fast execution and lower memory consumption of native AOT can also result in reduced Lambda costs. This post walks through how to get started running .NET 7 applications on AWS Lambda with native AOT.
Customers can use .NET 7 with Lambda in two ways. First, Lambda has released a base container image for .NET 7, enabling customers to build and deploy .NET 7 functions as container images. Second, you can use Lambda’s custom runtime support to run functions compiled to native code using .NET 7 native AOT. Lambda has not released a managed runtime for .NET 7, since it is not a long-term support (LTS) release.
Native AOT allows .NET applications to be pre-compiled to a single binary, removing the need for JIT (Just In Time compilation) and the .NET runtime. To use this binary in a custom runtime, it needs to include the Lambda runtime client. The runtime client integrates your application code with the Lambda runtime API, which enables your application code to be invoked by Lambda.
The enhanced tooling announced today streamlines the tasks of building .NET applications using .NET 7 native AOT and deploying them to Lambda using a custom runtime. This tooling comprises three tools. The AWS Lambda extension to the ‘dotnet’ CLI (Amazon.Lambda.Tools) contains the commands to build and deploy Lambda functions using .NET. The dotnet CLI can be used directly, and is also used by the AWS Toolkit for Visual Studio, and the AWS Serverless Application Model (AWS SAM), an open-source framework for building serverless applications.
Native AOT compiles code for a specific OS version. If you run the dotnet publish command on your machine, the compiled code only runs on the OS version and processor architecture of your machine. For your application code to run in Lambda using native AOT, the code must be compiled on the Amazon Linux 2 (AL2) OS. The new tooling supports compiling your Lambda functions within an AL2-based Docker image, with the compiled application stored on your local hard drive.
Develop Lambda functions with .NET 7 native AOT
In this section, we’ll discuss how to develop your Lambda function code to be compatible with .NET 7 native AOT. This is the first GA version of native AOT Microsoft has released. It may not suit all workloads, since it does come with trade-offs. For example, dynamic assembly loading and the System.Reflection.Emit library are not available. Native AOT also trims your application code, resulting in a small binary that contains the essential components for your application to run.
To get started, create a new Lambda function project using a custom runtime from the .NET CLI.
dotnet new lambda.NativeAOT -n LambdaNativeAot
dotnet add package Amazon.Lambda.APIGatewayEvents
dotnet add package AWSSDK.Core
To review the project settings, open the
LambdaNativeAot.csproj file. The target framework in this template is set to
net7.0. To enable native AOT, add a new property named
PublishAot, with value
PublishAot flag is an MSBuild property required by the .NET SDK so that the compiler performs native AOT compilation.
When using Lambda with a custom runtime, the Lambda service looks for an executable file named bootstrap within the packaged ZIP file. To enable this, the
OutputType is set to exe and the
The correctly configured
LambdaNativeAot.csproj file looks like this:
Running .NET with a custom runtime uses the executable assembly feature of .NET. To do this, your function code must define a static Main method. Within the Main method, you must initialize the Lambda runtime client, and configure the function handler and the JSON serializer to use when processing Lambda events.
The Amazon.Lambda.RuntimeSupport Nuget package is added to the project to enable this runtime initialization. The
LambdaBootstrapBuilder.Create() method is used to configure the handler and the
ILambdaSerializer implementation to use for (de)serialization.
private static async Task Main(string args)
Func<string, ILambdaContext, string> handler = FunctionHandler;
await LambdaBootstrapBuilder.Create(handler, new DefaultLambdaJsonSerializer())
Native AOT trims application code to optimize the compiled binary, which can cause two issues. The first is with de/serialization. Common .NET libraries for working with JSON like Newtonsoft.Json and System.Text.Json rely on reflection. The second is with any third party libraries not yet updated to be trim-friendly. The compiler may trim out parts of the library that are required for the library to function. However, there are solutions for both issues.
Working with JSON
Source generated serialization is a language feature introduced in .NET 6. It allows the code required for de/serialization to be generated at compile time instead of relying on reflection at runtime. One drawback of native AOT is that the ability to use System.Relefection.Emit library is lost. Source generated serialization enables developers to work with JSON while also using native AOT.
To use the source generator, you must define a new empty partial class that inherits from System.Text.Json.JsonSerializerContext. On the empty partial class, add the JsonSerializable attribute for any .NET type that your application must de/serialize.
In this example, the Lambda function needs to receive events from API Gateway. Create a new class in the project named
HttpApiJsonSerializerContext and copy the code below:
public partial class HttpApiJsonSerializerContext : JsonSerializerContext
When the application is compiled, static classes, properties, and methods are generated to perform the de/serialization.
This custom serializer must now also be passed in to the Lambda runtime to ensure that event inputs and outputs are serialized and deserialized correctly. To do this, pass a new instance of the serializer context into the runtime when bootstrapped. Here is an example of a Lambda function using API Gateway as a source:
public class Function
/// The main entry point for the custom runtime.
private static async Task Main()
Func<APIGatewayHttpApiV2ProxyRequest, ILambdaContext, Task<APIGatewayHttpApiV2ProxyResponse>> handler = FunctionHandler;
await LambdaBootstrapBuilder.Create(handler, new SourceGeneratorLambdaJsonSerializer<HttpApiJsonSerializerContext>())
public static async Task<APIGatewayHttpApiV2ProxyResponse> FunctionHandler(APIGatewayHttpApiV2ProxyRequest apigProxyEvent, ILambdaContext context)
// API Handling logic here
return new APIGatewayHttpApiV2ProxyResponse()
StatusCode = 200,
Body = "OK"
Third party libraries
The .NET compiler provides the capability to control how applications are trimmed. For native AOT compilation, this enables us to exclude specific assemblies from trimming. For any libraries used in your applications that may not yet be trim-friendly this is a powerful way to still use native AOT. This is important for any of the Lambda event source NuGet packages like Amazon.Lambda.ApiGatewayEvents. Without controlling this, the C# objects for the Amazon API Gateway event sources are trimmed, leading to serialization errors at runtime.
Currently, the AWSSDK.Core library used by all the .NET AWS SDKs must also be excluded from trimming.
To control the assembly trimming, create a new file in the project root named rd.xml. Full details on the rd.xml format are found in the Microsoft documentation. Adding assemblies to the rd.xml file excludes them from trimming.
The following example contains an example of how to exclude the AWSSDK.Core, API Gateway event and function library from trimming:
<Assembly Name="AWSSDK.Core" Dynamic="Required All"></Assembly>
<Assembly Name="Amazon.Lambda.APIGatewayEvents" Dynamic="Required All"></Assembly>
<Assembly Name="bootstrap" Dynamic="Required All"></Assembly>
Once added, the csproj file must be updated to reference the rd.xml file. Edit the csproj file for the Lambda project and add this ItemGroup:
<RdXmlFile Include="rd.xml" />
When the function is compiled, assembly trimming skips the three libraries specified. If you are using .NET 7 native AOT with Lambda, we recommend excluding both the
AWSSDK.Core library and the specific libraries for any event sources your Lambda function uses. If you are using the AWS X-Ray SDK for .NET to trace your serverless application, this must also be excluded.
Deploying .NET 7 native AOT applications
We’ll now explain how to build and deploy .NET 7 native AOT functions on Lambda, using each of the three deployment tools.
Using the dotnet CLI
- Docker (if compiling on a non-Amazon Linux 2 based machine)
Build and deploy
To package and deploy your Native AOT compiled Lambda function, run:
dotnet lambda deploy-function
When compiling and packaging your Lambda function code using the Lambda tools CLI, the tooling checks for the
PublishAot flag in your project. If set to
true, the tooling pulls an AL2-based Docker image and compiles your code inside. It mounts your local file system to the running container, allowing the compiled binary to be stored back to your local file system ready for deployment. As a default, the generated ZIP file is output to the
Once the deployment completes, you can execute the below command to invoke the created function, replacing the
FUNCTION_NAME option with the name of the function chosen during deployment.
dotnet lambda invoke-function FUNCTION_NAME
Using the Visual Studio Extension
AWS is also announcing support for compiling and deploying native AOT-based Lambda functions from within Visual Studio using the AWS Toolkit for Visual Studio.
As part of this release, templates are available in Visual Studio 2022 to get started using native AOT with AWS Lambda. From within Visual Studio, select File -> New Project. Search for Lambda .NET 7 native AOT to start a new project pre-configured for native AOT.
Build and deploy
Once the project is created, right-click the project in Visual Studio and choose Publish to AWS Lambda.
Complete the steps in the publish wizard and press upload. The log messages created by Docker appear in the publish window as it compiles your function code for native AOT.
You can now invoke the deployed function from within Visual Studio by setting the Example request dropdown to API Gateway AWS Proxy and pressing the Invoke button.
Using the AWS SAM CLI
Support for compiling and deploying .NET 7 native AOT is built into the AWS SAM CLI. To get started, initialize a new AWS SAM project:
In the new project wizard, choose:
- What template source would you like to use? 1 – AWS Quick Start Template
- Choose an AWS Quick start application template. 1 – Hello World example
- Use the most popular runtime and package type? – N
- Which runtime would you like to use? aot.dotnet7 (provided.al2)
- Enable X-Ray Tracing? N
- Choose a project name
The cloned project includes the configuration to deploy to Lambda.
One new AWS SAM metadata property called ‘BuildMethod’ is required in the AWS SAM template:
Runtime: 'provided.al2' # // Use provided to deploy to AWS Lambda for .NET 7 native AOT
BuildMethod: 'dotnet7' # // But build with new build method for .NET 7 that calls into Amazon.Lambda.Tools
Build and deploy
Build and deploy your serverless application, completing the guided deployment steps:
The AWS SAM CLI uses the Amazon.Lambda.Tools CLI to pull an AL2-based Docker image and compile your application code inside a container. You can use AWS SAM accelerate to speed up the update of serverless applications during development. It uses direct API calls instead of deploying changes through AWS CloudFormation, automating updates whenever you change your local code base. Learn more in the AWS SAM development documentation.
AWS now supports .NET 7 native AOT on Lambda. Read the Lambda Developer Guide for more getting started information. For more details on the performance improvements from using .NET 7 native AOT on Lambda, see the serverless-dotnet-demo repository on GitHub.
To provide feedback for .NET on AWS Lambda, contact the AWS .NET team on the .NET Lambda GitHub repository.
For more serverless learning resources, visit Serverless Land.