Category: Amazon API Gateway

Introducing Simplified Serverless Application Deployment and Management

by Orr Weinstein | on | in Amazon API Gateway, AWS Lambda | | Comments

Orr Weinstein
Orr Weinstein, Sr. Product Manager, AWS Lambda

Today, AWS Lambda launched the AWS Serverless Application Model (AWS SAM); a new specification that makes it easier than ever to manage and deploy serverless applications on AWS. With AWS SAM, customers can now express Lambda functions, Amazon API Gateway APIs, and Amazon DynamoDB tables using simplified syntax that is natively supported by AWS CloudFormation. After declaring their serverless app, customers can use new CloudFormation commands to easily create a CloudFormation stack and deploy the specified AWS resources.


AWS SAM is a simplification of the CloudFormation template, which allows you to easily define AWS resources that are common in serverless applications.

You inform CloudFormation that your template defines a serverless app by adding a line under the template format version, like the following:

AWSTemplateFormatVersion: '2010-09-09'
Transform: AWS::Serverless-2016-10-31

Serverless resource types

Now, you can start declaring serverless resources….

AWS Lambda function (AWS::Serverless::Function)

Use this resource type to declare a Lambda function. When doing so, you need to specify the function’s handler, runtime, and a URI pointing to an Amazon S3 bucket that contains your Lambda deployment package.

If you want, you could add managed policies to the function’s execution role, or add environment variables to your function. The really cool thing about AWS SAM is that you can also use it to create an event source to trigger your Lambda function with just a few lines of text. Take a look at the example below:

AWSTemplateFormatVersion: '2010-09-09'
Transform: AWS::Serverless-2016-10-31

    Type: AWS::Serverless::Function
      Handler: index.handler
      Runtime: nodejs4.3
      CodeUri: s3://<bucket>/
          Type: S3
            Id: !Ref Bucket
            Events: Create
    Type: AWS::S3::Bucket

In this example, you declare a Lambda function and provide the required properties (Handler, Runtime and CodeUri). Then, declare the event source—an S3 bucket to trigger your Lambda function on ‘Object Created’ events. Note that you are using the CloudFormation intrinsic ref function to set the bucket you created in the template as the event source.

Amazon API Gateway API (AWS::Serverless::Api)

You can use this resource type to declare a collection of Amazon API Gateway resources and methods that can be invoked through HTTPS endpoints. With AWS SAM, there are two ways to declare an API:

1) Implicitly

An API is created implicitly from the union of API events defined on AWS::Serverless::Function. An example of how this is done is     shown later in this post.

2) Explicitly

If you require the ability to configure the underlying API Gateway resources, you can declare an API by providing a Swagger file, and     the stage name:

   Type: AWS::Serverless::Api
      StageName: prod
      DefinitionUri: swaggerFile.yml

Amazon DynamoDB table (AWS::Serverless::SimpleTable)

This resource creates a DynamoDB table with a single attribute primary key. You can specify the name and type of your primary key, and your provisioned throughput:

   Type: AWS::Serverless::SimpleTable
         Name: id
         Type: String
         ReadCapacityUnits: 5
         WriteCapacityUnits: 5

In the event that you require more advanced functionality, you should declare the AWS::DynamoDB::Table resource instead.

App example

Now, let’s walk through an example that demonstrates how easy it is to build an app using AWS SAM, and then deploy it using a new CloudFormation command.

Building a serverless app

In this example, you build a simple CRUD web service. The “front door” to the web service is an API that exposes the “GET”, “PUT”, and “DELETE” methods. Each method triggers a corresponding Lambda function that performs an action on a DynamoDB table.

This is how your AWS SAM template should look:

AWSTemplateFormatVersion: '2010-09-09'
Transform: AWS::Serverless-2016-10-31
Description: Simple CRUD web service. State is stored in a DynamoDB table.
    Type: AWS::Serverless::Function
      Handler: index.get
      Runtime: nodejs4.3
      Policies: AmazonDynamoDBReadOnlyAccess
          TABLE_NAME: !Ref Table
          Type: Api
            Path: /resource/{resourceId}
            Method: get
    Type: AWS::Serverless::Function
      Handler: index.put
      Runtime: nodejs4.3
      Policies: AmazonDynamoDBFullAccess
          TABLE_NAME: !Ref Table
          Type: Api
            Path: /resource/{resourceId}
            Method: put
    Type: AWS::Serverless::Function
      Handler: index.delete
      Runtime: nodejs4.3
      Policies: AmazonDynamoDBFullAccess
          TABLE_NAME: !Ref Table
          Type: Api
            Path: /resource/{resourceId}
            Method: delete
    Type: AWS::Serverless::SimpleTable

There are a few things to note here:

  • You start the template by specifying Transform: AWS::Serverless-2016-10-31. This informs CloudFormation that this template contains AWS SAM resources that need to be ‘transformed’ to full-blown CloudFormation resources when the stack is created.
  • You declare three different Lambda functions (GetFunction, PutFunction, and DeleteFunction), and a simple DynamoDB table. In each of the functions, you declare an environment variable (TABLENAME) that leverages the CloudFormation intrinsic ref function to set TABLENAME to the name of the DynamoDB table that you declare in your template.
  • You do not use the CodeUri attribute to specify the location of your Lambda deployment package for any of your functions (more on this later).
  • By declaring an API event (and not declaring the same API as a separate AWS::Serverless::Api resource), you are telling AWS SAM to generate that API for you. The API that is going to be generated from the three API events above looks like the following:

Next, take a look at the code:

'use strict';

console.log('Loading function');
let doc = require('dynamodb-doc');
let dynamo = new doc.DynamoDB();

const tableName = process.env.TABLE_NAME;
const createResponse = (statusCode, body) => {
    return {
        "statusCode": statusCode,
        "body": body || ""

exports.get = (event, context, callback) => {
    var params = {
        "TableName": tableName,
        "Key": {
            id: event.pathParameters.resourceId
    dynamo.getItem(params, (err, data) => {
        var response;
        if (err)
            response = createResponse(500, err);
            response = createResponse(200, data.Item ? data.Item.doc : null);
        callback(null, response);

exports.put = (event, context, callback) => {
    var item = {
        "id": event.pathParameters.resourceId,
        "doc": event.body

    var params = {
        "TableName": tableName,
        "Item": item

    dynamo.putItem(params, (err, data) => {
        var response;
        if (err)
            response = createResponse(500, err);
            response = createResponse(200, null);
        callback(null, response);

exports.delete = (event, context, callback) => {

    var params = {
        "TableName": tableName,
        "Key": {
            "id": event.pathParameters.resourceId

    dynamo.deleteItem(params, (err, data) => {
        var response;
        if (err)
            response = createResponse(500, err);
            response = createResponse(200, null);
        callback(null, response);

Notice the following:

  • There are three separate functions, which have handlers that correspond to the handlers you defined in the AWS SAM file (‘get’, ‘put’, and ‘delete’).
  • You are using env.TABLE_NAME to pull the value of the environment variable that you declared in the AWS SAM file.

Deploying a serverless app

OK, now assume you’d like to deploy your Lambda functions, API, and DynamoDB table, and have your app up and ready to go. In addition, assume that your AWS SAM file and code files are in a local folder:

  • MyProject
    • app_spec.yml
    • index.js

To create a CloudFormation stack to deploy your AWS resources, you need to:

  1. Zip the index.js file.
  2. Upload it to an S3 bucket.
  3. Add a CodeUri property, specifying the location of the zip file in the bucket for each function in app_spec.yml.
  4. Call the CloudFormation CreateChangeSet operation with app_spec.yml.
  5. Call the CloudFormation ExecuteChangeSet operation with the name of the changeset you created in step 4.

This seems like a long process, especially if you have multiple Lambda functions (you would have to go through steps 1 to 3 for each function). Luckily, the new ‘Package’ and ‘Deploy’ commands from CloudFormation take care of all five steps for you!

First, call package To perform steps 1 to 3. You need to provide the command with the path to your AWS SAM file, an S3 bucket name, and a name for the new template that will be created (which will contain an updated CodeUri property):

aws cloudformation package --template-file app_spec.yml --output-template-file new_app_spec.yml --s3-bucket <your-bucket-name>

Next, call Deploy with the name of the newly generated SAM file, and with the name of the CloudFormation stack. In addition, you need to provide CloudFormation with the capability to create IAM roles:

aws cloudformation deploy --template-file new_app_spec.yml --stack-name <your-stack-name> --capabilities CAPABILITY_IAM

And voila! Your CloudFormation stack has been created, and your Lambda functions, API Gateway API, and DynamoDB table have all been deployed.


Creating, deploying and managing a serverless app has never been easier. To get started, visit our docs page or check out the serverless-application-model repo on GitHub.

If you have questions or suggestions, please comment below.

Binary Support for API Integrations with Amazon API Gateway

by Bryan Liston | on | in Amazon API Gateway | | Comments

Masuo Gates, Software Development Manager

A year ago, the Microservices without the Servers post showed how Lambda can be used for creating image thumbnails. This required the client to Base64 encode the binary image file before calling the image conversion API as well as Base64 decode the response before it could be rendered. With the recent Amazon API Gateway launch of Binary Support for API Integrations, you can now specify media types that you want API Gateway to treat as binary and send and receive binary data through API endpoints hosted on Amazon API Gateway.

After this feature is configured, you can specify if you would like API Gateway to either pass the Integration Request and Response bodies through, convert them to text (Base64 encoding), or convert them to binary (Base64 decoding). These options are available for HTTP, AWS Service, and HTTP Proxy integrations. In the case of Lambda Function and Lambda Function Proxy Integrations, which currently only support JSON, the request body is always converted to JSON.

In this post, I show how you can use the new binary support in API Gateway to turn this Lambda function into a public API, which you can use to include a binary image file in a POST request and get a thumbnail version of that same image. I also show how you can now use API Gateway and Lambda to create a thumbnail service, which you can use to include a binary image file in a POST request and get a thumbnail version of the same image.


To get started, log in to the AWS Management Console to set up a Lambda integration, using the image-processing-service blueprint.

Create the Lambda function

In the Lambda console, choose Create a Lambda Function.

In the blueprint filter step, for Select runtime , type in ‘image’ and then choose image-processing-service.

Do not set up a trigger. Choose Next.

In the Configure function step, specify the function name, such as ‘thumbnail’.

In the Lambda function handler and role step, for Role , choose Create new role from template(s), and specify the role name (e.g., ‘myMicroserviceRole’). Finally, choose Next. For more details, see AWS Lambda Permissions Model.

Review your Lambda function configuration and choose Create Function.

You have now successfully created the Lambda function that will create a thumbnail.

Create an API and POST method

In this section, you set up an API Gateway thumbnail API to expose a publically accessible RESTful endpoint.

In the API Gateway console, choose Create API.

For API name , enter ‘Thumbnail’, add a description, and choose Create API.

In the created API, choose Resources , Actions , and Create Method.

To create the method, choose POST and select the checkmark.

To set up the POST method, for Integration type , select Lambda Function , select the appropriate Lambda region, and enter ‘thumbnail’ for Lambda Function. Choose Save.

In the Add Permission to Lambda Function dialog box, choose OK to enable API Gateway to invoke the ‘thumbnail’ Lambda function.

Set up the integration

Now, you are ready to set up the integration. In the main page, open Integration Request.

On the Integration Request page, expand Body Mapping Templates.

For Request body passthrough , choose When there are no templates defined (recommended). For Content-Type , enter “image/png”.

Choose Add mapping template and add the following template. The thumbnail Lambda function requires that you pass an operation to execute, in this case “thumbnail”, and the image payload “base64Image” you are passing in, which is “$input.body”. Review the following JSON and choose Save.

Specify which media types need to be handled as binary. Choose [API name], Binary Support.

Choose Edit , specify the media type (such as “image/png”) to be handled as binary, and then choose Save.


Now that the API is configured, you need to deploy it. On the thumbnail Resources page, choose Action , Deploy API.

For Deployment stage , select [New Stage], specify a stage name, and then choose Deploy.

A stage has been created for you; you receive the Invoke URL value to be used for your thumbnail API.


Now, you are ready to test the newly created API. Download your favorite .png image (such as apigateway.png), and issue the following curl command. Update the .png image file name and the Invoke URL value accordingly.

$ curl --request POST -H "Accept: image/png" -H "Content-Type: image/png" --data-binary "@apigateway.png" > apigateway-thumb.png

You should now be able to open the created images in your favorite image viewer to confirm that resizing has occurred.


This is just one example of how you can leverage the new binary capabilities of Binary Support in API Gateway. For more examples, see the API Gateway Payload Encodings topic in the Amazon API Gateway Developer Guide.

If you have questions or suggestions, please comment below.

Build Serverless Applications in AWS Mobile Hub with New Cloud Logic and User Sign-in Features

by Vyom Nagrani | on | in Amazon API Gateway, AWS Lambda | | Comments

Last month, we showed you how to power a mobile back end using a serverless stack, with your business logic in AWS Lambda and the resulting cloud APIs exposed to your app through Amazon API Gateway. This pattern enables you to create and test mobile cloud APIs backed by business logic functions you develop, all without managing servers or paying for unused capacity. Further, you can share your business logic across your iOS and Android apps.

Today, AWS Mobile Hub is announcing a new Cloud Logic feature that makes it much easier for mobile app developers to implement this pattern, integrate their mobile apps with the resulting cloud APIs, and connect the business logic functions to a range of AWS services or on-premises enterprise resources. The feature automatically applies access control to the cloud APIs in API Gateway, making it easy to limit access to app users who have authenticated with any of the user sign-in options in Mobile Hub, including two new options that are also launching today:

  • Fully managed email- and password-based app sign-in
  • SAML-based app sign-in

In this post, we show how you can build a secure mobile back end in just a few minutes using a serverless stack.


Get started with AWS Mobile Hub

We launched Mobile Hub last year to simplify the process of building, testing, and monitoring mobile applications that use one or more AWS services. Use the integrated Mobile Hub console to choose the features you want to include in your app.

With Mobile Hub, you don’t have to be an AWS expert to begin using its powerful back-end features in your app. Mobile Hub then provisions and configures the necessary AWS services on your behalf and creates a working quickstart app for you. This includes IAM access control policies created to save you the effort of provisioning security policies for resources such as Amazon DynamoDB tables and associating those resources with Amazon Cognito.

Get started with Mobile Hub by navigating to it in the AWS console and choosing your features.



New user sign-in options

We are happy to announce that we now support two new user sign-in options that help you authenticate your app users and provide secure access to control to AWS resources.

The Email and Password option lets you easily provision a fully managed user directory for your app in Amazon Cognito, with sign-in parameters that you configure. The SAML Federation option enables you to authenticate app users using existing credentials in your SAML-enabled identity provider, such as Active Directory Federation Service (ADFS). Mobile Hub also provides ready-to-use app flows for sign-up, sign-in, and password recovery codes that you can add to your own app.

Navigate to the User Sign-in tile in Mobile Hub to get started and choose your sign-in providers.


Read more about the user sign-in feature in this blog and in the Mobile Hub documentation.


Enhanced Cloud Logic

We have enhanced the Cloud Logic feature (the right-hand tile in the top row of the above Mobile Hub screenshot), and you can now easily spin up a serverless stack. This enables you to create and test mobile cloud APIs connected to business logic functions that you develop. Previously, you could use Mobile Hub to integrate existing Lambda functions with your mobile app. With the enhanced Cloud Logic feature, you can now easily create Lambda functions, as well as API Gateway endpoints that you invoke from your mobile apps.

The feature automatically applies access control to the resulting REST APIs in API Gateway, making it easy to limit access to users who have authenticated with any of the user sign-in capabilities in Mobile Hub. Mobile Hub also allows you to test your APIs within your project and set up the permissions that your Lambda function needs for connecting to software resources behind a VPC (e.g., business applications or databases), within AWS or on-premises. Finally, you can integrate your mobile app with your cloud APIs using either the quickstart app (as an example) or the mobile app SDK; both are custom-generated to match your APIs. Here’s how it comes together:


Create an API

After you have chosen a sign-in provider, choose Configure more features. Navigate to Cloud Logic in your project and choose Create a new API. You can choose to limit access to your Cloud Logic API to only signed-in app users:


Under the covers, this creates an IAM role for the API that limits access to authenticated, or signed-in, users.


Quickstart app

The resulting quickstart app generated by Mobile Hub allows you to test your APIs and learn how to develop a mobile UX that invokes your APIs:


Multi-stage rollouts

To make it easy to deploy and test your Lambda function quickly, Mobile Hub provisions both your API and the Lambda function in a Development stage, for instance, https://<yoururl>/Development. This is mapped to a Lambda alias of the same name, Development. Lambda functions are versioned, and this alias is always points to the latest version of the Lambda function. This way, changes you make to your Lambda function are immediately reflected when you invoke the corresponding API in API Gateway.

When you are ready to deploy to production, you can create more stages in API Gateway, such as Production. This gives you an endpoint such as https://<yoururl>/Production. Then, create an alias of the same name in Lambda but point this alias to a specific version of your Lambda function (instead of $LATEST). This way, your Production endpoint always points to a known version of your Lambda function.



In this post, we demonstrated how to use Mobile Hub to create a secure serverless back end for your mobile app in minutes using three new features – enhanced Cloud Logic, email and password-based app sign-in, and SAML-based app sign-in. While it was just a few steps for the developer, Mobile Hub performed several underlying steps automatically–provisioning back-end resources, generating a sample app, and configuring IAM roles and sign-in providers–so you can focus your time on the unique value in your app. Get started today with AWS Mobile Hub.

Going Serverless: Migrating an Express Application to Amazon API Gateway and AWS Lambda

by Bryan Liston | on | in Amazon API Gateway, AWS Lambda | | Comments

Brett Andrews
Brett Andrews
Software Development Engineer

Amazon API Gateway recently released three new features that simplify the process of forwarding HTTP requests to your integration endpoint: greedy path variables, the ANY method, and proxy integration types. With this new functionality, it becomes incredibly easy to run HTTP applications in a serverless environment by leveraging the aws-serverless-express library.

In this post, I go through the process of porting an "existing" Node.js Express application onto API Gateway and AWS Lambda, and discuss some of the advantages, disadvantages, and current limitations. While I use Express in this post, the steps are similar for other Node.js frameworks, such as Koa, Hapi, vanilla, etc.

Modifying an existing Express application

Express is commonly used for both web applications as well as REST APIs. While the primary API Gateway function is to deliver APIs, it can certainly be used for delivering web apps/sites (HTML) as well. To cover both use cases, the Express app below exposes a web app on the root / resource, and a REST API on the /pets resource.

The goal of this walkthrough is for it to be complex enough to cover many of the limitations of this approach today (as comments in the code below), yet simple enough to follow along. To this end, you implement just the entry point of the Express application (commonly named app.js) and assume standard implementations of views and controllers (which are more insulated and thus less affected). You also use MongoDB, due to it being a popular choice in the Node.js community as well as providing a time-out edge case. For a greater AWS serverless experience, consider adopting Amazon DynamoDB.

'use strict'
const path = require('path')
const express = require('express')
const bodyParser = require('body-parser')
const cors = require('cors')
const mongoose = require('mongoose')
// const session = require('express-session')
// const compress = require('compression')
// const sass = require('node-sass-middleware')

// Lambda does not allow you to configure environment variables, but dotenv is an
// excellent and simple solution, with the added benefit of allowing you to easily
// manage different environment variables per stage, developer, environment, etc.

const app = express()
const homeController = require('./controllers/home')
const petsController = require('./controllers/pets')

// MongoDB has a default timeout of 30s, which is the same timeout as API Gateway.
// Because API Gateway was initiated first, it also times out first. Reduce the
// timeout and kill the process so that the next request attempts to connect.
mongoose.connect(process.env.MONGODB_URI, { server: { socketOptions: { connectTimeoutMS: 10000 } } })
mongoose.connection.on('error', () => {
   console.error('Error connecting to MongoDB.')

app.set('views', path.join(__dirname, 'views'))
app.set('view engine', 'pug')
app.use(bodyParser.urlencoded({ extended: true }))

* GZIP support is currently not available to API Gateway.

* node-sass is a native binary/library (aka Addon in Node.js) and thus must be
* compiled in the same environment (operating system) in which it will be run.
* If you absolutely need to use a native library, you can set up an Amazon EC2 instance
* running Amazon Linux for packaging your Lambda function.
* In the case of SASS, I recommend to build your CSS locally instead and
* deploy all static assets to Amazon S3 for improved performance.
const publicPath = path.join(__dirname, 'public')
app.use(sass({ src: publicPath, dest: publicPath, sourceMap: true}))
app.use(express.static(publicPath, { maxAge: 31557600000 }))

* Storing local state is unreliable due to automatic scaling. Consider going stateless (using REST),
* or use an external state store (for MongoDB, you can use the connect-mongo package)
app.use(session({ secret: process.env.SESSION_SECRET }))

app.get('/', homeController.index)
app.get('/pets', petsController.listPets)'/pets', petsController.createPet)
app.get('/pets/:petId', petsController.getPet)
app.put('/pets/:petId', petsController.updatePet)
app.delete('/pets/:petId', petsController.deletePet)

* aws-serverless-express communicates over a Unix domain socket. While it's not required
* to remove this line, I recommend doing so as it just sits idle.

// Export your Express configuration so that it can be consumed by the Lambda handler
module.exports = app

Assuming that you had the relevant code implemented in your views and controllers directories and a MongoDB server available, you could uncomment the listen line, run node app.js and have an Express application running at http://localhost:3000. The following "changes" made above were specific to API Gateway and Lambda:

  • Used dotenv to set environment variables.
  • Reduced the timeout for connecting to DynamoDB so that API Gateway does not time out first.
  • Removed the compression middleware as API Gateway does not (currently) support GZIP.
  • Removed node-sass-middleware (I opted for serving static assets through S3, but if there is a particular native library your application absolutely needs, you can build/package your Lambda function on an EC2 instance).
  • Served static assets through S3/CloudFront. Not only is S3 a better option for static assets for performance reasons, API Gateway does not currently support binary data (e.g., images).
  • Removed session state for scalability (alternatively, you could have stored session state in MongoDB using connect-mongo.
  • Removed app.listen() as HTTP requests are not being sent over ports (not strictly required).
  • Exported the Express configuration so that you can consume it in your Lambda handler (more on this soon).

Going serverless with aws-serverless-express

In order for users to be able to hit the app (or for developers to consume the API), you first need to get it online. Because this app is going to be immensely popular, you obviously need to consider scalability, resiliency, and many other factors. Previously, you could provision some servers, launch them in multiple Availability Zones, configure Auto Scaling policies, ensure that the servers were healthy (and replace them if they weren't), keep up-to-date with the latest security updates, and so on…. As a developer, you just care that your users are able to use the product; everything else is a distraction.

Enter serverless. By leveraging AWS services such as API Gateway and Lambda, you have zero servers to manage, automatic scaling out-of-the-box, and true pay-as-you-go: the promise of the cloud, finally delivered.

The example included in the aws-serverless-express library library includes a good starting point for deploying and managing your serverless resources.

  1. Clone the library into a local directory git clone
  2. From within the example directory, run npm run config <accountId> <bucketName> [region] (this modifies some of the files with your own settings).
  3. Edit the package-function command in package.json by removing "index.html" and adding "views" and "controllers" (the additional directories required for running your app).
  4. Copy the following files in the example directory into your existing project's directory:

    • simple-proxy-api.yaml – A Swagger file that describes your API.
    • cloudformation.json – A CloudFormation template for creating the Lambda function and API.
    • package.json – You may already have a version of this file, in which case just copy the scripts and config sections. This includes some helpful npm scripts for managing your AWS resources, and testing and updating your Lambda function.
    • api-gateway-event.json – Used for testing your Lambda function locally.
    • lambda.js – The Lambda function, a thin wrapper around your Express application.

    Take a quick look at lambda.js so that you understand exactly what's going on there. The aws-serverless-express library transforms the request from the client (via API Gateway) into a standard Node.js HTTP request object; sends this request to a special listener (a Unix domain socket); and then transforms it back for the response to API Gateway. It also starts your Express server listening on the Unix domain socket on the initial invocation of the Lambda function. Here it is in its entirety:

// lambda.js
'use strict'
const awsServerlessExpress = require('aws-serverless-express')
const app = require('./app')
const server = awsServerlessExpress.createServer(app)

exports.handler = (event, context) => awsServerlessExpress.proxy(server, event, context)

TIP: Everything outside of the handler function is executed only one time per container: that is, the first time your app receives a request (or the first request after several minutes of inactivity), and when it scales up additional containers.


Now that you have more of an understanding of how API Gateway and Lambda communicate with your Express server, it's time to release your app to the world.

From the project's directory, run:

npm run setup

This command creates the Amazon S3 bucket specified earlier (if it does not yet exist); zips the necessary files and directories for your Lambda function and uploads it to S3; uploads simple-proxy-api.yaml to S3; creates the CloudFormation stack; and finally opens your browser to the AWS CloudFormation console where you can monitor the creation of your resources. To clean up the AWS resources created by this command, simply run npm run delete-stack. Additionally, if you specified a new S3 bucket, run npm run delete-bucket.

After the status changes to CREATE_COMPLETE (usually after a couple of minutes), you see three links in the Outputs section: one to the API Gateway console, another to the Lambda console, and most importantly one for your web app/REST API. Clicking the link to your API displays the web app; appending /pets in the browser address bar displays your list of pets. Your Express application is available online with automatic scalability and pay-per-request without having to manage a single server!

Additional features

Now that you have your REST API available to your users, take a quick look at some of the additional features made available by API Gateway and Lambda:

  • Usage plans for monetizing the API
  • Caching to improve performance
  • Authorizers for authentication and authorization microservices that determine access to your Express application
  • Stages and versioning and aliases when you need additional stages or environments (dev, beta, prod, etc.)
  • SDK generation to provide SDKs to consumers of your API (available in JavaScript, iOS, Android Java, and Android Swift)
  • API monitoring for logs and insights into usage

After running your Express application in a serverless environment for a while and learning more about the best practices, you may start to want more: more performance, more control, more microservices!

So how do you take your existing serverless Express application (a single Lambda function) and refactor it into microservices? You strangle it. Take a route, move the logic to a new Lambda function, and add a new resource or method to your API Gateway API. However, you'll find that the tools provided to you by the aws-serverless-express example just don't cut it for managing these additional functions. For that, you should check out Claudia; it even has support for aws-serverless-express.


To sum it all up, you took an existing application of moderate complexity, applied some minimal changes, and deployed it in just a couple of commands. You now have no servers to manage, automatic scaling out-of-the-box, true pay-as-you-go, loads of features provided by API Gateway, and as a bonus, a great path forward for refactoring into microservices.

If that's not enough, or this server-side stuff doesn't interest you and the front end is where you live, consider using aws-serverless-express for server-side rendering of your single page application.

If you have questions or suggestions, please comment below.

Easier integration with AWS Lambda and Amazon API Gateway

by Bryan Liston | on | in Amazon API Gateway, AWS Lambda | | Comments

This week, Amazon API Gateway announced three new features that make it easier for you to leverage API Gateway and AWS Lambda to build your serverless applications.

First, we now support catch-all path variables. You can define routes such as /store/{proxy+}, where the + symbol tells API Gateway to intercept all requests to the /store/* path. Second, we now support a new method type called ANY. You can use the catch-all ANY method to define the same integration behavior for all requests (GET, POST, etc). Third, you can now use a new proxy integration type for Lambda functions and HTTP endpoints. Lambda function proxy integrations apply a default mapping template to send the entire request to your functions, and it automatically maps Lambda output to HTTP responses. HTTP proxy integrations simply pass the entire request and response directly through to your HTTP endpoint.

One way to use these new features is to migrate Express applications to Lambda and API Gateway. Previously, in order to preserve your API routes in Express, you had to redefine each API method and its corresponding Express integration endpoint on API Gateway. Now, you can simply define one catch-all resource in API Gateway and configure it as a proxy integration with a Lambda function that wraps your Express application.

Head on over to Jeff Barr’s blog to read more about these new features!

Techniques and Tools for Better Serverless API Logging with Amazon API Gateway and AWS Lambda

by Bryan Liston | on | in Amazon API Gateway, AWS Lambda | | Comments

Ryan Green @ryangtweets
Software Development Engineer, API Gateway

Developing, testing, and operating Serverless APIs using Amazon API Gateway and AWS Lambda can be made much easier with built-in support for Amazon CloudWatch Logs.

In Lambda functions, you can use log statements to send log events to CloudWatch log streams, and API Gateway automatically submits log events for requests to APIs with logging enabled.

However, it can be difficult to reconcile log events for a serverless API sent across multiple CloudWatch log groups and log streams. Tracking down logs for a specific request or tailing request logs for that operation can sometimes be a cumbersome experience.

Here are some simple logging techniques and tools that can help greatly while developing, testing, and operating your serverless API.

Technique: Capture the request ID for a particular API request

The request ID for an individual API request is always returned by API Gateway in the " x-amzn-RequestId" response header. When API Gateway logs an individual API request, the request ID is always included in the first event in the request log:

"Starting execution for request: [REQUEST_ID]"

Logs for an API Gateway API are always sent to a log group in the following format:


To troubleshoot an individual API request, search for the request ID in the CloudWatch Logs console, or using the Cloudwatch API or an AWS SDK (more on tooling later).

Technique: Correlate your API Gateway request IDs with Lambda request IDs

Individual API requests are tracked independently across AWS services. Thus, an individual request to your API actually generates at least two request identifiers ("request IDs") – one for the API Gateway request and one for the Lambda invocation request.

To reduce time-to-diagnosis when analyzing logs, it is helpful to correlate both request IDs together in the logs. Log the API Gateway request ID from your Lambda function and send the API Gateway request ID ($context.requestId) to your Lambda function via a mapping template:

   "context" : {
      "request-id" : "$context.requestId"

Then, in your Lambda function, log the API Gateway request ID along with the Lambda request ID. The Lambda request ID is automatically included in the log message.

exports.handler = function(event, context) {
    var apiRequestId = event.context['request-id'];
    var lambdaRequestId = context.awsRequestId;
    console.log("API Gateway Request ID: " + apiRequestId + " Lambda Request ID: " + context.awsRequestId);
    var logprefix = "APIG: " + apiRequestId + " -  ";
    console.log(logprefix + "hello world!");

Invoking this Lambda function produces these log messages in the "/aws/lambda/[FUNCTION_NAME]" log group:

/aws/lambda/echo                           2016/09/07/[$LATEST]6ccf17d298b64b5fac8c41b1a65e0831 2016-09-07T21:39:39.145Z        943ad105-7543-11e6-a9ac-65e093327849        API Gateway Request ID: 9439989f-7543-11e6-8dda-150c09a55dc2 Lambda Request ID: 943ad105-7543-11e6-a9ac-65e093327849

/aws/lambda/echo                           2016/09/07/[$LATEST]6ccf17d298b64b5fac8c41b1a65e0831 2016-09-07T21:39:39.145Z        943ad105-7543-11e6-a9ac-65e093327849        APIG: 9439989f-7543-11e6-8dda-150c09a55dc2 -   hello world!

Using this technique allows you to quickly locate the Lambda function logs for an individual API request. Search for the request ID returned in the "x-amzn-RequestId" header in the log group for the Lambda function (by default, named "/aws/lambda/[FUNCTION_NAME]").


While the AWS SDK and CLI provide excellent building blocks for working with API Gateway, Lambda, and CloudWatch Logs, there is still room for specialized tooling for logs when developing, testing, and operating your serverless API.

To that end, I've created apilogs—a fork of the excellent awslogs project—to include native support for API Gateway/Lambda serverless APIs.

Given an API Gateway REST API ID and Stage name, this command-line tool produces an aggregated stream of time-ordered, ANSI-colored log events emitted by API Gateway and all Lambda functions attached to your API. It automatically aggregates events from all log streams for the API and Lambda functions.

For example:

Stream all log events emitted from API Gateway as well as from all Lambda functions attached to the API:

$ apilogs get --api-id xyz123 --stage prod –-watch

Search APIG/Lambda logs for events from a specific request ID in the past hour:

$ apilogs get --api-id xyz123 --stage prod --start='1h ago' | grep "6605b081-6f04-11e6-97ac-c34deb0b3dd9"

The log events can then be further filtered and processed by standard command-line tools. Credentials are passed to apilogs via the same mechanism as the AWS CLI.


I hope apilogs can become part of your standard dev, test, or ops workflows. Check out apilogs on Github. Feedback and contributions are always welcome!

Migrating a Native JAVA REST API to a Serverless Architecture with the Lambada Framework for AWS

by Bryan Liston | on | in Amazon API Gateway, AWS Lambda | | Comments

This is a guest post by Çağatay Gürtürk, the creator of the Lambada framework

Serverless computing has become a hot topics since AWS Lambda and Amazon API Gateway started to offer an elegant way to build and deploy REST APIs without needing to maintain 24/7 running servers and infrastructure, with attractive pricing models.

Being the first language offered by Lambda, Node.JS seems to have the most online resources and tools but it is also possible to write Lambda functions natively with Java and Python. Java is especially interesting as a language because of its maturity, large community, and available codebase. With Lambda and Java, it is even possible to apply enterprise patterns and frameworks such as Spring, as well as all the best practices we used to apply in the Java world.

In order to make development for Lambda in Java easier, I started Lambada Framework as an open source project. It is a little, but powerful, open source project in beta stage that lets developers create a new serverless API in AWS infrastructure or migrate an existing one.

Lambada Framework accomplishes this target by implementing the most common JAX-RS annotations and providing a Maven plugin to deploy easily to the AWS cloud. Briefly, JAX-RS is a standard annotation set which can be used to map regular Java methods to HTTP paths and methods. For instance, you can look at the following method:

public Response indexEndpoint(@PathParam int id) {
    return Response.status(200).entity("Hello world: " + id).build();

This is a very lean method marked with @GET and @Path annotations, which mean that this method is called when a GET request comes to URLs in "/helloworld/{id}" format, with theid parameter as an argument. Finally, it returns a Response object within this method with a 200 response code and text content. As you can see, these annotations offer a seamless way to define a REST API and map different resources to Java methods.

JAX-RS annotations on their own do not mean so much and they do not have any effect out-of-the-box. To make these annotations work, a JAX-RS implementation framework should be added to the project. This framework would scan all the JAX-RS annotations in the project and create a server and routing table to respond to HTTP requests correctly. While Jersey is one such reference implementation, and the most popular one, there are also other implementations of JAX-RS, such as RESTEasy and Apache CXF. You are free to choose any of them and your controller methods always stay same, thanks to standard annotations.

Lambada Framework is a JAX-RS implementation but different from the others: instead of running a web server, it scans the JAX-RS annotations at build time and populates Lambda functions and the API Gateway definitions using them.

This means that if you already marked your controller methods with JAX-RS annotations and used a framework like Jersey or RestEasy, you can easily switch to serverless architecture with very little modifications in your code. You would have to change only your build mechanism and replace your preferred JAX-RS implementation with Lambada Framework.

In the following example, you see how to deploy a very basic REST API to Lambda.

  1. First, clone the example project to your local directory:
    git clone
  1. This project has a pom.xml file with some configuration options. You must change the deployment.bucket option; other changes are up to you. The Lambada Framework creates this bucket in your account if it does not exists and it uses that bucket during your project's lifetime. S3 bucket names are global and must be unique, so you must pick a name which is not taken by any one else.

  2. Make sure that the default AWS profile installed in your system has administrator privileges, or at least the following IAM policy:

            "Version": "2012-10-17",
            "Statement": [
                    "Effect": "Allow",
                    "Action": [
                    "Resource": [
  1. Now you are all set. In the root directory of your project, fire the following command:

    mvn deploy

Your project compiles to a fat JAR with all its dependencies and is deployed to Lambda. After the JAR file is on the S3 bucket, Lambada scans that for supported JAX-RS annotations in your code and creates the necessary API Gateway endpoints. At the end of the process, the URL of your API is printed on the screen. You can navigate to this URL and explore your API using the AWS Management Console to see which resources and methods are created.

Lambada Framework is under development and support for missing JAX-RS annotations are being added. Follow the Lambada Framework GitHub page for the newest features and feel free to submit any issue or contributions.

Happy serverless computing!

Redirection in a Serverless API with AWS Lambda and Amazon API Gateway

by Bryan Liston | on | in Amazon API Gateway, AWS Lambda | | Comments

Ronald Widha

Ronald Widha @ronaldwidha
Partner Solutions Architect

Redirection is neither a success nor an error response. You return redirection when the requested resource resides either temporarily or permanently under a different URI. The client needs to issue subsequent calls to the new location in order to retrieve the requested resource. Even though you typically see 302 and 301 redirects when requesting text/html, these response types also apply to REST JSON endpoints.

Many of you are already familiar how to return success and error responses. Amazon API Gateway and AWS Lambda help development teams to build scalable web endpoints very quickly. In a previous post (Error Handling Patterns in Amazon API Gateway and AWS Lambda), we discussed several error handling patterns to implement an explicit contract for the types of error responses that an API can produce and how they translate into HTTP status codes. However, so far this blog has not discussed how to handle redirection.

This post shows the recommended patterns for handling redirection in your serverless API built on API Gateway and Lambda.

Routing Lambda errors to API Gateway HTTP 30x responses

In HTTP, there are several types of redirection codes. You return these status codes as part of an HTTP response to the client.

Type HTTP Status Code Description
Multiple types available 300 The requested resource is available in multiple representations with its own specific location (not commonly used).
Moved permanently 301 The requested resource has been moved a new permanent URI.
Found 302 The requested resource is temporarily available under a different URI.

For more information about HTTP server status codes, see RFC2616 section 10.5 on the W3C website.

In this specific scenario, you would like your API Gateway method to return the following HTTP response. Note that there are two key parameters to return:

  1. The status code, i.e., 301 or 302
  2. The new URI of the resource
HTTP/1.1 302 Found
Content-Type: text/html
Content-Length: 503
Connection: keep-alive
Date: Fri, 08 Jul 2016 16:16:44 GMT

In API Gateway, AWS recommends that you model the various HTTP response types that your API method may produce, and define a mapping from the return value of your Lambda function to these HTTP responses. To do that, you need to do two things:

  1. API Gateway can only map responses to different method responses on error. So even though redirection isn’t strictly a failure, you still throw an exception from Lambda to communicate back to API Gateway when it needs to issue a 30x response.
  2. Unlike HTTP 200 Success or any of the HTTP Error status codes, a redirection requires two values: the status code and the location. API Gateway do not support VTL for JSON serialization in the header mappings; thus, in this case, you need to take advantage of how the Lambda runtime handles exceptions to pass these values in two separate fields back to API Gateway.

Node.JS: Using the exception name to store the redirection URI

API Gateway > Lambda high level diagram

The mapping from a Lambda function error to an API Gateway method response is defined by an integration response, which defines a selection pattern used to match the Lambda function errorMessage and routes it to an associated method response. In this example, you use the prefix-based error handling pattern:

API Gateway Settings Value
Integration Response: Lambda Error Regex ^HandlerDemo.ResponseFound.*
Method Response: HTTP Status 302

Because you don’t have access to VTL in the API Gateway header mappings, retrieve your redirection URI from errorType.

API Gateway Settings Value
Integration Response: Header Mappings Location: integration.response.body.errorType

In the Lambda function Node.JS runtime, errorType can be assigned to any value. In this case, use it to store the redirection URI. In the handler.js, you have the following:

// Returns 302 or 301
var err = new Error("HandlerDemo.ResponseFound Redirection: Resource found elsewhere"); = "http://a-different-uri";
context.done(err, {});

The same technique applies to 301 permanent redirects except you replace the API Gateway regex above to detect HandlerDemo.MovedPermanently.

Node.JS: Handling other response types

In order to keep it consistent, you can leverage the same pattern for other error codes. You can leverage errorType for any end user–visible messages.

//404 error
var err = new Error(“HandlerDemo.ResponseNotFound: Resource not found.”); = “Sorry, we can't find what you're looking for. Are you sure the address is correct?";
context.done(err, {});

Just as an example, upon failure, you return a “Fail Whale” HTML webpage to the user.

API Gateway Settings Value
Integration Response: Lambda Error Regex ^HandlerDemo.ResponseNotFound.*
Method Response: HTTP Status 404
Integration Response: Content-Type (Body Mapping Templates) text/html
Integration Response: Template <html>

   <img src=”fail-whale.gif” />



HTTP 200 Success can be handled as you normally would in your handler.js:

//200 OK
context.done(null, response);

Java: Using the Java inner exception to store the redirection URI

API Gateway > Lambda high level diagram

Because Java is a strongly typed language, the errorType Lambda function return value contains the Java exception type which you cannot override (nor should you). Thus, you will be using a different property to retrieve the redirection URI:

API Gateway Settings Value
Method Response: HTTP Status 302
Integration Response: Header Mappings Location: integration.response.body.cause.errorMessage

The cause.errorMessage parameter is accessible in the Lambda function Java runtime as an inner exception.

throw new Exception(new ResponseFound(""));

ResponseFound is a class that extends Throwable.

package HandlerDemo;

public class ResponseFound extends Throwable {
  public ResponseFound(String uri) { super(uri); }

The full response from Lambda received by API Gateway is the following:

  "errorMessage": "HandlerDemo.ResponseFound:",
  "errorType": "java.lang.Exception",
  "stackTrace": [ ... ],
  "cause": {
    "errorMessage": "",
    "errorType": "HandlerDemo.ResponseFound",
    "stackTrace": [ ... ]

Because Lambda serializes the inner exception type to the outer errorMessage. you can still use the same Lambda error regex in API Gateway to detect a redirect from errorMessage.

API Gateway Settings Value
Integration Response: Lambda Error Regex ^HandlerDemo.ResponseFound.*


In this post, I showed how to emit different HTTP responses, including a redirect response, on Amazon API Gateway and AWS Lambda for Node.JS and Java runtimes. I encourage developers to wrap these patterns into a helper class where it handles the inner working of returning a success, error, or redirection response.

One thing you may notice missing is an example of handling redirection in Python. At the time of writing, the Chalice community is considering support for this use case as part of the framework.

If you have questions or suggestions, please comment below.

Analyzing Genomics Data at Scale using R, AWS Lambda, and Amazon API Gateway

by Bryan Liston | on | in Amazon API Gateway, AWS Lambda | | Comments

This is a guest post by Anish Kejariwal, Director of Engineering for Station X

Station X has built the GenePool web platform for real time management, visualization, and understanding of clinical and genomic data at scale. As part of the GenePool analytics engine, R is used to calculate statistics that help scientists search for patterns in their genomic data. Scaling R using traditional methods has been challenging since GenePool calculates statistics for tens of thousands of genes, and millions of variants in real time.

In this post, I walk you through the process of creating a Python AWS Lambda package that bundles R, show you how to execute Lambda via Amazon API Gateway, and explain how this serverless microservices architecture has enabled GenePool to scale R dynamically to analyze genomics data in real time.

Station X’s GenePool platform

GenePool is an enterprise-level customizable and extensible platform for biomarker discovery, translational research, and clinical genomics. GenePool can be used to analyze all of the common genomic data types, including gene expression levels, sequence variations, copy number, and DNA methylation data. These analyses can be applied to both customer data and GenePool’s reference library, which includes The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA), among other large projects.

GenePool is built upon AWS and is designed for storing, analyzing, and managing patient data in a HIPAA-compliant environment. To comply with HIPAA, Station X has signed a Business Associate Agreement (BAA) with AWS to ensure that protected health information (PHI) is adequately protected. Only the HIPAA-eligible services defined in the AWS BAA can be used to process, store, and transmit personally-identifiable patient data.

AWS Lambda and Amazon API Gateway are not currently HIPAA-eligible services, so we implement a process to de-identify all data to be analyzed using our described workflow. To use these services, I’ll explain how PHI data is de-identified to maintain BAA compliance.

Survival analysis background

GenePool provides a number of statistical analyses, one of which is the survival analysis. Survival analysis is a class of statistical methods that models the association of a variable with the time it takes for an event to occur, such as failure of a cancer patients’ response to therapeutic treatment. The most widely used statistical method for survival analysis is the Cox proportional-hazards regression model. We will show how GenePool uses the R function coxph to provide survival analysis statistics for every gene (~20k) in the genome, in order to calculate the significance of an association of a gene’s expression level with the time to outcome event.

Decision to use AWS Lambda with Amazon API Gateway

Calculating survival statistics on every gene is an example of an “embarrassingly parallel” problem. SparkR on Amazon EMR is one possible implementation solution, but Lambda provides significant advantages for GenePool in this use case: as scientists run analyses in GenePool, Lambda is able to scale up dynamically in real time and meet the spike in requests to calculate statistics on tens of thousands of genes, and millions of variants. In addition, you do not have to pay for idle compute time with Lambda and you do not have to manage servers.

When executing Lambda functions, you have a choice of executing them directly, or using API Gateway. Station X chose API Gateway because it provides a REST API (our preferred approach for integration with services), has built in request throttling, and supports robust error handling via HTTP status codes.

Solution walkthrough

Using R in Lambda requires building a zip package that contains C shared libraries. You compile these on an Amazon Linux instance to ensure compatibility with the Lambda environment. You also write a Lambda handler in Python that dynamically loads the R shared libraries and interfaces with R via rpy2, a Python package. You then execute the function via API Gateway.

All of this code is also available in the Lambda R Survival Statistics GitHub repository.

Step 1: Compile R and all dependencies for Amazon Linux

To start, you need an instance running the same version of Amazon Linux as used by Lambda. You can find the AMI version listed in Lambda Execution Environment and Available Libraries. Because you are only using this instance to build the package for Lambda, a t2.micro is sufficient.

Here is a sample command to launch an instance in US East (N. Virginia):

aws ec2 run-instances \
    --image-id ami-60b6c60a \
    --count 1 \
    --instance-type t2.medium \
    --key-name YourKeyPair \
    --security-group-ids sg-xxxxxxxx \
    --subnet-id subnet-xxxxxxxx

After you have launched your instance, SSH into it. For more information, see Getting Started with Amazon EC2 Linux Instances.

After you have connected to the instance, configure the AWS CLI with your security credentials. This is necessary because you will be copying the Lambda package to Amazon S3. For more information, see Configuring the AWS Command Line Interface.

aws configure

Now, execute the following commands to install everything required for R, Python, and rpy2.

# First, make sure everything is up-to-date:
sudo yum -y update
sudo yum -y upgrade

# install everything
# readline is needed for rpy2, and fortran is needed for R
sudo yum install -y python27-devel python27-pip gcc gcc-c++ readline-devel libgfortran.x86_64 R.x86_64

# install the R survival package
sudo R CMD INSTALL survival_2.39-4.tar.gz

Step 2: Install rpy2

Next, use virtualenv to manage all of the Python dependencies, so that you can package them easily. After you create your virtual environment, install rpy2.

virtualenv ~/env && source ~/env/bin/activate

pip install rpy2

Step 3: Package R and rpy2 for Lambda

R is located at /usr/bin/R, and is simply a shell script wrapper. Looking at the shell script, there are two important things to understand for packaging:

  • R_HOME_DIR is /usr/lib64/R
  • The actual R binary is located at: /usr/lib64/R/bin/exec/R

You need everything in /usr/lib64/R, as well as all the shared libraries for the R binary. The shared libraries can be found via:

ldd /usr/lib64/R/bin/exec/R

You need all the shared libraries that were not already on the box before you installed R, plus liblapack (as we learned through trial and error).

# create a directory called lambda for the package
mkdir $HOME/lambda && cd $HOME/lambda

# copy R
cp -r /usr/lib64/R/* $HOME/lambda/

# Use ldd on R executable to find shared libraries, and copy all of the ones that were not already on the box
cp /usr/lib64/R/lib/ $HOME/lambda/lib/
cp /usr/lib64/ $HOME/lambda/lib/
cp /usr/lib64/ $HOME/lambda/lib/
cp /usr/lib64/ $HOME/lambda/lib/
cp /usr/lib64/ $HOME/lambda/lib/

# Also grab this one
cp /usr/lib64/ $HOME/lambda/lib/

# copy R executable to root of package
cp $HOME/lambda/bin/exec/R $HOME/lambda

Step 4: Add the libraries from the Python virtual environment

Use the following commands to add the libraries. You could copy all of $VIRTUAL_ENV/lib/python2.7/site-packages/ but for this walkthrough, take the essentials only.

cp -r $VIRTUAL_ENV/lib64/python2.7/site-packages/* $HOME/lambda
# Essential packages only
cp -r $VIRTUAL_ENV/lib/python2.7/site-packages/singledispatch* $HOME/lambda

Step 5: Write a handler in Python to calculate survival statistics via R

In $HOME/lambda, create a file called as shown below (as mentioned previously, this code is available on GitHub).

There are a few important things to make note of in the code:

  • You need to load all shared libraries and set the R environment variables before you can import rpy2.
  • To optimize performance, the code has been designed so that each request can support the expression values of multiple genes. For example, to calculate the statistics for 20 K genes, we are able to make 100 requests each with 20 genes. This helps minimize latency by reducing the number of requests.
  • Log messages to Amazon CloudWatch by using the Python logging module, which will add a timestamp for each log entry.
import ctypes
import json
import os

# use python logging module to log to CloudWatch

import logging

# must load all shared libraries and set the R environment variables before you can import rpy2

# # load R shared libraries from lib dir

for file in os.listdir('lib'):
    if os.path.isfile(os.path.join('lib', file)):
        ctypes.cdll.LoadLibrary(os.path.join('lib', file))

# set R environment variables

os.environ["R_HOME"] = os.getcwd()
os.environ["R_LIBS"] = os.path.join(os.getcwd(), 'site-library')

# import rpy2

import rpy2
from rpy2 import robjects

from rpy2.robjects import r

def calculate_survival_stats(times, events, values_by_record):
    @param times: time elapsed before the event occurs, or when subject is censored
    @param events: 1 indicates event was observed; 0 indicates event did not occur
    @param values_by_record: two dimensional double array.  Each row is the predictor values for a record (ex: gene)
    @return: array where each element contains the hazard ratio and pvalue for the record

    # flatten values of two dimensional array for use by R
    # in R, matrices are simply an array where you specify number of columns per row

    flattened_values = [y for row in values_by_record for y in row]
    t = robjects.FloatVector(times)
    e = robjects.IntVector(events)
    v = robjects.FloatVector(flattened_values)
    # convert flattened values into an R matrix
    m = robjects.r['matrix'](v, nrow=len(values_by_record), byrow=True)

    #load R library

    # assign variables in R
    r.assign('valuesMatrix', m)
    r.assign('numSamples', len(times))
    r.assign('times', t)
    r.assign('events', e)
    # calculate statistics by applying coxph to each record's values

    logging.debug('Calculating stats')
    r("""res <- apply(valuesMatrix,1, function(values) {
      coxlist = try(coxph(Surv(times,events)~values + cluster(1:numSamples[1])))
      return(c(summary(coxlist)$coefficients[2], summary(coxlist)$coefficients[6]))
    logging.debug('Done calculating stats')

    # convert results

    r_res = robjects.r['res']
    res_iter = iter(r_res)
    results = []
    for hazard in res_iter:
        pval = next(res_iter)
        results.append({'hazard': hazard, 'pval': pval})
    return results

def lambda_handler(event, context):
    times = event['times']
    events = event['events']

    # support receiving values (ex: expression) for multiple records (ex: genes)

    values_by_record = event['values_by_record']'Number of samples: {0}'.format(len(times)))'Number of genes/variants: {0}'.format(len(values_by_record)))

        stats_list = calculate_survival_stats(times, events, values_by_record)
    except rpy2.rinterface.RRuntimeError, e:
        logging.error('Payload: {0}'.format(event))
        logging.error('Error: {0}'.format(e.message))
        # generate a JSON error response that API Gateway will parse and associate with a HTTP Status Code

        error = {}
        error['errorType'] = 'StatisticsError'
        error['httpStatus'] = 400
        error['request_id'] = context.aws_request_id
        error['message'] = e.message.replace('\n', ' ') # convert multi-line message into single line
        raise Exception(json.dumps(error))
    res = {}
    res['statistics_list'] = stats_list
    return res

Step 6: Create the package for Lambda

Use the following commands to create the package:

cd $HOME/lambda
zip -r9 $HOME/ *
# copy to s3
aws s3 cp $HOME/ s3://<your-s3-bucket>

Step 7: Test Lambda package on another EC2 instance

As in step 1, start up a new EC2 t2.micro instance and SSH to it. As before, be sure to configure AWS CLI with your security credentials.

Then unpack the Lambda package and set some R environment variables so you can test things.

aws s3 cp s3://<your-s3-bucket>/ .
export R_HOME=$HOME

Now test the handler by putting the following code in a new file called (this code is also available on GitHub).

import handler
import unittest

class SurvivalHandlerTest(unittest.TestCase):
    def test_survival_stats(self):
        times = [4.638356164, 4.331506849, 4.142465753, 4.712328767, 4.076712329, 4.704109589, 4.630136986, 3.863013699, 5.778082192, 5.306849315, 6.065753425, 5.767123288, 5.953424658, 5.684931507, 6.167123288, 5.457534247, 4.298630137, 4.287671233, 4.928767123, 4.931506849, 5.446575342, 5.295890411, 9.342465753, 5.95890411, 8.610958904, 3.246575342, 8.591780822, 6.693150685, 0.254794521, 7.81369863, 8.882191781, 4.010958904, 5.58630137, 7.416438356, 7.750684932, 7.293150685, 6.893150685, 7.860273973, 2.597260274, 7.430136986, 12.10136986, 12.14520548, 11.73424658, 12.14794521, 11.30136986, 12.16986301, 9.402739726, 11.09315068, 10.36712329, 10.03835616, 5.506849315, 1.37260274, 6.890410959, 9.97260274, 10.12876712, 9.443835616, 6.923287671, 5.517808219, 4.652054795, 5.309589041, 11.95890411, 10.21643836, 8.745205479, 3.523287671, 1.630136986, 4.087671233, 6.876712329, 6.739726027, 5.317808219, 4.180821918, 4.02739726, 5.424657534, 4.501369863, 8.526027397, 1.389041096, 7.235616438, 1.849315068, 5.167123288, 1.290410959, 11.17534247, 0.939726027, 0.367123288, 11.12328767, 10.82191781, 4.205479452, 7.279452055, 9.208219178, 5.619178082, 3.093150685, 9.131506849, 10.32876712, 9.953424658, 9.994520548, 9.608219178, 8.909589041, 9.279452055, 7.304109589, 8.060273973, 8.093150685, 8.312328767, 7.97260274, 0.78630137, 0.597260274, 3.81369863, 1.268493151, 3.835616438, 2.950684932, 8.671232877, 8.917808219, 8.791780822, 5.898630137, 1.279452055, 3.005479452, 4.843835616, 6.238356164, 5.164383562, 4.55890411, 5.84109589, 5.468493151, 4.909589041, 3.832876712, 8.430136986, 7.791780822, 3.367123288, 7.460273973, 7.605479452, 7.169863014, 0.161643836, 1.430136986, 5.569863014, 6.257534247, 5.079452055, 4.726027397, 3.863013699, 4.857534247, 3.139726027]

        events = [0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1, 0, 1, 1, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1, 1, 0, 0, 0, 1, 0, 1, 1, 0, 1, 0, 1, 1, 1, 0, 1, 1, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1, 1, 1, 1, 0, 1, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1, 0, 0, 0, 1, 1, 0, 0, 0, 1, 0, 0, 0]

        predictor_values = [6.20684480226827, 3.20690674515886, 0.979896435651624, 11.2658574924525, 2.84228777849127, 5.28955162693772, 11.4946326381005, 32.2839192709712, 31.9587971221759, 15.5092044077945, 17.3313542688733, 23.0916782450709, 21.615914667679, 16.8388670997496, 7.16106269156295, 19.5941345251978, 2.95022582776833, 3.72486367005869, 27.8714606235475, 5.79353268854366, 10.8543205617944, 8.33718317212276, 8.54915876555219, 1.15201260454495, 1.58465100154883, 14.2500537880492, 1.43757261517753, 3.70485535084333, 5.82845024031615, 52.710274723687, 3.67852162691948, 0.923697012806148, 8.02644710140789, 9.71669553654854, 2.98229349980929, 8.66844422528818, 39.1305644805833, 12.3733519649876, 15.0889564765008, 18.1900372095169, 38.7059092082392, 10.3257903971892, 0.601690793821173, 2.08056970689632, 6.28612807776514, 10.5226180420163, 25.0146913978932, 7.37156805651407, 4.84403308162777, 13.2683731528648, 3.00149702535328, 13.7356129723804, 12.60785785915, 12.3442627221716, 2.83154572391329, 7.45862918010557, 6.45244123285159, 27.8652289705856, 12.7146092880982, 15.970797750862, 11.5643513218214, 9.23675971554499, 42.5550503730632, 10.838734628583, 34.9481207060481, 12.3494932612122, 34.1777026690947, 12.4543781921956, 7.63588482898268, 22.1968995958946, 28.5619330841864, 19.6749664316186, 25.6836593916572, 30.0390866740329, 10.0963283883627, 26.9121864181023, 44.7754867240884, 24.7088428954796, 11.93794427821, 4.42348558472551, 14.6659134525814, 38.1873090478504, 18.5821411156051, 16.9447829868588, 12.8581195432229, 0.330491627947204, 1.11077808211899, 7.34518564185823, 44.0348521700236, 10.2469102231837, 6.42466533567732, 4.30841802714224, 7.86522606430801, 6.91244772436417, 32.7549054691372, 30.609136082726, 31.6538981532932, 28.8484915444612, 6.73798926424405, 9.20506845339816, 6.96569368635659, 30.010711578906, 66.4559889462629, 55.7262425828117, 13.8383046586689, 9.02844750113206, 16.0575996672542, 2.75431670527343, 7.73229651483174, 0.314096764153486, 6.3796340636411, 6.19888231947652, 8.50773626310158, 8.17003714776602, 1.7022377394155, 2.54803316986572, 10.6387329814921, 4.16644939773153, 3.38945499777335, 9.79919581900252, 4.85817119867753, 18.5326183391172, 20.4274929494887, 48.5142850973116, 62.3393690012863, 6.05430979930315, 11.3201640323061, 49.7707747961335, 31.7284095600361, 4.00134321586944, 14.3260255593491, 44.5189580861748, 25.5398539079413, 45.3180619182823, 15.7880882467983, 2.83980706238194]

        # simulate passing in predictor (expression) values for two records (genes) by creating 2D array where both

        # rows have the same values

        values_by_record = [predictor_values, predictor_values]

        results = handler.calculate_survival_stats(times, events, values_by_record)

        for result in results:
            self.assertEquals(result['hazard'], 1.0461031177542928)
            self.assertEquals(result['pval'], 5.643821021250606e-05)

if __name__ == "__main__":

Now, execute it to verify all tests pass successfully:

python ./


# Ran 1 test in 0.056s

# OK

Step 8: Deploy the Lambda function

Michael Raposa recently wrote the Extracting Video Metadata using AWS Lambda and Mediainfo post which describes how to deploy a Lambda function. Follow the instructions in Step 4: Deploy the Lambda function.

When configuring the Lambda function, specify the handler as handler.lambda_handler, set the memory to the maximum size of 1536 MB (greater memory allocation in Lambda is correlated with greater compute power), and set the timeout to 30s (the max for API Gateway).

For more information about deploying Lambda functions, see Creating a Deployment Package (Python).

Step 9: Deploy the API Gateway

For more information, see Make Synchronous Calls to Lambda Functions in the Amazon API Gateway Developer Guide.

Step 10: Configure API Gateway to map Lambda errors to a 400 HTTP status code

You may have noticed that if you encounter an error in the Lambda handler while calculating the statistics, it throws an exception with a custom error object serialized as a JSON string.

In API Gateway, you will map this a 400 HTTP status code so that GenePool can handle this error, log it, and report a friendly message to the user that there was an error. Reporting a friendly error message is important since it enables GenePool to remind the researchers that they need to have a sufficient number of samples with events in order to calculate statistical significance.

A recent post, Error Handling Patterns in Amazon API Gateway and AWS Lambda, explained how to map error strings to a HTTP status code, but you’ll go through the details for this specific string.

  1. Open up the Post method in your API gateway and do the following:
  2. Choose Method Response and add a 400 error.
  3. In the Post method, choose Integration Response , 400.
  4. For Selection pattern , enter .*”httpStatus”: 400,.*.
  5. Choose Save.
  6. Choose Body Mapping Templates.
  7. For Content type , enter “application/json”.
  8. For Mapping template , enter the following code:
#set ($errorMessageObj = $util.parseJson($input.path('$.errorMessage')))
  "code" : $errorMessageObj.httpStatus,
  "message" : "$errorMessageObj.message",
  "request-id" : "$errorMessageObj.request_id"

Finally Choose Save and re-deploy the API.

Step 11: Calculate survival statistics

To demonstrate a survival analysis, this walkthrough looks at the RNA-seq expression counts data from the breast cancer cohort of TCGA. There are 1218 patients in this cohort, and you will look at the 480 patients who have primary tumor samples, were diagnosed after 2009 (to ensure non-biased collection of samples from living and deceased patients), and have been monitored for recurrence of breast cancer.

GenePool calculates the survival statistics on all 20k genes in the genome but for this post, you just look at the MKI67 and APOE genes. MKI67 is a known biomarker for breast cancer recurrence ( PMC3669503) and is one of the genes used in a commercial available diagnostic test that predicts the likelihood of breast cancer recurrence ( PMC3396611, PMC3669503). In contrast, APOE is unrelated to breast cancer and is instead linked to Alzheimer’s disease and cardiovascular disease. We expect MKI67 to have a significant p-value showing association to recurrence of breast cancer, and we expect APOE to not have a significant p-value.

Call API Gateway via curl with a payload that includes the following parameters:

  • events – An outcome event indicating whether the patient had a recurrence of breast cancer (1=true, 0=has not had recurrence for the duration of the study).
  • times – The number of days until recurrence of cancer (the event) occurs, or the number of days on the study without recurrence.
  • values_by_record – A two dimensional array, where each row represents a gene’s normalized expression value in each patient. The first row represents MKI67 and the second row represents APOE.

Execute the following curl command (the curl command is also available on GitHub as a shell script called

curl -H "Content-Type: application/json" -X POST -d "{ \
\"events\": [0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1, 1, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0], \
\"times\": [1612, 1474, 348, 1477, 1471, 303, 554, 559, 1474, 714, 528, 683, 616, 584, 595, 501, 1290, 523, 552, 322, 1102, 1206, 996, 802, 1546, 222, 742, 648, 706, 820, 643, 666, 1043, 931, 965, 556, 765, 718, 899, 954, 738, 722, 291, 661, 627, 679, 345, 322, 313, 343, 174, 419, 364, 454, 418, 446, 441, 644, 545, 448, 368, 326, 336, 313, 285, 317, 266, 585, 698, 677, 1005, 588, 237, 987, 197, 496, 451, 675, 734, 762, 456, 504, 602, 471, 707, 754, 890, 511, 588, 455, 348, 417, 530, 568, 413, 373, 51, 250, 1, 614, 34, 40, 70, 10, 10, 7, 10, 303, 224, 227, 5, 10, 10, 10, 196, 172, 242, 213, 231, 218, 210, 214, 10, 11, 10, 10, 10, 16, 163, 10, 375, 9, 10, 10, 10, 10, 162, 170, 350, 172, 475, 989, 78, 1001, 584, 1161, 1198, 1233, 1742, 1013, 1185, 301, 78, 178, 170, 728, 759, 1001, 149, 652, 1093, 856, 795, 1120, 1119, 612, 320, 635, 567, 715, 293, 160, 295, 574, 662, 287, 0, 363, 358, 358, 385, 358, 0, 385, 385, 385, 385, 1476, 382, 370, 411, 383, 0, 383, 393, 136, 380, 375, 332, 345, 343, 5, 366, 317, 375, 394, 375, 616, 381, 376, 394, 470, 513, 508, 1, 297, 747, 439, 1034, 394, 396, 380, 408, 1728, 635, 403, 626, 425, 431, 410, 643, 584, 431, 532, 431, 1688, 480, 552, 575, 366, 1448, 426, 577, 611, 612, 611, 590, 620, 639, 371, 405, 447, 565, 541, 509, 783, 727, 839, 552, 446, 522, 463, 448, 664, 441, 606, 538, 1682, 499, 482, 496, 506, 395, 461, 1309, 503, 466, 472, 302, 433, 430, 530, 488, 409, 397, 439, 1461, 499, 410, 519, 49, 307, 398, 381, 373, 1015, 563, 659, 492, 21, 767, 275, 626, 336, 1210, 595, 1732, 428, 1563, 501, 1133, 675, 659, 337, 1523, 1604, 597, 1051, 1325, 252, 931, 1208, 1062, 1179, 1043, 538, 1059, 1000, 1120, 443, 1039, 1101, 1112, 1203, 1266, 1088, 90, 786, 576, 300, 755, 860, 1063, 78, 186, 92, 339, 1467, 1369, 976, 34, 1419, 200, 647, 1417, 1449, 790, 975, 1285, 1148, 1189, 1167, 1248, 1269, 1239, 1232, 305, 21, 1186, 59, 217, 747, 375, 524, 288, 1158, 1001, 918, 926, 727, 725, 812, 24, 785, 803, 847, 371, 554, 575, 403, 504, 477, 703, 562, 207, 575, 187, 424, 320, 439, 607, 788, 672, 1035, 532, 533, 715, 463, 510, 760, 952, 1010, 412, 551, 360, 352, 646, 402, 216, 404, 323, 759, 996, 889, 762, 519, 258, 447, 440, 450, 677, 80, 489, 477, 192, 441, 594, 376, 596, 532, 681, 681, 64, 1219, 1062, 1106, 878, 752, 679, 620, 812, 1275, 1301, 792, 528, 428, 858, 600, 1220, 275, 5, 8, 302, 572, 562, 641, 629, 586, 421, 574, 529, 525, 424, 518, 116, 347, 1611, 883, 467, 488], \
\"values_by_record\": [ \
[2.412601542531451, 0.016614713850896357, 0.4054379748118846, -0.8920520866328855, -2.244443123683136, 0.02914634565951651, 1.5195821051444676, 1.5927834276655395, 1.0653158843596753, 0.3793614060177867, 2.521766340816188, 0.3175277214425974, -0.6632711549073212, 2.4601253888073815, 2.1640004204061705, -3.318044982124254, 1.9669273951529405, 2.6817307322085915, 0.39164275305922297, 2.439645274005191, 1.296241451223713, 0.9917634020740747, -0.0019491491920806188, 3.444477788283977, 1.9048662437389499, -0.3008711940415052, 0.6790654967778672, -1.1483276530734987, -1.7069411009655162, -0.6477854569540853, -0.6762456348357226, 2.2078711408183755, 0.7300733338055279, -0.26742973217402966, 2.6471751149242437, 1.1876766323417711, 2.1628709337954777, -0.11422774437106935, -0.7560684212614373, 0.7432287295252089, 2.772398369235506, 2.3927667084595527, 1.0798212609741762, 3.4387324522091585, 1.9836691172969088, 1.3826100185487746, -0.21862066744723957, 1.7720265464002525, 0.6103744915379287, 0.01217129019514936, -0.5803614374171678, 0.3561150879634862, -0.5437397620074926, 1.0210785056292226, 0.11750969980403138, -0.7348379491400607, 2.0919105340620043, 1.4610373834717618, 0.8095746430473361, 0.3359695285043548, 1.0147451163700012, -1.9345863928292335, -3.2191283434834244, 2.01457644562511, 2.3967439763786955, 1.0611876415985313, 1.3797198926669514, 0.40857626296473526, 0.6080130468133842, 0.3042265790643356, 2.0, -1.8630407867794, 0.4358201368273262, -1.376418839596451, -0.24572541653357263, 0.5141289024986383, 0.8771816760640575, -2.216485614353596, 0.2971136255032771, 1.1067362205975195, -1.6948772572224906, 1.0331751499629171, 0.16349873228287956, 0.5069166099627985, -1.5298405245559705, -0.9391247506029844, 0.5710543206801059, 0.40907494217245716, -0.18976831718683226, 0.6235219022334146, 0.5983592787716827, 0.3898060929560399, -1.2215946029005382, 0.7160313373763258, 1.5466749367408734, 0.5625529341560198, 0.4818410960401405, 1.562863895158343, 1.3879197506661467, 0.5068754522799518, 1.6977133042359513, -0.742857813302269, -0.208743467884093, 0.0873914168142966, 1.0280473848763325, 1.1189382708398328, 0.8107367028815068, 1.8374403568957298, 2.1969199720308614, 2.899719115216542, 1.340072687571817, 2.4726720728080296, 0.9206821544462835, 2.306472427067418, 0.9722785043563678, 1.6638689497519723, 2.6958582756091882, 0.904266717878479, 0.7347826472293819, -0.0031374750188567628, -0.40711085458529767, -0.8358113681068322, 0.9103051182367585, 0.7684136158814636, 2.1159089681461536, 1.9390651202358982, 0.3731641605160612, -0.6729849682643843, 0.2451307781951317, 0.6557604767361525, 0.6222573678032501, -0.3241586564109311, 1.5305393178061648, -0.3050114558873956, -0.31435045542503826, 2.6681898001907554, 0.6871275587211826, 1.2124356521355357, 2.5180135944763475, -0.21930280439875383, -1.554449697935381, 1.1176208002654384, 0.6177260491786858, -0.985898119869793, -0.35541783996723103, -2.081464991313069, 0.2516073071208551, -0.15330296517699085, 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] }" https://<endpoint>/<api-name> | python -m json.tool


    "statistics_list": [
            "hazard": 1.3926333898762577,
            "pval": 0.005922935208231839
            "hazard": 0.957292958555334,
            "pval": 0.7976137866147548


The first row in the response corresponds to the MKI67 gene, and the second row corresponds to the APOE gene. The p-value for MKI67 is 5.92E-3, indicating that the gene is significantly associated with recurrence of breast cancer. In addition, the hazard ratio is greater than 1 indicating a higher risk of recurrence. In contrast, as expected, APOE has an insignificant p-value and a hazard ratio close to 1.

While this result is expected and confirms what is known in the literature, this example shows running analyses in GenePool, such as the survival analysis, can enable scientists to discover novel biomarkers predictive of survival. Lambda and API Gateway have enabled GenePool to calculate statistics in real time on all 20K genes in the genome, as well as millions of variants.

When a user submits an analysis, GenePool’s Analytics Engine (running on Amazon EC2) queries the GenePool database to get the appropriate genomic data for the requested patient samples. It then creates a large number of threads in order to execute API Gateway concurrently at scale, then maps the statistics results back to the corresponding genes and variants specific to the scientist’s requested analysis.

GenePool presents the results in the GenePool web UI. Here is an example of a GenePool visualization that plots the hazard ratio vs. the log of the p-value for all 20K genes. You can see that MKI67 has a higher hazard ratio and more significant p-value than APOE.

When calculating the survival statistics on all 20K genes, GenePool concurrently submits 100 requests of 20 genes each to API Gateway and Lambda. Each request takes about 2 seconds to execute, meaning that the survival statistics are calculated on all 20K genes in 20 seconds. These performance numbers are impressive especially considering that by using Lambda and API Gateway, Station X does not have to pay for idle compute costs, does not have to manage servers, and can scale dynamically as scientists run analyses in GenePool.


As a reminder, earlier in this post I mentioned that the AWS Business Associate Agreement (BAA) specifies that Lambda and API Gateway cannot be used to store and transmit PHI data. GenePool’s Analytics Engine is built on Amazon EC2 instances that are BAA compliant (Dedicated Instances, encrypted, etc.), and these are the only servers that store and manage patient data.

As you can see from above, when the Analytics Engine calls API Gateway, the patient data has been de-identified so that the patient name, ID, and sample ID are never transmitted. Instead, API Gateway and Lambda only receive the event, time-to-event, and expression values. As an extra precaution, GenePool never submits the gene name for the corresponding expression values. This ensures that we are able to use Lambda and API Gateway to calculate survival statistics while still complying with the AWS BAA and HIPAA.


In this post, I showed you how to build a Python-based Lambda package that includes R and rpy2. I also showed how GenePool uses Lambda in conjunction with API Gateway to scale R dynamically and dramatically improve the performance of calculating survival analysis statistics in real time on large scale cohorts, while not having to manage servers or pay for idle costs.

Finally, I demonstrated that calculating statistics at scale in real time in GenePool is enabling clinicians and researchers to identify key genes and variants associated with clinical outcomes, allowing them to monitor disease progression and discover new treatment options for patients.

If you have questions or suggestions, please comment below.

Thanks to Mia Champion, PhD , AWS Technical Business Development Manager, Scientific Computing who also contributed to this blog article.

Error Handling Patterns in Amazon API Gateway and AWS Lambda

by Bryan Liston | on | in Amazon API Gateway, AWS Lambda |

Ryan Green @ryangtweets
Software Development Engineer, API Gateway

A common API design practice is to define an explicit contract for the types of error responses that the API can produce. This allows API consumers to implement a robust error-handling mechanism which may include user feedback or automatic retries, improving the usability and reliability of applications consuming your API.

In addition, well-defined input and output contracts, including error outcomes, allows strongly-typed SDK client generation which further improves the application developer experience. Similarly, your API backend should be prepared to handle the various types of errors that may occur and/or surface them to the client via the API response.

This post discusses some recommended patterns and tips for handling error outcomes in your serverless API built on Amazon API Gateway and AWS Lambda.

HTTP status codes

In HTTP, error status codes are generally divided between client (4xx) and server (5xx) errors. It’s up to your API to determine which errors are appropriate for your application. The table shows some common patterns of basic API errors.

Type HTTP status code Description
Data Validation 400 (Bad Request) The client sends some invalid data in the request, for example, missing or incorrect content in the payload or parameters. Could also represent a generic client error.
Authentication/Authorization 401 (Unauthorized)
403 (Forbidden)
The client is not authenticated (403) or is not authorized to access the requested resource (401).
Invalid Resource 404 (Not Found) The client is attempting to access a resource that doesn’t exist.
Throttling 429 (Too Many Requests) The client is sending more than the allowed number of requests per unit time.
Dependency Issues 502 (Bad Gateway)
504 (Gateway Timeout)
A dependent service is throwing errors (502) or timing out (504).
Unhandled Errors 500 (Internal Server Error)
503 (Service Unavailable)
The service failed in an unexpected way (500), or is failing but is expected to recover (503).

For more information about HTTP server status codes, see RFC2616 section 10.5 on the W3C website.

Routing Lambda function errors to API Gateway HTTP responses

In API Gateway, AWS recommends that you model the various types of HTTP responses that your API method may produce, and define a mapping from the various error outcomes in your backend Lambda implementation to these HTTP responses.

In Lambda, function error messages are always surfaced in the “errorMessage” field in the response. Here’s how it’s populated in the various runtimes:

Node.js (4.3):

exports.handler = function(event, context, callback) {
    callback(new Error("the sky is falling!");


public class LambdaFunctionHandler implements RequestHandler<String, String> {
    public String handleRequest(String input, Context context) {
        throw new RuntimeException("the sky is falling!");


def lambda_handler(event, context):
    raise Exception('the sky is falling!')
Each results in the following Lambda response body:
  "errorMessage" : "the sky is falling!",

The routing of Lambda function errors to HTTP responses in API Gateway is achieved by pattern matching against this “errorMessage” field in the Lambda response. This allows various function errors to be routed to API responses with an appropriate HTTP status code and response body.

The Lambda function must exit with an error in order for the response pattern to be evaluated – it is not possible to “fake” an error response by simply returning an “errorMessage” field in a successful Lambda response.

Note: Lambda functions failing due to a service error, i.e. before the Lambda function code is executed, are not subject to the API Gateway routing mechanism. These types of errors include internal server errors, Lambda function or account throttling, or failure of Lambda to parse the request body. Generally, these types of errors are returned by API Gateway as a 500 response. AWS recommends using CloudWatch Logs to troubleshoot these types of errors.

API Gateway method response and integration response

In API Gateway, the various HTTP responses supported by your method are represented by method responses. These define an HTTP status code as well as a model schema for the expected shape of the payload for the response.

Model schemas are not required on method responses but they enable support for strongly-typed SDK generation. For example, the generated SDKs can unmarshall your API error responses into appropriate exception types which are thrown from the SDK client.

The mapping from a Lambda function error to an API Gateway method responseis defined by an integration response. An integration response defines a selection pattern used to match the Lambda function “errorMessage” and routes it to an associated method response.

Note: API Gateway uses Java pattern-style regexes for response mapping. For more information, see Pattern in the Oracle documentation.


Lambda function (Node.js 4.3):

exports.handler = (event, context, callback) => {
   callback ("the sky is falling!");

Lambda response body:

  "errorMessage": "the sky is falling!"

API Gateway integration response:

Selection pattern : “the sky is falling!”

Method response : 500

API Gateway response:

Status: 500

Response body:

  "errorMessage": "the sky is falling!"

In this example, API Gateway returns the Lambda response body verbatim, a.k.a. “passthrough”. It is possible to define mapping templates on the integration response to transform the Lambda response body into a different form for the API Gateway method response. This is useful when you want to format or filter the response seen by the API client.

When a Lambda function completes successfully or if none of the integration response patterns match the error message, API Gateway responds with the default integration response (typically, HTTP status 200). For this reason, it is imperative that you design your integration response patterns such that they capture every possible error outcome from your Lambda function. Because the evaluation order is undefined, it is unadvisable to define a “catch-all” (i.e., “.*”) error pattern which may be evaluated before the default response.

Common patterns for error handling in API Gateway and Lambda

There are many ways to structure your serverless API to handle error outcomes. The following section will identify two successful patterns to consider when designing your API.

Simple prefix-based

This common pattern uses a prefix in the Lambda error message string to route error types.

You would define a static set of prefixes, and create integration responses to capture each and route them to the appropriate method response. An example mapping might look like the following:

Prefix Method response status
[BadRequest] 400
[Forbidden] 403
[NotFound] 404
[InternalServerError] 500


Lambda function (NodeJS):

exports.handler = (event, context, callback) => {
    callback("[BadRequest] Validation error: Missing field 'name'");

Lambda output:

  "errorMessage": "[BadRequest] Validation error: Missing field 'name'"

API Gateway integration response:

Selection pattern: “^[BadRequest].*”

Method response: 400

API Gateway response:

Status: 400

Response body:

  "errorMessage": "[BadRequest] Validation error: Missing field 'name'"

If you don’t want to expose the error prefix to API consumers, you can perform string processing within a mapping template and strip the prefix from the errorMessage field.

Custom error object serialization

Lambda functions can return a custom error object serialized as a JSON string, and fields in this object can be used to route to the appropriate API Gateway method response.

This pattern uses a custom error object with an “httpStatus” field and defines an explicit 1-to-1 mapping from the value of this field to the method response.

An API Gateway mapping template is defined to deserialize the custom error object and build a custom response based on the fields in the Lambda error.

Lambda function (Node.js 4.3):

exports.handler = (event, context, callback) => {
    var myErrorObj = {
        errorType : "InternalServerError",
        httpStatus : 500,
        requestId : context.awsRequestId,
        message : "An unknown error has occurred. Please try again."

Lambda function (Java):

public class LambdaFunctionHandler implements RequestHandler<String, String> {
    public String handleRequest(String input, Context context) {

        Map<String, Object> errorPayload = new HashMap();
        errorPayload.put("errorType", "BadRequest");
        errorPayload.put("httpStatus", 400);
        errorPayload.put("requestId", context.getAwsRequestId());
        errorPayload.put("message", "An unknown error has occurred. Please try again.");
        String message = new ObjectMapper().writeValueAsString(errorPayload);
        throw new RuntimeException(message);

Note: this example uses Jackson ObjectMapper for JSON serialization. For more information, see ObjectMapper on the FasterXML website.

Lambda output:

  "errorMessage": "{\"errorType\":\"InternalServerError\",\"httpStatus\":500,\"requestId\":\"40cd9bf6-0819-11e6-98f3-415848322efb\",\"message\":\"An unknown error has occurred. Please try again.\"}"

Integration response:

Selection pattern: “.*httpStatus”:500.*”

Method response: 500

Mapping template:

#set ($errorMessageObj = $util.parseJson($input.path('$.errorMessage')))
  "type" : "$errorMessageObj.errorType",
  "message" : "$errorMessageObj.message",
  "request-id" : "$errorMessageObj.requestId"

Note: This template makes use of the $util.parseJson() function to parse elements from the custom Lambda error object. For more information, see Accessing the $util Variable.

API Gateway response:

Status: 500

Response body:

  "type": "InternalServerError",
  "message": " An unknown error has occurred. Please try again.",
  "request-id": "e308b7b7-081a-11e6-9ab9-117c7feffb09"

This is a full Swagger example of the custom error object serialization pattern. This can be imported directly into API Gateway for testing or as a starting point for your API.

  "swagger": "2.0",
  "info": {
    "version": "2016-04-21T23:52:49Z",
    "title": "Best practices for API error responses with API Gateway and Lambda"
  "schemes": [
  "paths": {
    "/lambda": {
      "get": {
        "consumes": [
        "produces": [
        "parameters": [
            "name": "status",
            "in": "query",
            "required": true,
            "type": "string"
        "responses": {
          "200": {
            "description": "200 response",
            "schema": {
              "$ref": "#/definitions/Empty"
          "400": {
            "description": "400 response",
            "schema": {
              "$ref": "#/definitions/Error"
          "403": {
            "description": "403 response",
            "schema": {
              "$ref": "#/definitions/Error"
          "404": {
            "description": "404 response",
            "schema": {
              "$ref": "#/definitions/Error"
          "500": {
            "description": "500 response",
            "schema": {
              "$ref": "#/definitions/Error"
        "x-amazon-apigateway-integration": {
          "responses": {
            "default": {
              "statusCode": "200"
            ".*httpStatus\\\":404.*": {
              "statusCode": "404",
              "responseTemplates": {
                "application/json": "#set ($errorMessageObj = $util.parseJson($input.path('$.errorMessage')))\n#set ($bodyObj = $util.parseJson($input.body))\n{\n  \"type\" : \"$errorMessageObj.errorType\",\n  \"message\" : \"$errorMessageObj.message\",\n  \"request-id\" : \"$errorMessageObj.requestId\"\n}"
            ".*httpStatus\\\":403.*": {
              "statusCode": "403",
              "responseTemplates": {
                "application/json": "#set ($errorMessageObj = $util.parseJson($input.path('$.errorMessage')))\n#set ($bodyObj = $util.parseJson($input.body))\n{\n  \"type\" : \"$errorMessageObj.errorType\",\n  \"message\" : \"$errorMessageObj.message\",\n  \"request-id\" : \"$errorMessageObj.requestId\"\n}"
            ".*httpStatus\\\":400.*": {
              "statusCode": "400",
              "responseTemplates": {
                "application/json": "#set ($errorMessageObj = $util.parseJson($input.path('$.errorMessage')))\n#set ($bodyObj = $util.parseJson($input.body))\n{\n  \"type\" : \"$errorMessageObj.errorType\",\n  \"message\" : \"$errorMessageObj.message\",\n  \"request-id\" : \"$errorMessageObj.requestId\"\n}"
            ".*httpStatus\\\":500.*": {
              "statusCode": "500",
              "responseTemplates": {
                "application/json": "#set ($errorMessageObj = $util.parseJson($input.path('$.errorMessage')))\n#set ($bodyObj = $util.parseJson($input.body))\n{\n  \"type\" : \"$errorMessageObj.errorType\",\n  \"message\" : \"$errorMessageObj.message\",\n  \"request-id\" : \"$errorMessageObj.requestId\"\n}"
          "httpMethod": "POST",
          "requestTemplates": {
            "application/json": "{\"failureStatus\" : $input.params('status')\n}"
          "uri": "arn:aws:apigateway:us-east-1:lambda:path/2015-03-31/functions/[MY_FUNCTION_ARN]/invocations",
          "type": "aws"
  "definitions": {
    "Empty": {
      "type": "object"
    "Error": {
      "type": "object",
      "properties": {
        "message": {
          "type": "string"
        "type": {
          "type": "string"
        "request-id": {
          "type": "string"


There are many ways to represent errors in your API. While API Gateway and Lambda provide the basic building blocks, it is helpful to follow some best practices when designing your API. This post highlights a few successful patterns that we have identified but we look forward to seeing other patterns emerge from our serverless API users.