Tag: Amazon DynamoDB


Introducing Amazon DynamoDB Expression Builder in the AWS SDK for Go

This post was authored by Hajime Hayano.

The v1.11.0 release of the AWS SDK for Go adds a new expression package that enables you to create Amazon DynamoDB Expressions using statically typed builders. The expression package abstracts away the low-level detail of using DynamoDB Expressions and simplifies the process of using DynamoDB Expressions in DynamoDB Operations. In this blog post, we explain how to use the expression package.

In earlier versions of the AWS SDK for Go, you had to explicitly declare the member fields of the DynamoDB Operation input structs, such as QueryInput and UpdateItemInput. That meant the syntax and rules of DynamoDB Expressions were up to you to figure out. The goal of the expression package is to create the formatted DynamoDB Expression strings under the hood thus simplifying the process of using DynamoDB Expressions. The following example shows the verbosity of writing DynamoDB Expressions by hand.

input := &dynamodb.ScanInput{
    ExpressionAttributeNames: map[string]*string{
        "#AT": aws.String("AlbumTitle"),
        "#ST": aws.String("SongTitle"),
    },
    ExpressionAttributeValues: map[string]*dynamodb.AttributeValue{
        ":a": {
            S: aws.String("No One You Know"),
        },
    },
    FilterExpression:     aws.String("Artist = :a"),
    ProjectionExpression: aws.String("#ST, #AT"),
    TableName:            aws.String("Music"),
}

Representing DynamoDB Expressions

DynamoDB Expressions are represented by static builder types in the expression package. These builders, like ConditionBuilder and UpdateBuilder, are created in the package using a builder pattern. The static typing of the builders allows compile-time checks on the syntax of the DynamoDB Expressions that are being created. The following example shows how to create a builder that represents a FilterExpression and a ProjectionExpression.

filt := expression.Name("Artist").Equal(expression.Value("No One You Know"))
// let :a be an ExpressionAttributeValue representing the string "No One You Know"
// equivalent FilterExpression: "Artist = :a"

proj := expression.NamesList(
    expression.Name("SongTitle"),
    expression.Name("AlbumTitle"),
)
// equivalent ProjectionExpression: "SongTitle, AlbumTitle"

In this example, the variable filt represents a FilterExpression. Notice that DynamoDB item attributes are represented using the function Name() and DynamoDB item values are similarly represented using the function Value(). In this context, the string "Artist" represents the name of the item attribute that we want to evaluate, and the string "No One You Know" represents the value we want to evaluate the item attribute against. You specify the relationship between the two operands by using the method Equal().

Similarly, the variable proj represents a ProjectionExpression. The list of item attribute names comprising the ProjectionExpression are specified as arguments to the function NamesList(). The expression package uses the type safety of Go and, if an item value is to be used as an argument to the function NamesList(), a compile time error is returned. The pattern of representing DynamoDB Expressions by indicating relationships between operands with functions is consistent throughout the whole expression package.

Creating an Expression

The Expression type is the core of the expression package. An Expression represents a collection of DynamoDB Expressions with getter methods, such as Condition() and Projection(), used to retrieve specific formatted DynamoDB Expression strings. The following example shows how to create an Expression.

filt := expression.Name("Artist").Equal(expression.Value("No One You Know"))
proj := expression.NamesList(
    expression.Name("SongTitle"),
    expression.Name("AlbumTitle"),
)

expr, err := expression.NewBuilder().
    WithFilter(filt).
    WithProjection(proj).
    Build()
if err != nil {
  fmt.Println(err)
}

In this example, the variable expr is an instance of an Expression type. An Expression is built using a builder pattern. First, a new Builder is initialized by the NewBuilder() function. Then, types representing DynamoDB Expressions are added to the Builder by the WithFilter() and WithProjection() methods. The Build() method returns an instance of an Expression and an error. The error is either an InvalidParameterError or an UnsetParameterError.

There is no limit to the number of different kinds of DynamoDB Expressions that you can add to the Builder, but adding the same type of DynamoDB Expression will overwrite the previous DynamoDB Expression. The following example shows a specific instance of this problem.

cond1 := expression.Name("foo").Equal(expression.Value(5))
cond2 := expression.Name("bar").Equal(expression.Value(6))
expr, err := expression.NewBuilder().
    WithCondition(cond1).
    WithCondition(cond2).
    Build()
if err != nil {
  fmt.Println(err)
}

This example shows that the second call of WithCondition() overwrites the first call.

Filling in the fields of a DynamoDB Scan API

The following example shows how to use an Expression to fill in the member fields of a DynamoDB Operation API.

filt := expression.Name("Artist").Equal(expression.Value("No One You Know"))
proj := expression.NamesList(
    expression.Name("SongTitle"),
    expression.Name("AlbumTitle"),
)
expr, err := expression.NewBuilder().
    WithFilter(filt).
    WithProjection(proj).
    Build()
if err != nil {
  fmt.Println(err)
}

input := &dynamodb.ScanInput{
  ExpressionAttributeNames:  expr.Names(),
  ExpressionAttributeValues: expr.Values(),
  FilterExpression:          expr.Filter(),
  ProjectionExpression:      expr.Projection(),
  TableName:                 aws.String("Music"),
}

In this example, the getter methods of the Expression type are used to get the formatted DynamoDB Expression strings. When using Expression, you must always assign the ExpressionAttributeNames and ExpressionAttributeValues member fields of the DynamoDB API because all item attribute names and values are aliased. That means that if the ExpressionAttributeNames and ExpressionAttributeValues members are not assigned with the corresponding Names() and Values() methods, the DynamoDB operation will run into a logic error.

If you need a starting point, check out the working example in the AWS SDK for Go.

Overall, the expression package makes using the DynamoDB Expressions clean and simple. The complicated syntax and rules of DynamoDB Expressions are abstracted away so you no longer have to worry about them!