Cloud Brigade Accelerates Full-Stack App Development with AWS Amplify
Since 2005, Cloud Brigade has served as a strategic IT advisor and provider of custom business and technical services for companies of all sizes. Their team develops software solutions with a particular focus on advanced machine learning, artificial intelligence, and Internet of Things (IoT) projects.
Previously, the team followed a monolithic approach to develop custom web and mobile apps, which was difficult to scale.
Accelerating Application Development
In 2020, Cloud Brigade’s software development team adopted AWS Amplify to accelerate their application development, both for their internal projects and for developing web and mobile applications on behalf of their clients. “We were already using AWS services and we were tired of stitching them together,” said Chris Miller, Cloud Brigade CEO. “We needed a modern approach for our application development that worked out of the box and allowed us to scale easily.”
Initially, the team built the software as a service (SaaS) application, Priorly, for internal use before launching it for external customers. The time tracking and productivity platform automatically tracks daily activities and reports on them. Amplify was used to configure the application’s backend with data, auth, storage, and AI/ML capabilities to generate a ledger of activities which can be integrated with a customer’s billing system for invoicing and identifying distractions and bottlenecks. To achieve this, the team built a data pipeline in React with integrated APIs, Lambda, Amazon Simple Storage (Amazon S3), DynamoDB, and Amplify, which would quickly and efficiently support data at scale. “We were able to achieve simple configuration and deployment with AWS Amplify,” says Miller. “Building a secure and performant app backend was easy and simple for us, and allowed us to easily add micro-services and new features while supporting our application growth.”
Rapid Prototyping and Iteration
Cloud Brigade now regularly uses Amplify for client projects. Using Amplify Studio, Cloud Brigade’s team of UX designers and developers achieve a streamlined workflow and better collaboration. Developers can generate responsive layouts and clickable prototypes for UI/UX validation, working from Amplify Studio’s library of pre-built UI components. Or, they can automatically convert their UX design team’s Figma component designs to clean React code using Amplify Studio’s design-to-code plugin, which can be further modified. “We are able to speed up the development process through automated code generation, but we can still maintain full control over our code,” says Miller. “Our developers don’t need to reinvent the wheel, and they can focus on the features that make an application unique instead.”
A typical web application architecture includes Amplify Hosting for web application hosting and Amplify Studio/CLI for frontend UI and backend development. Under the hood, Amplify’s backend leverages Amazon Simple Storage (Amazon S3) for application file storage and AWS AppSync, a managed GraphQL and Pub/Sub API service, for connecting applications to app data stored in DynamoDB. In this case, the app data stored in DynamoDB is streamed to AWS Lambda for further processing, such as integrating with an existing infrastructure.
Simple Application Deployment, Built to Scale
Using Amplify and Amplify Studio for their frontend UI application development, Cloud Brigade can flexibly design and develop clean UIs through a centralized workflow. Previously, designers and developers used disparate tools. Designers created responsive designs, and developers were responsible for authoring the frontend UI. Because they were developing for responsiveness, they would previously have three different designs that would need to be developed separately for web, mobile, and tablet. “Our developers were playing whack-a-mole with implementing and iterating on designs,” says Miller. “With Amplify, we’re more efficient. We can reduce the amount of refactoring needed and error rates when implementing designs. We get pixel-perfect, flexible, and fully customizable designs quickly.”
With the ability to create a frontend UI, configure a backend, and bind the two together in Amplify, the Cloud Brigade team can complete a SaaS app for clients in less time. This has enabled the team to build more robust features into their applications more efficiently, leading to cost savings for their clients. “We get simple deployments, with automatic provisioning of AWS services to quickly build a backend,” says Miller.
Cloud Brigade is able to leverage the AWS platform and ensure that applications are scalable. “If we were building React applications on our own, we would be responsible for ensuring that they are scalable. AWS handles the scaling for us. We can quickly build features into our backend during earlier phases because of the economies. It’s a win-win for our team and our clients.”