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aws-lambda-stream
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aws-lambda-stream

Create stream processors with AWS Lambda functions

by John Gilbert

0.22.0 (see all)License:MITTypeScript:Not Found
npm i aws-lambda-stream
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aws-lambda-stream

Create stream processors with AWS Lambda functions.

The event signature for many Lambda functions is an array containing a micro-batch of event.Records. Functional Reactive Programming (FRP) is the cleanest approach for processing these streams. This library provides a light-weight framework for creating these stream processors. The underlying streaming library is Highland.js, replete with features like filter, map, reduce, backpressure, batching, parallel processing and more.

Support is provided for AWS EventBridge, Kinesis, DynamoDB Streams and more.

Note: The original code base has been used in production for years. This specific open-sourced version is in BETA while the various features are ported and documented.

Install

npm install aws-lambda-stream --save

Typical Scenario

The following diagram depicts a tyipcal scenario for using this library to implement event sourcing and cqrs patterns. State changes in the database of Service X trigger the publication of domain events and Service Y consumes the events and caches the desired data in materialized views to support its requirements.

Basic Usage

The following examples show how to implement basic handler functions for consuming events from a Kinesis stream and a DynamoDB Stream. A key thing to note is that the code you see here is responsible for assembling the steps in the stream pipeline. The final step, toPromise returns a Promise from the handler function. Then the promise starts consuming from the stream and the data starts flowing through the steps. The data is pulled through the steps, which provides natural backpressure (see blow). The promise will resolve once all the data has passed through all the stream steps or reject when an unhandled error is encountered.

Example: Trigger Function

This example processes a DynamoDB Stream and publishes domain events to an EventBridge bus, which routes the events to the likes of a Kinesis stream. The details are explained below.

import { fromDynamodb, publishToEventBridge as publish, toPromise } from 'aws-lambda-stream';

export const handler = async (event) =>
  fromDynamodb(event)
    .map(toEvent)
    .through(publish({ batchSize: 25 }))
    .through(toPromise);

Example: Listener Function

This example processes a Kinesis stream and materializes the data in a single DynamoDB table. The details are explained below.

import { fromKinesis, update, toPromise } from 'aws-lambda-stream';

export const handler = async (event) =>
  fromKinesis(event)
    .filter(onEventType)
    .map(toUpdateRequest)
    .through(update({ parallel: 4 }))
    .through(toPromise);

Creating a stream from a lambda event

The first step of a stream processor transforms the incoming Records into a stream, like such: _(event.Records). The various from functions, such as fromKinesis, fromDynamodb and fromEventBridge, normialize the records into a standard Event format. The output is a stream of UnitOfWork objects.

UnitOfWork Type (aka uow)

Think of a uow as an immutable object that represents the scope of a set of variables passing through the stream. More so than ever, we should not use global variables in stream processors. Your processor steps will add new variables to the uow for use by downstream steps (see _Mapping below). This _scoping is crucial when we leverage the parallel processing and pipeline features discussed below.

interface UnitOfWork {
  record: any;
  event?: Event;
  batch?: UnitOfWork[];
}
  • record - the original record
  • event - the standardized event
  • batch - an array of uow that should succeed or fail together (see Batching and Grouping below)

Event Type

The various streaming and messaging channels each have their own formats. We want to decouple the processoring logic from the choice of these technologies. Thus all published events conform to the following Event format. This also provides for polymorphic-like processing. This standard format is also leveraged in the event-lake and micro-event-store features.

interface Event {
  id: string;
  type: string;
  timestamp: number;
  partitionKey?: string;
  tags: { [key: string]: string | number };
  <entity>: any;
  raw?: any;
  eem?: any;
}
  • id - a unique deterministic value
  • type - generally the namespace, domain entity and action performed
  • timestamp - epoch value when the action was performed
  • partitionKey - generally the entity id or correlation id to ensure related events can be processed together
  • tags - a generic place for routing information. A standard set of values is always included, such as account, region, stage, source, functionname and pipeline.
  • <entity> - a canonical entity that is specific to the event type. This is the contract that must be held backwards compatible. The name of this field is usually the lowerCamelCase name of the entity type, such as thing for Thing.
  • raw - this is the raw data and format produced by the source of the event. This is included so that the event-lake can form a complete audit with no lost information. This is not guaranteed to be backwards compatible, so use at your own risk.
  • eem - envelope encryption metadata (see _Encryption below)_

Filters

For a variety of reasons, we generally multiplex many event types through the same stream. I discuss this in detail in the following post: Stream Inversion & Topology. Thus, we use filter steps with functions like onEventType to focus in on the event types of interest and perform content based routing in general.

// all event types starting with `thing-`
const onEventType = uow =>
  uow.event.type.match(/thing-*/);

Mapping

Many stream processor steps map the incoming data to the format needed downstream. The results of the mapping are adorned to the uow as a new variable. The uow must be immutable, so we return a new uow by cloning the original uow with the spread operator and adorning the additional variable. There are various utils provided to assist (see below).

.map((uow) => ({
  ...uow,
  variableName: {
    // mapping logic here
  }
}))

This is the function used in the Listener Function example above.

import { updateExpression, timestampCondition } from 'aws-lambda-stream';

const toUpdateRequest = (uow) => ({
  ...uow,
  updateRequest: { // variable expected by `update` util
    Key: {
      pk: uow.event.thing.id,
      sk: 'thing',
    },
    ...updateExpression({
      ...uow.event.thing,
      discriminator: 'thing',
      timestamp: uow.event.timestamp,
    }),
    ...timestampCondition(),
  }
});

This is the function used in the Trigger Function example above.

const toEvent = (uow) => ({
  ...uow,
  event: { // variable expected by the `publish` util
    ...event,
    thing: uow.event.raw.new, // canonical
  }
});

Note: It is best to perform mapping in a separate upstream step from the step that will perform the async-non-blocking-io to help maximize the potential for concurrent processing. (aka cooperative programming)

Connectors

At the end of a stream processor there is usually a sink step that persists the results to a datastore or another stream. These external calls are wrapped in thin Connector classes so that they can be easily mocked for unit testing.

These connectors are then wrapped with utility functions, such as update and publish, to integrate them into the streaming framework. For example, the promise returned from the connector is normalized to a stream, fault handling is provided and features such as parallel and batch are utilized.

These utility functions leverage currying to override default configuration settings, such as the batchSize and the number of parallel asyn-non-blocking-io executions.

Here is the example of using the update function.

import { update, toPromise } from 'aws-lambda-stream';

...
  .through(update({ parallel: 4 }))
  .through(toPromise);

Here is the example of using the publish function.

import { publishToEventBridge as publish, toPromise } from 'aws-lambda-stream';
  ...
  .through(publish({ batchSize: 25 }))
  .through(toPromise);

Faults

When there is an unhandled error in a Kinesis or DynamoDB stream processor, Lambda will continuously retry the function until the problem is either resolved or the event(s) in question expire(s). For transient errors, such as throttling, this may be the best course of action, because the problem may self-heal. However, if there is a poison event then we want to set it aside, by publishing a fault event, so that the other events can be processed. I refer to this as the Stream Circuit Breaker pattern.

Here is the definition of a fault event.

export const FAULT_EVENT_TYPE: string = 'fault';

interface FaultEvent extends Event {
  err: {
    name: string;
    message: string;
    stack: string;
  };
  uow: UnitOfWork;
}
  • err - contains the error information
  • uow - contains the state of the variables in the uow when the error happened

When an error is thrown in a Highland.js stream, the error will skip over all the remaining steps until it is either caught by an errors step or it reaches the end of the stream and all processing stops with the error.

When you want to handle a poison event and raise a fault event then simply catch the error, adorn the current uow to the error and rethrow the error. Several utilities are provided to assist: throwFault for standard try/catch, rejectWithFault for promises, and faulty and faultyAsync are function wrappers.

Here is an example of using throwFault.

try {
  ...
} catch (err) {
  throwFault(err);
}

export const throwFault = (uow) => (err) => {
  // adorn the troubled uow
  // for processing in the errors handler
  err.uow = uow;
  throw err;
};

Then we need to setup the faults errors function and the flushFaults stream. Fault handling is already included when using the pipelines feature (see below).

import { faults, flushFaults, toPromise } from 'aws-lambda-stream';
  ...
  .errors(faults)
  .through(flushFaults(opt))
  .through(toPromise);

The faults function tests to see if the err has a uow adorned. If so then it buffers a fault event. The flushFaults stream will published all the buffered fault events once all events in the batch have been processed. This ensures that the fault events are not prematurely published in case an unhandled error occurs later in the batch.

I plan to open source a fault-monitor service and the aws-lambda-stream-cli. The monitor stores the fault events in S3. The cli supports resubmitting the poison events to the function that raised the fault.

Pipelines

As mentioned above, we are multiplexing many event types through a single stream for a variety of good reasons. Therefore, we want to maximize the utilization of each function invocation by acting on as many events as possible. However, we also want to maintain good clean separation of the processing logic for these different event types.

The Highland.js library allows us to fork streams, passing each fork/observer through a pipeline and merge the streams back together where they can share common tail logic like fault handling.

Each pipeline is implemented and tested separately. Each is usually defined in its own module/file.

Here is an example of a pipeline. They are curried functions that first receive options during initialize and then the forked stream during assemble (see below). During assemble they add the desired steps to the stream. Pipelines typically start with one or more filter steps to indicate which events the steps apply to.

const pipeline1 = (options) => (stream) => stream
  .filter(onEventType)
  .tap(uow => options.debug('%j', uow))
  .map(toUpdateRequest)
  .through(update({ parallel: 4 }));

export default pipeline1;

Here is an example of a handler function that uses pipelines.

import { initialize, defaultOptions, fromKinesis, toPromise } from 'aws-lambda-stream';

import pipeline1 from './pipeline1';
import pipeline2 from './pipeline2';

const PIPELINES = {
  pipeline1,
  pipeline2,
};

const OPTIONS = { ...defaultOptions, ... };

export const handler = async (event) =>
  initialize(PIPELINES, OPTIONS)
    .assemble(fromKinesis(event))
    .through(toPromise);
  1. First we initialize the pipelines with any options.
  2. Then we assemble all pipelines into a forked stream.
  3. And finally the processing of the events through the pipelines is started by toPromise.
  4. The data fans out through all the pipelines and the processing concludes when all the units of work have flowed through and merged back together.

But take care to assemble a cohesive set of pipelines into a single function. For example, a listener function in a BFF service will typically consume events from Kinesis and the various pipelines will materialize different entities from the events into a DynamoDB table to implement the CQRS pattern. Then the trigger function of the BFF service will consume events from the DynamoDB table, as mutations are invoked in the graphql function, and these pipelines will publish events to the Kinesis stream to implement the Event Sourcing pattern. (see Flavors below)

Pipelines also help optimize utilization by giving a function more things to do while it waits on async-non-blocking-io calls (see Parallel below). Run test/unit/pipelines/coop.test.js to see an example of cooperative programming in action.

Flavors

Many of the pipelines we write follow the exact same steps and only the filters and data mapping details are different. We can package these pipeline flavors into reusable pipelines that can be configured with rules.

The following flavors are included and you can package your own into libaries.

  • materialize - used in listener functions to materialize an entity from an event into a DynamoDB single table
  • cdc - used in trigger functions to publish events to Kinesis as entities are maintained in a DynamoDB single table
  • collect - used in listener functions to collect events in a micro event store for complex event processing
  • correlate - used in trigger functions to correlate related events for complex event processing
  • evaluate - used in trigger functions to run rules against correlated events and produce higher-order events
  • expire - used in trigger functions to emit expired events when a TTL is reacted
  • more to be ported soon

Here is an example of initializing pipelines from rules. Note that you can initialize one-off pipelines along side rule-driven pipelines.

import { initializeFrom } from 'aws-lambda-stream';

const PIPELINES = {
  pipeline1,
  pipeline2,
  ...initializeFrom(RULES),
};

Here are some example rules. The id, flavor, and eventType fields are required. The remaining fields are defined by the specified pipeline flavor. You can define functions inline, but it is best to implement and unit test them separately.

import materialize from 'aws-lambda-stream';

const RULES = [
  {
    id: 'p1',
    flavor: materialize,
    eventType: /thing-(created|updated)/,
    toUpdateRequest,
  },
  {
    id: 'p2',
    flavor: materialize,
    eventType: 'thing-deleted',
    toUpdateRequest: toSoftDeleteUpdateRequest,
  },
  {
    id: 'p3',
    flavor: materialize,
    eventType: ['something-created', 'something-updated'],
    toUpdateRequest: (uow) => ({ ... }),
  },
];
  • id - is a unqiue string
  • flavor - the function that implements the pipeline flavor
  • eventType - a regex, string or array of strings used to filter on event type
  • toUpdateRequest - is a mapping function expected by the materialize pipeline flavor

Logging

The debug library is used for logging. When using pipelines, each pipeline is given its own instance and it is passed in with the pipeline configuration options and it is attached to the uow for easy access. They are named after the pipelines with a pl: prefix.

This turns on debug for all pipelines.

cli> DEBUG=pl:*

This turns on debug for a specific pipeline.

cli> DEBUG=pl:pipeline2

Various print utilities are provided, such as: printStartPipeline and printEndPipeline.

Utilities

Here are some highlights of utiltities that are available in this library or Highland.js.

Backpressure

Unlike imperative programming, functional reactive programming with streams provides natural backpressure because it is pull oriented. In other words, a slow downstream step will not pull the next upstream record until it is finished processing the current record. This helps us avoid overwhelming downstream services and systems.

However, this does not hold true for services, like DynamoDB, that return throttling errors. In these cases we can use the Highland.js rateLimit feature to provide explicit backpressure.

  ...
  .rateLimit(2, 100) // 2 per 100ms
  .through(update)
  ...

Parallel

Asynchronous Non Blocking IO is probably the most important feature for optimizing throughput. The Highland.js parallel feature allows us to take full control. When using this feature, upstream steps will continue to be executed while up to N asyc requests are waiting for responses. This feature along with pipelines allows us to optimize the utilization of every lambda invocation.

  ...
  .map(makeSomeAsyncCall)
  .parallel(8)
  ...

This is usually the first parameter I tweak when tuning a function. Environment variables, such as UPDATE_PARALLEL and PARALLEL are used for experimenting with different settings.

Here is a post on queuing theory that helps put this in perspective: What happens when you add another teller?

This feature is baked into the DynamoDB update and Kinesis publish utilities.

Batching

Many aws-sdk operations support batching multiple requests into a single call. This can help increase throughput by reducing aggregate network latency.

The Highland.js batch feature allows us to easily collect a batch of requests. The toBatchUow utility provided by this library formats these into a batch unit of work so that we can easily raise a fault for a batch and resubmit the batch.

  ...
  .batch(10)
  .map(toBatchUow)
  .map(makeSomeAsyncCall)
  ...

However, be aware that most of the aws-sdk batch apis do not succeed or fail as a unit. Therefore you either have to selectively retry the failed requests and/or ensure that these calls are idempotent. Therefore I usually try to first optimize using the parellel feature and then move onto batch if needs be.

I will look at adding selective retry as a feature of this library.

Grouping / Reducing

Another way to increase throughput is by grouping related events and thereby reducing the number external calls you will need to make. The Highland.js group feature allows us to easily group related records. The toGroupUows utility provided by this library formats these into batched units of work so that we can easily raise a fault for a group and resubmit the group.

  ...
  .group(uow => uow.event.partitionKey)
  .flatMap(toGroupUows)
  ...

Other

There are various other utilities in the utils folder.

  • now - wraps Date.now() so that it can be easily mocked in unit tests
  • ttl - calculates ttl based on a start epoch and a number of days

EventBridge Support

  • fromEventBridge - creates a stream from an EventBridge record
    • toEventBridgeRecord - is a test helper for creating an EventBridge record from a test event
  • Connector - connector for the EventBridge SDK
  • publishToEventBridge - stream steps for publishing events to EventBridge

Note: The default configuration, as defined in utils/opt, is to publisher to an AWS EventBridge custom bus and route the events to one or more streams or other targets. This approach, referred to as the Event Hub, provides maximum flexibility. The bus also routes all events to an Event Lake via AWS Firehose to create a perpetual audit of all events.

Kinesis Support

  • fromKinesis - creates a stream from Kinesis records
    • toKinesisRecords - is a test helper for creating Kinesis records from test events
  • Connector - connector for the Kinesis SDK
  • publishToKinesis - stream steps for publishing events to Kinesis

DynamoDB Support

  • fromDynamodb - creates a stream from DynamoDB Stream records
    • toDynamodbRecords - is a test helper for creating DynamoDB Stream records from test events
  • Connector - connector for the DynamoDB SDK
  • update - stream steps for updating rows in a single DynamoDB table
  • updateExpression - creates an expression from a plain old json object
  • timestampCondition - creates an expression for performing inverse oplocks

In addition:

  • single table support is provided in fromDynamodb based on the discriminator field
  • latching support is provided in fromDynamodb based on the latched field
  • soft delete support is provided in fromDynamodb based on the deleted field
  • global table support is provided in fromDynamodb based on the aws:rep:updateregion field
    • note this may not be needed in the latest version of global tables

Look for future blog posts on dynamodb single tables, latching, soft-deletes and oplock-based-joins.

S3 Support

These features are intended for implementing intra-service logic.

  • fromS3 - creates a stream from an S3 notification
    • toS3Records - is a test helper for creating S3 records from test messages
  • Connector - connector for the S3 SDK
  • putObjectToS3 - stream steps to put an object in a bucket

SNS Support

These features are intended for implementing intra-service logic.

  • fromSns - creates a stream from an SNS topic
    • toSnsRecords - is a test helper for creating SNS records from test messages
  • Connector - connector for the SNS SDK
  • publishToSns - stream steps to publish a message to a topic

SQS Support

These features are intended for implementing intra-service logic. They are frequently combined with the SNS and S3 support. See the unit tests for an example of S3 wrapped in SNS wrapped in SQS.

  • fromSqs - creates a stream from an SQS queue
    • toSqsRecords - is a test helper for creating SQS records from test messages
  • Connector - connector for the SQS SDK
  • sendToSqs - stream steps to send a message to a queue

Encryption Support

Metrics Support

Validation

The following links contain additional information:

  • Highland.js documentation
  • My Blog covers many topics such as System Wide Event Sourcing & CQRS

Project Templates

The following project templates are provided to help get your event platform up and running:

  • event-hub
  • event-lake-s3
  • and more coming...

Create your own project using the Serverless Framework, such as: sls create --template-url https://github.com/jgilbert01/aws-lambda-stream/tree/master/templates/event-hub --path myprefix-event-hub

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