Nuts and Bolts

Everyone has opinions and thoughts. Here are some of ours.

UFO and ECS Fargate Introduction Tutorial

This is an introductory guide to ufo, an ECS deployment tool, with AWS Fargate. Ufo helps you deploy Docker images to AWS ECS. With Fargate, you can run docker containers without having to manage servers, for an interesting “serverless” option.

UFO ECS Deployment Tool Introduction

This is an introductory guide to ufo, an ECS deployment tool. Ufo helps you deploy Docker images to AWS ECS quickly. One pretty neat thing about ufo is that it provides direct access and control to the ECS Task Definition. So you can customize your ECS container options to your heart’s content. We’ll also talk about some of the resources that ufo creates.

UFO Version 4 Release: Load Balancer Support

There are some pretty big changes for ufo version 4. Here’s what’s new:

  • Fuller CLI Toolkit Commands
  • Load Balancer Support
  • Updated Tutorial Guide
  • Security Groups
  • Improved Fargate Support
  • Extra Env Support
  • CloudFormation Implementation
  • Upgrade Guide

Heroku vs ECS Fargate vs EC2 On-Demand vs EC2 Spot Pricing Comparison

Recently upgraded ufo to add support for ECS Fargate. As part of this, I had a chance to take a look at the pricing for Fargate. Found out that ECS Fargate’s pricing is competitive to Heroku’s offering. The pricing makes a lot of sense because they offer a similar value proposition. We do not have to manage the servers.

Docker Crash Course Introduction Tutorial: Common Commands

Docker is kind of like git in a sense that there are only a few commands to learn to for it be useful. This tutorial focuses on the docker commands that I find myself most commonly use. This article assumes that you have a general idea of what docker is and have it installed and set up already. Hopefully, it serves as handy reference or cheatsheet for useful common docker commands.

AWS Step Functions Benefits and Disadvantages

Looking into AWS Step Functions. Here are some initial thoughts.

AWS Step Functions involves translating your logic into a declarative form. In this sense, it’s like CloudFormation. For some, the change in logical constructs can be a bit daunting at first. Here are some benefits and disadvantages.

AWS CloudFormation Declarative Infrastructure Code Tutorial

If you are working with AWS heavily, you should look into a powerful tool called CloudFormation. Taking the time to learn CloudFormation is an investment that is easily returned to you in the form of powerful automation. In this guide, we’ll provide a gentle introduction to CloudFormation, and by the end, you’ll have the skills to start using it in your own AWS workflow.

Best Way to Speed Up Docker Development Workflow

The common advice to speeding up your Docker development workflow focuses on reducing your Docker image size. At the surface, the logic makes a lot of sense. By making your Docker images smaller, you win. With smaller image sizes, there are fewer bytes to pull down and push up to the registry, thus saving you a boatload of time. Smaller images = solution. What the advice does not take into account is a precious resource: developer’s time.

Docker Image Layers Are Like Git Commits

One way to think about Docker image layers is to think of them as git commits. While the two are technically different, this article uses this analogy to point out an interesting commonality between both of them.

3 SSH tips: Ssh-agent, Tunnel, and Escaping from the Dead

There are a ton of ssh tips out there, and I thought that I surface 3 of them. Here are 3 ssh tips that I’ve learned over the years. Hope you find them useful 🎉

Lono Xgraph - Visualizing the CloudFormation Template Dependency Graph

It can be difficult to understand the CloudFormation resources and their dependencies when working with a complicated CloudFormation template. We’ll run through some commands to try to help understand their dependencies.

Lono Summary - Summarize CloudFormation Template

In the previous posts, we went over some jq tips with CloudFormation. We used jq to quickly summarize CloudFormation template parameters and resources. lono summary automates that process and makes the command short and sweet.

Summarize CloudFormation Required Parameters with jq

Shortly after the last video CloudFormation Templates and jq Tips, I wanted to know what the required parameters in a CloudFormation template were. This is also an easy task with jq. I’ll show you how to use jq to quickly summarize the required and optional parameters in a CloudFormation template in this post. It’s a one-liner 😁

JSON to YAML One Liner

I don’t remember exactly where I got these one-liners from anymore. It’s been in my expander for a while. Here are useful oneliners to convert JSON to YAML and vice versa.

Summarize CloudFormation Resources with jq Tip

I’ll go over a useful way to summarize CloudFormation templates resources with jq. This is useful when you are looking at a CloudFormation template and trying to understand it. We’ll download an example CloudFormation template and use run through some useful jq commands summarize the resources defined in a CloudFormation template. Note, I’ll only show the output that is useful for understanding.

Introduction to the lono import Command

Embarrassingly, I’ve been converting raw CloudFormation templates to lono CloudFormation templates manually. Probably one of the reasons why it’s been neglected is because this process is so simple, but it is ripe for automation. This should have been done this a long ago.

Build Thor CLI Project in Under a Second

Update 9/5/2018: The video is old and demos the older version of the tool called thor_template. The new tool is called cli-template. I’ve updated the blog post but not the video.

These two tools seem pretty cool too:

Thanks @eashman for showing me the tools.


In this post, we’ll build a CLI project that is based on Thor in under a second.

The cli-template tool builds a fully functional CLI command based on Thor. The commands immediately work and there are even specs.

AWS Console Menu Shortcuts Tip

Learn about the shortcuts menu tray at the top of the AWS Console. Jam in as many shortcuts as you can 🎉

How To Run Migrations on AWS ECS and Other One off Tasks

Once a developer came up to me and told me that he was ready to deploy, but the deploy required migrations be run. He asked me an innocent question, how should he run migrations. Embarrassingly, because we were still evolving our tooling for the new infrastructure, we did not have a process for this simple task. We came up with an ad-hoc process that was honestly pretty terrible. It went like this:

How AWS VPC Works Intro

I’ll provide a basic introduction to the mysterious VPC world. I’ll explain terms using various diagrams. We’ll also build a simple VPC network out manually to help understand VPCs.

Gentle Introduction to How AWS ECS Works with Example Tutorial

ECS is the AWS Docker container service that handles the orchestration and provisioning of Docker containers. This is a beginner level introduction to AWS ECS. I’ve seen some nightmare posts and some glowing reviews about the ECS service, so I knew it was going to interesting to get my hands dirty and see what ECS was all about.

AWS ECS Terms Introduction Tutorial

Most of the time when someone introduces ECS to you it goes something like this. Here are all the terms:

Lono CloudFormation Framework Version 3 Release - Layering, Shared Variables, Nested Stacks, Format Detection, Custom Helpers, Source Name Convention, Settings Support

I’m excited to say that a ton of great features has been added to lono with this major version bump. At this point, lono has grown to become a framework for managing CloudFormation templates. Let jump right into it and cover the major improvements.

BoltOps Tooling and Software Design Philosophy

Software is often more of an art form than it is a science. This is one of the reasons software tends to vary substantially between tools and developers. By following guidelines and design patterns though it can help keep the code consistent and clean. This allows the code to be understandable between engineers and allow them to move between tools efficiently. In this post, I’ll talk about what some of the best practices and software design patterns followed in the BoltOps tools.

The 10X, 1X, 0X and -X Engineer

The 10X Engineer

“He’s a 10X engineer.” I remember hearing this expression from recruiters and product managers a few years ago. It’s a funny term but quickly conveys the point. A 10X engineer is someone who can get 10X more done than the average engineer.

Let’s think through this logically. How many hours are there in a normal working day? 8 hours. So does a 10X engineer work 80 hours a day? No, of course not. That’s silly and impossible to do unless you have a tardis. So it’s not about how much you work but how you focus your efforts. A 10X engineer is smarter about how about he choses to spend his time and is better able to focus on higher leveraged activities. He or she focuses on things that make the most difference. This is nicely explained in Edmond Lau’s The Effective Engineer book, which I recommend.

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