Thursday, June 13, 2024

Infrastructure as Code development with Amazon CodeWhisperer | Amazon Web Services

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At re:Invent in 2023, AWS announced Infrastructure as Code (IaC) support for Amazon CodeWhisperer. CodeWhisperer is an AI-powered productivity tool for the IDE and command line that helps software developers to quickly and efficiently create cloud applications to run on AWS. Languages currently supported for IaC are YAML and JSON for AWS CloudFormation, Typescript and Python for AWS CDK, and HCL for HashiCorp Terraform. In addition to providing code recommendations in the editor, CodeWhisperer also features a security scanner that alerts the developer to potentially insecure infrastructure code, and offers suggested fixes than can be applied with a single click.

In this post, we will walk you through some common scenarios and show you how to get the most out of CodeWhisperer in the IDE. CodeWhisperer is supported by several IDEs, such as Visual Studio Code and JetBrains. For the purposes of this post, we’ll focus on Visual Studio Code. There are a few things that you need to follow along with the examples, listed in the prerequisites section below.

Prerequisites

CloudFormation

Now that you have the toolkit configured, open a new source file with the yaml extension. Since YAML files can represent a wide variety of different configuration file types, it helps to add the AWSTemplateFormatVersion: '2010-09-09' header to the file to let CodeWhisperer know that you are editing a CloudFormation file. Just typing the first few characters of that header is likely to result in a recommendation from CodeWhisperer. Press TAB to accept recommendations and Escape to ignore them.

AWSTemplateFormatVersion header

If you have a good idea about the various resources you want to include in your template, include them in a top level Description field. This will help CodeWhisperer to understand the relationships between the resources you will create in the file. In the example below, we describe the stack we want as a “VPC with public and private subnets”. You can be more descriptive if you want, using a multi-line YAML string to add more specific details about the resources you want to create.

VPC1

Creating a CloudFormation template with a description

After accepting that recommendation for the parameters, you can continue to create resources.

VPC2

Creating CloudFormation resources

You can also trigger recommendations with inline comments and descriptive logical IDs if you want to create one resource at a time. The more code you have in the file, the more CodeWhisperer will understand from context what you are trying to achieve.

CDK

It’s also possible to create CDK code using CodeWhisperer. In the example below, we started with a CDK project using cdk init, wrote a few lines of code to create a VPC in a TypeScript file, and CodeWhisperer proposed some code suggestions using what we started to write. After accepting the suggestion, it is possible to customize the code to fit your needs. CodeWhisperer will learn from your coding style and make more precise suggestions as you add more code to the project.

CDK

Create a CDK stack

You can choose whether you want to get suggestions that include code with references with the professional version of CodeWhisperer. If you choose to get the references, you can find them in the Code Reference Log. These references let you know when the code recommendation was a near exact match for code in an open source repository, allowing you to inspect the license and decide if you want to use that code or not.

References

References

Terraform HCL

After a close collaboration between teams at Hashicorp and AWS, Terraform HashiCorp Configuration Language (HCL) is also supported by CodeWhisperer. CodeWhisperer recommendations are triggered by comments in the file. In this example, we repeat a prompt that is similar to what we used with CloudFormation and CDK.

Terraform

Terraform code suggestion

Security Scanner

In addition to CodeWhisperer recommendations, the toolkit configuration also includes a built in security scanner. Considering that the resulting code can be edited and combined with other preexisting code, it’s good practice to scan the final result to see if there are any best-practice security recommendations that can be applied.

Expand the CodeWhisperer section of the AWS Toolkit to see the “Run Security Scan” button. Click it to initiate a scan, which might take up to a minute to run. In the example below, we defined an S3 bucket that can be read by anyone on the internet.

Security Scanner

Security scanner

Once the security scan completes, the code with issues is underlined and each suggestion is added to the ‘Problems’ tab. Click on any of those to get more details.

Scan results

Scan results

CodeWhisperer provides a clickable link to get more information about the vulnerability, and what you can do to fix it.

Scanner link

Scanner Link

Conclusion

The integration of generative AI tools like Amazon CodeWhisperer are transforming the landscape of cloud application development. By supporting Infrastructure as Code (IaC) languages such as CloudFormation, CDK, and Terraform HCL, CodeWhisperer is expanding its reach beyond traditional development roles. This advancement is pivotal in merging runtime and infrastructure code into a cohesive unit, significantly enhancing productivity and collaboration in the development process. The inclusion of IaC enables a broader range of professionals, especially Site Reliability Engineers (SREs), to actively engage in application development, automating and optimizing infrastructure management tasks more efficiently.

CodeWhisperer’s capability to perform security scans on the generated code aligns with the critical objectives of system reliability and security, essential for both developers and SREs. By providing insights into security best practices, CodeWhisperer enables robust and secure infrastructure management on the AWS cloud. This makes CodeWhisperer a valuable tool not just for developers, but as a comprehensive solution that bridges different technical disciplines, fostering a collaborative environment for innovation in cloud-based solutions.

Bio

Eric Beard is a Solutions Architect at AWS specializing in DevOps, CI/CD, and Infrastructure as Code, the author of the AWS Sysops Cookbook, and an editor for the AWS DevOps blog channel. When he’s not helping customers to design Well-Architected systems on AWS, he is usually playing tennis or watching tennis.

Amar Meriche is a Sr Technical Account Manager at AWS in Paris. He helps his customers improve their operational posture through advocacy and guidance, and is an active member of the DevOps and IaC community at AWS. He’s passionate about helping customers use the various IaC tools available at AWS following best practices.

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