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An Ember CLI Deploy plugin to create/update an AWS CloudFormation stack before deploying to it


What is CloudFormation?

AWS CloudFormation is Amazon's implementation of infrastructure as code, which lets you create, update, provision and delete stacks of AWS resources (e.g. EC2 instances, S3 buckets, CloudFront distributions etc.), described by a single configuration file.

For details on how CloudFormation works and how to write a template file, please visit the official CloudFormation Documentation. Also check the Examples section for some example configurations for common Ember deployment scenarios.

What does this plugin do?

This is an Ember CLI addon that adds a plugin to the Ember CLI Deploy pipeline to create or update a CloudFormation stack as part of the Ember CLI Deploy pipeline. It does not actually deploy any artefacts itself, this is where any of the existing plugins that work with AWS resources come into play. Here are some that should work just fine:

This allows you to create the AWS resources and deploy your app to them in one single ember deploy command. For example you could easily deploy a feature branch to a new staging environment just for this feature and delete it afterwards, without any manual setup work.

Why not use the AWS CLI directly?

The AWS CLI allows you to interact with CloudFormation, but suffers from a few caveats when integrating it into a CI/CD pipeline:

  • on the first run of the pipeline you need to create the stack, while you need to update it for all following deployments.
  • an update run without any changes to the stack is treated as an error by the CLI.
  • there is no easy way to pass the outputs of the template (e.g. the name of a created S3 bucket) to any following deployment steps.


Run the following command in your terminal:

ember install ember-cli-deploy-cloudformation


Ember is about shared solutions to common problems. And this applies here as well. Instead of figuring all the details of a useful CloudFormation stack, this section will feature a few examples to get you going quickly:

This section is still a work in progess. If you have some templates you can share, please submit a PR so others can benefit from your experience as well!


The configuration of this plugin takes place in three steps:

1. Create a CloudFormation template

Create a CloudFormation template, that defines all the AWS resources in your stack. Consult the CloudFormation documentation for more information.

Usually you will want to put this file under version control, so you can create it in your app's root folder as e.g. cfn.yaml, git add cfn-yaml, and reference it in the plugin configuration as templateBody: 'file://cfn.yaml.

2. Configure the plugin

Add the required configuration to your config/deploy.js.

See Configuration Options below for all available configuration options. For detailed information on how configuration of plugins works, please refer to the Plugin Documentation.


Here is an example of a configuration. It uses environment variables to inject all parameters that are variable:

  cloudformation: {
    accessKeyId: process.env.AWS_ACCESS_KEY_ID,
    secretAccessKey: process.env.AWS_SECRET_ACCESS_KEY,
    region: 'eu-central-1',
    templateBody: 'file://cfn.yaml',
    capabilities: ['CAPABILITY_IAM'],
    parameters: {
      DomainName: process.env.CFN_DOMAINNAME,
      Certificate: process.env.CFN_CERTIFICATE,
      HostedZoneId: process.env.CFN_HOSTEDZONEID

3. Pipe outputs to other plugins

A CloudFormation template let's you define so called "Outputs". These are commonly values, which were not available before creating the stack. So for example these could be some resource properties, like the name of an S3 bucket created by CloudFormation or the URL of a CloudFront distribution.

Some of these you will have to pass to other Ember CLI Deploy plugins, so they can actually deploy your app to the infrastructure that CloudFormation has created for you. A common example would be to pass the S3 bucket to ember-cli-deploy-s3.

This plugin will write all outputs of the processed template to the Ember CLI Deploy context, at the path cloudformation.outputs as simple hash with the name of the output as the key. As Ember CLI Deploy allow you to configure plugins not only with static values, but also with functions that receive the context, you can easily pass the outputs to any other plugin. Here the afore-mentioned S3 plugin will receive the name of the bucket, that was defined in the CloudFormation template output as AssetsBucket:

  cloudformation: {
  s3: {
    accessKeyId: process.env.AWS_ACCESS_KEY_ID,
    secretAccessKey: process.env.AWS_SECRET_ACCESS_KEY,
    bucket(context) {
      return context.cloudformation.outputs.AssetsBucket;
    region: 'eu-central-1'

Configuration Options


The AWS access key for the user that has the ability to work with CloudFormation. If this is left undefined, the normal AWS SDK credential resolution will take place.

Default: undefined


The AWS secret for the user that has the ability to work with CloudFormation. This must be defined when accessKeyId is defined.

Default: undefined


The AWS profile as definied in ~/.aws/credentials. If this is left undefined, the normal AWS SDK credential resolution will take place.

Default: undefined


The region to create the CloudFormation stack in.

Default: undefined

Moreover all parameters supported by the AWS CloudFormation SDK will be passed when creating/updating the stack. See the AWS SDK docs for a complete reference.

Note: the plugin will let you write parameters in the more usual camelcase style, and map them to the pascal case style that AWS expects. So instead of writing StackName, you can use stackName. Also for the tags and parameters properties, specify them as normal JavaScript hashes (e.g. tags: { key: 'value' }) instead of the original AWS syntax!

Here is a list of the commonly used CloudFormation parameters:


The name of the CLoudFormation stack.

Default: <appName>-<deployTarget>, e.g. myApp-production


The CloudFormation template body as a string (JSON or YAML). Instead of inlining your template, the file:// protocol is also supported to reference a template file on disk, e.g. file://path/to/cfn.yaml (relative to your app's root folder)

Either templateBody or templateURL is required!

Default: undefined


The location of a CloudFormation template (JSON or YAML). The URL must point to a template that is located in an Amazon S3 bucket.

Either templateBody or templateURL is required!

Default: undefined


An array of required capabilites, e.g. ['CAPABILITY_IAM'] for working with IAM roles, user, policies etc.

Default: undefined


A hash of input parameters as expected by your CloudFormation template.

Note: specify them as normal JavaScript hashes (e.g. parameters: { name: 'value' }) instead of the unusual AWS syntax!

parameters: {
  Domain: 'example.com'

Default: undefined

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