Using AWS CDK with GitHub Actions (example)

Incorporating GitHub Actions into your AWS CDK project can enhance your deployment workflow, promoting seamless automation and efficiency. This guide offers step-by-step instructions to facilitate this integration, while also addressing potential challenges that may arise throughout the process.

AWS Credentials and GitHub Secrets

Your GitHub Actions will need access to your AWS account to deploy the necessary changes. To do this securely, your AWS Access Key ID and Secret Access Key should be stored as GitHub Secrets.

Step-by-Step Instructions:

  1. Navigate to your GitHub repository, then go to Settings -> Secrets and variables -> Actions -> New repository secret.
  2. Enter AWS_ACCESS_KEY_ID and AWS_SECRET_ACCESS_KEY as two separate secrets.
  3. Under the Variables tab, select New repository variable.
  4. Enter AWS_REGION as a variable set to your account's default AWS region.

Key Points:

  • Never use your AWS root account keys. Stick to IAM best practices.
  • Ensure the IAM user whose keys you're using has the necessary permissions to deploy the resources defined in your CDK app.

Building Your GitHub Actions Workflow

To set up your GitHub Actions, you need to create a workflow file in your repository under .github/workflows, such as main.yml.

This workflow file outlines the steps needed to deploy your CDK app:

  • Check out your code.
  • Install Nodejs.
  • Set up your AWS credentials.
  • Install dependencies.
  • Compile and test the CDK app.
  • Deploy the CDK app.

Sample main.yml:

name: CDK Deployment

on:
  push:
    branches:
      - main

jobs:
  deploy:
    runs-on: ubuntu-latest

    steps:
    - name: Checkout Code
      uses: actions/checkout@v2

		  - name: Setup Node
      uses: actions/setup-node@v3
      with:
        node-version: 16

    - name: Configure AWS Credentials
      uses: aws-actions/configure-aws-credentials@v1
      with:
        aws-access-key-id: ${{ secrets.AWS_ACCESS_KEY_ID }}
        aws-secret-access-key: ${{ secrets.AWS_SECRET_ACCESS_KEY }}
        aws-region: ${{ env.AWS_REGION }}

    - name: Install Dependencies
      run: npm install

    - name: Compile and Test
      run: npx cdk synth

    - name: Deploy
      run: npx cdk deploy --require-approval never

Key Points:

  • Ensure the correct AWS region is set in the Configure AWS Credentials step.
  • --require-approval never skips any user confirmation steps in the deployment process. This is useful for automation, but could lead to sensitive changes being deployed if you are not careful.
  • Use branches you want to trigger this workflow in the push: section.

Potential Issues and Solutions

  • Insufficient permissions: The AWS IAM user must have sufficient permissions to deploy all resources defined in the CDK app. If the deployment fails due to a lack of permissions, adjust the IAM user's policies accordingly.
  • Failed tests: If tests fail during the Compile and Test step, the workflow won't proceed. Examine the output logs, fix the issues in your local development environment, and push the changes.
  • Dependency errors: Ensure all dependencies are properly defined in your package.json file. Any required but missing dependencies can cause the workflow to fail at the Install Dependencies step.
  • Missing AWS region: If you see an error message like "Missing region in config," ensure that the AWS region is correctly set in the Configure AWS Credentials step.

Integrating AWS CDK with GitHub Actions can vastly improve your development and deployment workflows. While there may be some potential issues to watch for, the benefits of a smooth, automated CI/CD pipeline are worth the effort.


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Maintained by Caleb Waymeyer