AWS CloudFormation
User Guide (API Version 2010-05-15)

AWS CloudFormation Designer Interface Overview

Designer has four panes. The canvas pane shows a diagram of your template resources so that you can see them and their relationships at a glance. To add resources to your template, you drag them from the Resources types pane onto the canvas pane. Use the JSON editor pane to specify template details, such as resource properties or template parameters. After you've modified the template, you can save it to a local file or to an S3 bucket. When you open or validate an invalid template, the Errors pane displays validation errors.


Designer cannot show or modify running resources in your stacks; use it only for creating, modifying, and saving templates.

The following figure illustrates the Designer panes and its main components.

Designer Panes and Components

1. Canvas pane

The canvas pane displays your template resources as a diagram. You use it to add or remove resources, create relationships between resources, and arrange their layout. The changes that you make in the canvas automatically modify the template's JSON. For more information, see Canvas Pane.

2. Resource types pane

The Resource types pane lists all of the template resources that you can add to your template, categorized by their AWS service name. You add resources by dragging them from the Resource types pane to the canvas. Most of the supported resources are listed in the AWS Resource Types Reference. The Resource types pane doesn't list connecting resources, such as the AWS::EC2::SubnetRouteTableAssociation resource. You create these resources when you connect the relevant resources, such as when you connect a route table to a subnet. For more information, see Canvas Pane.


Designer can display only AWS CloudFormation-supported resource types. It cannot display other entities, such as Availability Zones (AZs) or the resources of a nested stack.

3. JSON editor

In the JSON editor, you specify the details of your template, such as resource properties or template parameters. When you select an item in the canvas, Designer highlights the related JSON in the editor. After editing the JSON, you must refresh the canvas (choose ) to update the diagram. For more information, see JSON Editor.

4. Errors pane

When you open, validate, or attempt to create a stack with an invalid template, the Errors pane displays validation errors.

5. Full screen and Split screen buttons

Buttons to select different views of Designer. You can select a full-screen view of the canvas, a full-screen view of the JSON editor, or a split-screen view of the canvas and editor.

6. Fit to window button

A button that resizes the canvas pane to fit your template's diagram.

7. Toolbar

The toolbar provides quick access to commands for common actions, such as opening and saving templates, undoing or redoing changes, creating a stack, and validating your template.