AWS OpsWorks
User Guide (API Version 2013-02-18)

A Short Digression: Cookbooks, Recipes, and AWS OpsWorks Stacks Attributes

You now have app and database servers, but they aren't quite ready to use. You still need to set up the database and configure the app's connection settings. AWS OpsWorks Stacks doesn't handle these tasks automatically, but it does support Chef cookbooks, recipes, and dynamic attributes. You can implement a pair of recipes, one to set up the database and one to configure the app's connection settings, and have AWS OpsWorks Stacks run them for you.

The phpapp cookbook, which contains the required recipes, is already implemented and ready for use; you can just skip to Step 3.3: Add the Custom Cookbooks to MyStack if you prefer. If you'd like to know more, this section provides some background on cookbooks and recipes and describes how the recipes work. To see the cookbook itself, go to the phpapp cookbook.

Recipes and Attributes

A Chef recipe is basically a specialized Ruby application that performs tasks on an instance such as installing packages, creating configuration files, executing shell commands, and so on. Groups of related recipes are organized into cookbooks, which also contain supporting files such as templates for creating configuration files.

AWS OpsWorks Stacks has a set of cookbooks that support the built-in layers. You can also create custom cookbooks with your own recipes to perform custom tasks on your instances. This topic provides a brief introduction to recipes and shows how to use them to set up the database and configure the app's connection settings. For more information on cookbooks and recipes, see Cookbooks and Recipes or Customizing AWS OpsWorks Stacks.

Recipes usually depend on Chef attributes for input data:

  • Some of these attributes are defined by Chef and provide basic information about the instance such as the operating system.

  • AWS OpsWorks Stacks defines a set of attributes that contain information about the stack—such as the layer configurations—and about deployed apps—such as the app repository.

    You can add custom attributes to this set by assigning custom JSON to the stack or deployment.

  • Your cookbooks can also define attributes, which are specific to the cookbook.

    The phpapp cookbook attributes are defined in attributes/default.rb.

For a complete list of AWS OpsWorks Stacks attributes, see Stack Configuration and Deployment Attributes: Linux and Built-in Cookbook Attributes. For more information, see Overriding Attributes.

Attributes are organized in a hierarchical structure, which can be represented as a JSON object. The following example shows a JSON representation of the deployment attributes for SimplePHPApp, which includes the values that you need for the task at hand.

"deploy": { "simplephpapp": { "sleep_before_restart": 0, "rails_env": null, "document_root": "web", "deploy_to": "/srv/www/simplephpapp", "ssl_certificate_key": null, "ssl_certificate": null, "deploying_user": null, "ssl_certificate_ca": null, "ssl_support": false, "migrate": false, "mounted_at": null, "application": "simplephpapp", "auto_bundle_on_deploy": true, "database": { "reconnect": true, "database": "simplephpapp", "host": null, "adapter": "mysql", "data_source_provider": "stack", "password": "d1zethv0sm", "port": 3306, "username": "root" }, "scm": { "revision": "version2", "scm_type": "git", "user": null, "ssh_key": null, "password": null, "repository": "git://" }, "symlink_before_migrate": { "config/opsworks.php": "opsworks.php" }, "application_type": "php", "domains": [ "simplephpapp" ], "memcached": { "port": 11211, "host": null }, "symlinks": { }, "restart_command": "echo 'restarting app'" }

You incorporate this data into your application by using Chef node syntax, like the following:


The deploy node has a single app node, simplephpapp, that contains information about the app's database, Git repository, and so on. The example represents the value of the database user name, which resolves to root.

Set Up the Database

The MySQL layer's built-in Setup recipes automatically create a database for the app named with the app's shortname, so for this example you already have a database named simplephpapp. However, you need to finish the setup by creating a table for the app to store its data. You could create the table manually, but a better approach is to implement a custom recipe to handle the task, and have AWS OpsWorks Stacks run it for you. This section describes how the recipe, dbsetup.rb, is implemented. The procedure for having AWS OpsWorks Stacks run the recipe is described later.

To see the recipe in the repository, go to dbsetup.rb. The following example shows the dbsetup.rb code.

node[:deploy].each do |app_name, deploy| execute "mysql-create-table" do command "/usr/bin/mysql -u#{deploy[:database][:username]} -p#{deploy[:database][:password]} #{deploy[:database][:database]} -e'CREATE TABLE #{node[:phpapp][:dbtable]}( id INT UNSIGNED NOT NULL AUTO_INCREMENT, author VARCHAR(63) NOT NULL, message TEXT, PRIMARY KEY (id) )'" not_if "/usr/bin/mysql -u#{deploy[:database][:username]} -p#{deploy[:database][:password]} #{deploy[:database][:database]} -e'SHOW TABLES' | grep #{node[:phpapp][:dbtable]}" action :run end end

This recipe iterates over the apps in the deploy node. This example has only one app, but it's possible for a deploy node to have multiple apps.

execute is a Chef resource that executes a specified command. In this case, it's a MySQL command that creates a table. The not_if directive ensures that the command does not run if the specified table already exists. For more information on Chef resources, see About Resources and Providers.

The recipe inserts attribute values into the command string, using the node syntax discussed earlier. For example, the following inserts the database's user name.


Let's unpack this somewhat cryptic code:

  • For each iteration, deploy is set to the current app node, so it resolves to [:deploy][:app_name]. For this example, it resolves to [:deploy][:simplephpapp].

  • Using the deployment attribute values shown earlier, the entire node resolves to root.

  • You wrap the node in #{ } to insert it into a string.

Most of the other nodes resolve in a similar way. The exception is #{node[:phpapp][:dbtable]}, which is defined by the custom cookbook's attributes file and resolves to the table name, urler. The actual command that runs on the MySQL instance is therefore:

"/usr/bin/mysql -uroot -pvjud1hw5v8 simplephpapp -e'CREATE TABLE urler( id INT UNSIGNED NOT NULL AUTO_INCREMENT, author VARCHAR(63) NOT NULL, message TEXT, PRIMARY KEY (id))' "

This command creates a table named urler with id, author, and message fields, using the credentials and database name from the deployment attributes.

Connect the Application to the Database

The second piece of the puzzle is the application, which needs connection information such as the database password to access the table. SimplePHPApp effectively has only one working file, app.php; all index.php does is load app.php.

app.php includes db-connect.php, which handles the database connection, but that file is not in the repository. You can't create db-connect.php in advance because it defines the database based on the particular instance. Instead, the appsetup.rb recipe generates db-connect.php using connection data from the deployment attributes.

To see the recipe in the repository, go to appsetup.rb. The following example shows the appsetup.rb code.

node[:deploy].each do |app_name, deploy| script "install_composer" do interpreter "bash" user "root" cwd "#{deploy[:deploy_to]}/current" code <<-EOH curl -s | php php composer.phar install EOH end template "#{deploy[:deploy_to]}/current/db-connect.php" do source "db-connect.php.erb" mode 0660 group deploy[:group] if platform?("ubuntu") owner "www-data" elsif platform?("amazon") owner "apache" end variables( :host => (deploy[:database][:host] rescue nil), :user => (deploy[:database][:username] rescue nil), :password => (deploy[:database][:password] rescue nil), :db => (deploy[:database][:database] rescue nil), :table => (node[:phpapp][:dbtable] rescue nil) ) only_if do"#{deploy[:deploy_to]}/current") end end end

Like dbsetup.rb, appsetup.rb iterates over apps in the deploy node—just simplephpapp again—. It runs a code block with a script resource and a template resource.

The script resource installs Composer—a dependency manager for PHP applications. It then runs Composer's install command to install the dependencies for the sample application to the app's root directory.

The template resource generates db-connect.php and puts it in /srv/www/simplephpapp/current. Note the following:

  • The recipe uses a conditional statement to specify the file owner, which depends on the instance's operating system.

  • The only_if directive tells Chef to generate the template only if the specified directory exists.

A template resource operates on a template that has essentially the same content and structure as the associated file but includes placeholders for various data values. The source parameter specifies the template, db-connect.php.erb, which is in the phpapp cookbook's templates/default directory, and contains the following:

<?php define('DB_NAME', '<%= @db%>'); define('DB_USER', '<%= @user%>'); define('DB_PASSWORD', '<%= @password%>'); define('DB_HOST', '<%= @host%>'); define('DB_TABLE', '<%= @table%>'); ?>

When Chef processes the template, it replaces the <%= => placeholders with the value of the corresponding variables in the template resource, which are in turn drawn from the deployment attributes. The generated file is therefore:

<?php define('DB_NAME', 'simplephpapp'); define('DB_USER', 'root'); define('DB_PASSWORD', 'ujn12pw'); define('DB_HOST', ''); define('DB_TABLE', 'urler'); ?>