Ref - AWS CloudFormation


The intrinsic function Ref returns the value of the specified parameter or resource. When the AWS::LanguageExtensions transform transform is used, you can use intrinsic functions as a parameter to Ref and Fn::GetAtt.

  • When you specify a parameter's logical name, it returns the value of the parameter.

  • When you specify a resource's logical name, it returns a value that you can typically use to refer to that resource, such as a physical ID.

  • When you specify an intrinsic function, it returns the output of that function.

When you are declaring a resource in a template and you need to specify another template resource by name, you can use the Ref to refer to that other resource. In general, Ref returns the name of the resource. For example, a reference to an AWS::AutoScaling::AutoScalingGroup returns the name of that Auto Scaling group resource.

For some resources, an identifier is returned that has another significant meaning in the context of the resource. An AWS::EC2::EIP resource, for instance, returns the IP address, and an AWS::EC2::Instance returns the instance ID.


You can also use Ref to add values to Outputs messages.

For more information about Ref return values for a particular resource or property, refer to the documentation for that resource or property in the Resource and property reference.



{ "Ref" : "logicalName" }
{ "Ref" : "IntrinsicFunction" }


Syntax for the full function name:

Ref: logicalName
Ref: IntrinsicFunction

Syntax for the short form:

!Ref logicalName
!Ref IntrinsicFunction



The logical name of the resource or parameter you want to reference.


The intrinsic function that resolves to a valid string. It should contain references to parameters or identifiers, and should not contain resource logical identifiers.

Return value

When the parameter is a logicalName, the return value is the physical ID of the resource or the value of the parameter.

When the parameter is an IntrinsicFunction, the return value is the return value from the intrinsic function



The following resource declaration for an Elastic IP address needs the instance ID of an EC2 instance and uses the Ref function to specify the instance ID of the MyEC2Instance resource:


"MyEIP" : { "Type" : "AWS::EC2::EIP", "Properties" : { "InstanceId" : { "Ref" : "MyEC2Instance" } } }


MyEIP: Type: "AWS::EC2::EIP" Properties: InstanceId: !Ref MyEC2Instance

Example generating identifier for multiple stages

This example demonstrates how to use the Fn::Sub intrinsic function to substitute values for the Identifier for different stages. The Ref and the Fn::GetAtt functions can then be used to reference the appropriate values, based on the input for the stage. Fn::Sub is first used with Fn::GetAtt to obtain the ARN of the appropriate Amazon SQS queue to set the dimensions of the Amazon CloudWatch alarm. Next, Fn::Join is used with Ref to create the logical ID string of the Stage parameter.


{ "AWSTemplateFormatVersion": "2010-09-09", "Transform": "AWS::LanguageExtensions", "Parameters": { "Stage": { "Type": "String", "Default": "Dev", "AllowedValues": [ "Dev", "Prod" ] } }, "Conditions": { "isProd": { "Fn::Equals": [ {"Ref": "Stage"}, "Prod" ] }, "isDev": { "Fn::Equals": [ {"Ref": "Stage"}, "Dev" ] } }, "Resources": { "DevQueue": { "Type": "AWS::SQS::Queue", "Condition": "isDev", "Properties": { "QueueName": {"Fn::Sub": "My${Stage}Queue"} } }, "ProdQueue": { "Type": "AWS::SQS::Queue", "Condition": "isProd", "Properties": { "QueueName": {"Fn::Sub": "My${Stage}Queue"} } }, "DevTopic": { "Condition": "isDev", "Type": "AWS::SNS::Topic" }, "ProdTopic": { "Condition": "isProd", "Type": "AWS::SNS::Topic" }, "MyAlarm": { "Type": "AWS::CloudWatch::Alarm", "Properties": { "AlarmDescription": "Alarm if queue depth grows beyond 10 messages", "Namespace": "AWS/SQS", "MetricName": "ApproximateNumberOfMessagesVisible", "Dimensions":[ { "Name": {"Fn::Sub": "${Stage}Queue"}, "Value": {"Fn::GetAtt": [{"Fn::Sub": "${Stage}Queue"}, "QueueName"]} } ], "Statistic": "Sum", "Period": 300, "EvaluationPeriods": 1, "Threshold": 10, "ComparisonOperator": "GreaterThanThreshold", "AlarmActions": [ { "Ref": {"Fn::Join": ["", [{"Ref": "Stage"}, "Topic"]]} } ] } } } }


AWSTemplateFormatVersion: 2010-09-09 Transform: 'AWS::LanguageExtensions' Parameters: Stage: Type: String Default: Dev AllowedValues: - Dev - Prod Conditions: isProd: !Equals - !Ref Stage - Prod isDev: !Equals - !Ref Stage - Dev Resources: DevQueue: Type: 'AWS::SQS::Queue' Condition: isDev Properties: QueueName: !Sub 'My${Stage}Queue' ProdQueue: Type: 'AWS::SQS::Queue' Condition: isProd Properties: QueueName: !Sub 'My${Stage}Queue' DevTopic: Condition: isDev Type: 'AWS::SNS::Topic' ProdTopic: Condition: isProd Type: 'AWS::SNS::Topic' MyAlarm: Type: 'AWS::CloudWatch::Alarm' Properties: AlarmDescription: Alarm if queue depth grows beyond 10 messages Namespace: AWS/SQS MetricName: ApproximateNumberOfMessagesVisible Dimensions: - Name: !Sub '${Stage}Queue' Value: !GetAtt - !Sub '${Stage}Queue' - QueueName Statistic: Sum Period: 300 EvaluationPeriods: 1 Threshold: 10 ComparisonOperator: GreaterThanThreshold AlarmActions: - !Ref 'Fn::Join': - '' - - !Ref Stage - Topic

Supported functions

When the AWS::LanguageExtensions transform transform is used, within the Ref function, you can use the following functions.