Using modules to encapsulate and reuse resource configurations - AWS CloudFormation

Using modules to encapsulate and reuse resource configurations

Modules are a way for you to package resource configurations for inclusion across stack templates, in a transparent, manageable, and repeatable way. Modules can encapsulate common service configurations and best practices as modular, customizable building blocks for you to include in your stack templates. Modules enable you to include resource configurations that incorporate best practices, expert domain knowledge, and accepted guidelines (for areas such as security, compliance, governance, and industry regulations) in your templates, without having to acquire deep knowledge of the intricacies of the resource implementation.

For example, a domain expert in networking could create a module that contains built-in security groups and ingress/egress rules that adhere to security guidelines. You could then include that module in your template to provision secure networking infrastructure in your stack--without having to spend time figuring out how VPCs, subnets, security groups, and gateways work. And because modules are versioned, if security guidelines change over time, the module author can create a new version of the module that incorporates those changes.

Characteristics of using modules in your templates include:

  • Predictability: A module must adhere to the schema it registers in the CloudFormation registry, so you know what resources it can resolve to once you include it in your template.

  • Reusability: You can use the same module across multiple templates and accounts.

  • Traceability: CloudFormation retains knowledge of which resources in a stack were provisioned from a module, enabling you to easily understand the source of resource changes.

  • Manageability: Once you've registered a module, you can manage it through the CloudFormation registry, including versioning and account and region availability.

A module can contain:

  • One or more resources to be provisioned from the module, along with any associated data, such as outputs or conditions.

  • Any module parameters, which enable you to specify custom values whenever the module is used.

For information on developing module types, see Developing module types in the CloudFormation Command Line Interface User Guide.

Using modules in a template

To use a module, make sure it's registered in the account and region in which you want to use it. You register modules in the CloudFormation registry as private extensions. Then, treat it much as you would an individual resource:

  • Include it in the Resources section of your template.

  • Specify any necessary properties for the module.

When you initiate a stack operation, CloudFormation generates a processed template that resolves any included modules into the appropriate resources. Use change sets to preview the resources to be added or updated prior to actually executing the stack operation.

Consider the following example: you have a template that contains both resources and modules. The template contains one individual resource, ResourceA, as well as a module, ModuleParent. That module contains two resources, ResourceB and ResourceC, as well as a nested module, ModuleChild. ModuleChild contains a single resource, ResourceD. If you create a stack from this template, CloudFormation processes the template and resolves the modules to the appropriate resources. The resulting stack has four resources: ResourceA, ResourceB, ResourceC, and ResourceD.


                During a stack operation, CloudFormation resolves the two modules included
                    in the stack template into the appropriate four resources.

CloudFormation keeps track of which resources in a stack were created from modules. You can view this information on the Events, Resources, and Drifts tabs for a given stack, and it's also included in change set previews.

Modules are distinguishable from resources in a template because they adhere to the following four-part naming convention, as opposed to the typical three-part convention used by resources:

organization::service::usecase::MODULE

Using parameters to specify module values

Modules can include module parameters. Much like template parameters, module parameters enable you to input custom values to your module from the template (or module) that contains it. The module can then use these values to set properties of the resources it contains.

You can also define template parameters that in turn set module properties, so that users can input values that get passed to the module at the time of the stack operation. For more information about defining template parameters, see Parameters.

Likewise, if a module contains a nested module that includes module parameters, you can:

  • Specify the values for the nested module's parameters directly in the parent module.

  • Define corresponding module parameters in the parent module that enable the nested module's parameters to be set by the template (or module) in which the parent module is contained.

Using template parameters to specify module parameter values

The following example shows how to define template parameters that pass values to a module.

Here, the template containing My::S3::SampleBucket::MODULE defines a template parameter, BucketName, that enables the user to specify an S3 bucket name during the stack operation.

// Template containing My::S3::SampleBucket::MODULE { "Parameters": { "BucketName": { "Description": "Name for your sample bucket", "Type": "String" } }, "Resources": { "MyBucket": { "Type": "My::S3::SampleBucket::MODULE", "Properties": { "BucketName": { "Ref": "BucketName" } } } } }

Specifying properties on resources in a child module from the parent module

The following example illustrates how to specify parameter values in a module that's nested within another module.

This first module, My::S3::SampleBucketPrivate::MODULE, will be the child module. It defines two parameters: BucketName and AccessControl. The values specified for these parameters are used to specify the BucketName and AccessControl properties of the AWS::S3::Bucket resource the module contains. Below is the template fragment for My::S3::SampleBucketPrivate::MODULE.

// My::S3::SampleBucketPrivate::MODULE { "AWSTemplateFormatVersion": "2010-09-09", "Description": "A sample S3 Bucket with Versioning and DeletionPolicy.", "Parameters": { "BucketName": { "Description": "Name for the bucket", "Type": "String" }, "AccessControl": { "Description": "AccessControl for the bucket", "Type": "String" } }, "Resources": { "S3Bucket": { "Type": "AWS::S3::Bucket", "Properties": { "BucketName": { "Ref": "BucketName" }, "AccessControl": { "Ref": "AccessControl" }, "DeletionPolicy": "Retain", "VersioningConfiguration": { "Status": "Enabled" } } } } }

Next, the previous module is nested within a parent module, My::S3::SampleBucket::MODULE. The parent module, My::S3::SampleBucket::MODULE, sets the child module parameters in the following ways:

  • It sets the AccessControl parameter of My::S3::SampleBucketPrivate::MODULE to Private.

  • For BucketName, it defines a module parameter, which will enable the bucket name to be specified in the template (or module) that contains My::S3::SampleBucket::MODULE.

// My::S3::SampleBucket::MODULE { "AWSTemplateFormatVersion": "2010-09-09", "Description": "A sample S3 Bucket. With Private AccessControl.", "Parameters": { "BucketName": { "Description": "Name for your sample bucket", "Type": "String" } }, "Resources": { "MyBucket": { "Type": "My::S3::SampleBucketPrivate::MODULE", "Properties": { "BucketName": { "Ref": "BucketName" }, "AccessControl" : "Private" } } } }

Specifying constraints for module parameters

Module parameters don't support Type or Constraint enforcement. To perform type or constraint checking on a module parameter, create a template parameter with the desired constraints, then reference that template parameter in your module parameter.

Referencing resources in a module

Resources in a module can be referenced by logical name. The fully-qualified logical name of a resource contained in a module can be constructed by combining:

  • The logical name specified for the module in the containing template (or containing module).

  • The logical name for the resource, specified in the module.

The fully-qualified logical name for the resource can be specified with or without using a period as a delimiter. For example, both of the logical names below are valid, and functionaly equivalent:

  • ModuleLogicalName.ResourceLogicalName

  • ModuleLogicalNameResourceLogicalName

In this way, you can use GetAtt and Ref intrinsic functions to access property values on module resources.

In the following example, the template references a property in a module to set a corresponding property on a resource in the template itself.

Suppose that the My::S3::SampleBucket::MODULE module contains an AWS::S3::Bucket resource with the logical name of S3Bucket. To reference the bucket name of this resource using the Ref intrinsic function, combine the logical name given the module in the template, MyBucket, with the logical name of the resource in the module, S3Bucket, to get the fully qualified logical name of the resource: either MyBucket.S3Bucket or MyBucketS3Bucket.

The logical names of resources contained in a module are specified in the module's schema. You can access that schema in the following ways:

  • Finding the module in the CloudFormation registry. The Schema tab displays the module schema.

  • Using the DescribeType API to return the module details, which includes the schema.

// Template that uses My::S3::SampleBucket::MODULE { "Parameters": { "BucketName": { "Description": "Name for your sample bucket", "Type": "String" } }, "Resources": { "MyBucket": { "Type": "My::S3::SampleBucket::MODULE", "Properties": { "BucketName": { "Ref": "BucketName" } } }, "exampleQueue": { "Type": "AWS::SQS::Queue", "Properties": { "QueueName": { "Ref": "MyBucket.S3Bucket" } } } }, "Outputs": { "BucketArn": { "Value": { "Fn::GetAtt": [ "MyBucket", "S3Bucket.Arn" ] } } } }
Parameters: BucketName: Description: Name for your sample bucket Type: String Resources: MyBucket: Type: My::S3::SampleBucket::MODULE Properties: BucketName: !Ref BucketName exampleQueue: Type: AWS::SQS::Queue Properties: QueueName: !Ref MyBucket.S3Bucket Outputs: BucketArn: Value: !GetAtt MyBucket.S3Bucket.Arn

Considerations when using modules

  • There is no additional charge for using modules. You pay only for the resources those modules resolve to in your stacks.

  • CloudFormation quotas, such as the maximum number of resources allowed in a stack, or the maximum size of the template body, apply to the processed template whether the resources included in that template come from modules or not. For more information, see AWS CloudFormation quotas.

  • Tags you specify at the stack level are assigned to the individual resources derived from the module.

  • Helper scripts specified at the module level don't propagate to the individual resources contained in the module when CloudFormation processes the template.

  • Outputs specified in the module are propagated to outputs at the template level.

    Each output will be assigned a logical ID that's a concatenation of the module logical name and the output name as defined in the module. For more information on outputs, see Outputs.

  • Parameters specified in the module aren't propagated to parameters at the template level.

    However, you can create template-level parameters that reference module-level parameters. For more information, see Using parameters to specify module values.

Module registration and versioning

You register and manage the modules in your account and region using the CloudFormation registry. For more information, see Using the AWS CloudFormation registry.

You can register multiple versions of the same module in a given account and region. Keep in mind the following considerations:

  • A module must be registered in the account and region in which you want to use it.

  • During stack operations, CloudFormation uses whatever version of the module that's currently registered as the default version in the account and region in which the stack operation is being performed. This includes modules that are nested in other modules.

    Therefore, be aware that if you have different versions of the same module registered as the default version in different accounts or regions, using the same template may result in different results.

    For more information, see Specifying which version of an extension to use.

  • During stack operations, CloudFormation uses whatever version of the resource that's currently registered as the default version in the account and region in which the stack operation is being performed. This includes the resources generated by including modules.

  • Changing the default version of a module doesn't initiate any stack update operation. However, the next time you perform a stack operation with any template containing that module, such as a stack update, CloudFormation will use the new default version in the operation.

    The one exception to this is performing a stack update with the use previous template option specified, as described below.

  • For stack update operations, if you specify the use previous template option, CloudFormation uses the previous processed template for the stack update, and doesn't reprocess the module for any changes you might have made to it.

  • To guarantee uniform results, if you are including modules in a stack template for use with stack sets, you should ensure that the same version of the module is set as the default version in all the accounts and regions in which you are planning to deploy your stack instances. This includes for modules that are nested in other modules. For more information on stack sets, see Working with stack sets.

For more information on registering new versions of a module, or changing the default version of a module, see Using the AWS CloudFormation registry.

Activating public modules for use in your account

In order to successfully activate a public module in your account and region, the following must be true for each third-party public extension (resource or module) included in the module:

  • The extension must already be activated in your account and region.

    If the extension in the module uses a type name alias, the extension must be registered in your account and region using the same type name alias. For more information, see Specifying aliases to refer to extensions.

  • The extension version currently activated must be one of the supported major versions of that extension specified in the module. For more information, see Model requirements for publishing a public module in the CloudFormation CLI User Guide.

If you do not have the correct third-party public extensions and extension versions activated, CloudFormation will fail the operation with an error listing the extensions and/or versions that need to be activated before the module can be successfully activated.