AWS Cloud Development Kit (AWS CDK)
Developer Guide (Version latest)

Runtime Context

The AWS CDK uses context to retrieve information such as the Availability Zones in your account or Amazon Machine Image (AMI) IDs used to start your instances. To avoid unexpected changes to your deployments, such as when a new Amazon Linux AMI is released, thus changing your Auto Scaling group, the AWS CDK stores context values in the cdk.context.json file within your project. This ensures that the AWS CDK retrieves the same value the next time it synthesizes your app. Don't forget to put this file under version control.

Construct Context

You can provide context values in three different ways:

  • Automatically by the AWS CDK CLI after required information, such as the list of Availability Zones, is looked up from the current AWS account.

  • Provided by the user through the CLI using the --context option, or in the context key of the cdk.json file.

  • Set in code using the construct.node.setContext method.

Context entries are scoped to the construct that created them: they are visible to children constructs, but not to siblings. Context entries that are set by the CLI, either automatically or from the --context option, are implicitly set on the App construct, and are visible to the app.

You can get context information using the construct.node.tryGetContext method, which returns the value set on the current construct if it is present. Otherwise, it resolves the context from the current construct's parent, until it has reached the App construct.

Context Methods

The AWS CDK supports several context methods that enable AWS CDK apps to get contextual information. For example, you can get a list of Availability Zones that are available in a given AWS account and AWS Region, using the stack.availabilityZones method.

The following are the context methods:


Gets the hosted zones in your account.


Gets the supported Availability Zones.


Gets a value from the current Region's AWS Systems Manager Parameter Store.


Gets the existing VPCs in your accounts.

If a given context information isn't available, the AWS CDK app notifies the AWS CDK CLI that the context information is missing. The CLI then queries the current AWS account for the information, stores the resulting context information in the cdk.context.json file, and executes the AWS CDK app again with the context values.

Don't forget to add the cdk.context.json file to your source control repository to ensure that subsequent synth commands will return the same result, and that your AWS account won't be needed when synthesizing from your build system.

Viewing and Managing Context

Use the cdk context command to view and manage the information in your cdk.context.json file. To see this information, use the cdk context command without any options. The output should be something like the following.

Context found in cdk.json:
│ # | Key                                                         │ Value                                                 |
│ 1 | availability-zones:account=123456789012:region=eu-central-1 │ [ "eu-central-1a", "eu-central-1b", "eu-central-1c" ] |
│ 2 | availability-zones:account=123456789012:region=eu-west-1    │ [ "eu-west-1a", "eu-west-1b", "eu-west-1c" ]          |

Run cdk context --reset KEY_OR_NUMBER to remove a context key. It will be refreshed on the next CDK synthesis run.

To remove a context value, run cdk context --reset, specifying the value's corresponding key number. The following example removes the value that corresponds to the key value of 2 in the preceding example, which is the Amazon Linux AMI ID.

$ cdk context --reset 2
Context value
reset. It will be refreshed on the next SDK synthesis run.

Therefore, if you want to update to the latest version of the Amazon Linux AMI, you can use the preceding example to do a controlled update of the context value and reset it, and then synthesize and deploy your app again.

cdk synth

To clear all of the stored context values for your app, run cdk context --clear, as follows.

cdk context --clear