Development Options - AWS Step Functions

Development Options

You can implement your AWS Step Functions state machines in several ways, such as using the console, the SDKs, or a local version for testing and development.

Step Functions Console

You can define a state machine using the Step Functions console. You can write complex state machines in the cloud without using a local development environment by using AWS Lambda to supply code for your tasks, and the Step Functions console to define your state machine using the Amazon States Language.

The Creating a Lambda State Machine tutorial uses this technique to create a simple state machine, execute it, and view its results.


Step Functions is supported by the AWS SDKs for Java, .NET, Ruby, PHP, Python (Boto 3), JavaScript, Go, and C++. These SDKs provide a convenient way to use the Step Functions HTTPS API actions in various programming languages.

You can develop state machines, activities, or state machine starters using the API actions exposed by these SDK libraries. You can also access visibility operations using these libraries to develop your own Step Functions monitoring and reporting tools.

To use Step Functions with other AWS services, see the reference documentation for the current AWS SDKs and Tools for Amazon Web Services.


Step Functions supports only an HTTPS endpoint.

Standard and Express Workflows

When you create a new state machine, you must select a Type of either Standard or Express. In both cases, you define your state machine using the Amazon States Language. Your state machine executions will behave differently, depending on which Type you select. The Type you choose cannot be changed after your state machine is created.

See Logging Using CloudWatch Logs for more information.


Step Functions provides service operations that are accessible through HTTPS requests. You can use these operations to communicate directly with Step Functions and to develop your own libraries in any language that can communicate with Step Functions through HTTPS.

You can develop state machines, workers, or state machine starters using the service API actions. You can also access visibility operations through the API actions to develop your own monitoring and reporting tools.

For detailed information about API actions, see the AWS Step Functions API Reference.

Development Environments

You must set up a development environment that's appropriate to the programming language that you plan to use.

For example, to develop for Step Functions using Java, you should install a Java development environment (such as the AWS SDK for Java) on each of your development workstations. If you use Eclipse IDE for Java Developers, you should also install the AWS Toolkit for Eclipse. This Eclipse plugin adds features that are useful for developing on AWS.

If your programming language requires a runtime environment, you must set up the environment on each computer where these processes run.


To reduce latency and to store data in a location that meets your requirements, Step Functions provides endpoints in different AWS Regions.

Each endpoint in Step Functions is completely independent. A state machine or activity exists only within the Region where it was created. Any state machines and activities that you create in one Region don't share any data or attributes with those created in another Region. For example, you can register a state machine named STATES-Flows-1 in two different Regions, but the two state machines won't share data or attributes with each other because they are completely independent from each other.

For a list of Step Functions endpoints, see Regions and Endpoints: AWS Step Functions in the AWS General Reference.


You can access many Step Functions features from the AWS Command Line Interface (AWS CLI). The AWS CLI provides an alternative to using the Step Functions console or, in some cases, to programming using the Step Functions API actions. For example, you can use the AWS CLI to create a state machine and then list your state machines.

The Step Functions commands in the AWS CLI enable you to start and manage executions, poll for activities, record task heartbeats, and so on. For a complete list of Step Functions commands and the descriptions of the available arguments and examples showing their use, see the AWS CLI Command Reference.

The AWS CLI commands follow the Amazon States Language closely, so you can use the AWS CLI to learn about the Step Functions API actions. You can also use your existing API knowledge to prototype code or perform Step Functions actions from the command line.

Step Functions Local

For testing and development purposes, you can install and run Step Functions on your local machine. With Step Functions Local, you can start an execution on any machine.

The local version of Step Functions can invoke AWS Lambda functions, both in AWS and running locally. You can also coordinate other supported AWS services. For more information, see Setting Up Step Functions Local (Downloadable Version).

AWS Toolkit for Visual Studio

You can use VS Code to interact with remote state machines, and develop state machines locally. You can create or update state machines, list existing state machines, execute them, and download them. VS Code also lets you create new state machines from templates, see a visualization of your state machine, and provides code snippets, code completion, and code validation.

For more information, see the AWS Toolkit for Visual Studio Code User Guide

AWS Serverless Application Model and Step Functions

Step Functions is integrated with the AWS Serverless Application Model, which lets you integrate workflows with Lambda functions, APIs and events to create serverless applications.

You can also use the AWS SAM CLI in conjunction with the AWS Toolkit for Visual Studio Code as part of an integrated experience.

For more information, see AWS Step Functions and AWS SAM.