Working with AWS CloudFormation Macros - Tutorial

Welcome to this tutorial on working with AWS CloudFormation macros. CloudFormation macros are a powerful feature that allows you to extend the capabilities of CloudFormation templates by adding custom logic, transforming templates, and performing advanced operations. With macros, you can automate repetitive tasks, enhance template readability, and achieve greater flexibility in your infrastructure as code deployments.

Example of Using AWS CloudFormation Macros

Let's consider an example where you have a CloudFormation template that provisions an Amazon S3 bucket. You want to automatically encrypt the objects uploaded to the bucket by default. You can use a CloudFormation macro to add the encryption configuration to the template.

AWSTemplateFormatVersion: '2010-09-09' Transform: AWS::Serverless-2016-10-31 yaml Copy code Resources: MyBucket: Type: AWS::S3::Bucket Properties: BucketName: my-bucket EncryptionConfiguration: Fn::Transform: Name: 'AWS::Include' Parameters: Location: 's3://my-bucket/encryption-macro.yaml'

In the above example, we use the Fn::Transform function to invoke a CloudFormation macro. The macro referenced by the Name parameter, 'AWS::Include', is responsible for including the encryption configuration specified in the 'encryption-macro.yaml' file.

Steps for Working with AWS CloudFormation Macros

  1. Create a CloudFormation macro or use an existing one. Macros can be developed using AWS Lambda or third-party services like the Serverless Application Model (SAM) or the AWS Cloud Development Kit (CDK).
  2. Define the transformation logic in the macro code, which can include modifying the template, adding or removing resources, or performing custom operations.
  3. Upload the macro code to a location accessible by CloudFormation, such as an Amazon S3 bucket.
  4. Reference the macro in your CloudFormation template using the Fn::Transform function and provide any necessary parameters.
  5. Deploy the template using the CloudFormation CLI, AWS Management Console, or AWS SDKs. CloudFormation will automatically invoke the specified macro during the deployment process.

Common Mistakes with AWS CloudFormation Macros

  • Not validating the macro code before deploying it, which can lead to errors or unexpected behavior in the templates.
  • Using macros for complex logic that could be better implemented using other AWS services or CloudFormation features.
  • Forgetting to update the macro code when making changes to the template, resulting in outdated transformations.
  • Not considering the performance implications of using macros extensively or in resource-intensive templates.
  • Overcomplicating the template design by relying heavily on macros, which can make the templates harder to understand and maintain.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. What programming languages can I use to develop CloudFormation macros?

You can develop CloudFormation macros using any programming language supported by AWS Lambda, such as Python, Node.js, Java, or .NET.

2. Can I use multiple macros in a single CloudFormation template?

Yes, you can use multiple macros in a single CloudFormation template. Simply reference each macro using the Fn::Transform function.

3. Can macros modify the structure of the CloudFormation template?

Yes, macros can modify the structure of the CloudFormation template by adding, removing, or modifying resources, parameters, or outputs.

4. Are there any limitations or constraints when working with CloudFormation macros?

CloudFormation macros have some limitations and constraints, such as maximum payload size, execution time, and dependencies on other AWS services or resources. Refer to the AWS documentation for more details.

5. Can I share CloudFormation macros with other AWS accounts?

Yes, you can share CloudFormation macros with other AWS accounts by providing them access to the macro code in an Amazon S3 bucket or by publishing the macro as a Serverless Application Repository application.


AWS CloudFormation macros enable you to extend the functionality and flexibility of CloudFormation templates by adding custom logic and transformations. By leveraging macros, you can automate tasks, enhance template readability, and perform advanced operations that are not directly supported by CloudFormation. Understanding how to work with AWS CloudFormation macros empowers you to create more dynamic and efficient infrastructure as code deployments.