Hot Reloading

Hot code reloading continuously applies code changes to Lambda functions

Hot reloading (formerly known as hot swapping) continuously applies code changes to Lambda functions without manual redeployment.

Quickly iterating over Lambda function code can be quite cumbersome, as you need to deploy your function on every change. LocalStack enables fast feedback cycles during development by automatically reloading your function code. Pro users can also hot-reload Lambda layers.

Hot Reloading Behavior

Delay in code change detection: It can take up to 700ms to detect code changes. In the meantime, invocations still execute the former code. Hot reloading triggers after 500ms without changes, and it can take up to an additional 200ms until the reloaded code is in effect.

Runtime restart after each code change: The runtime inside the container is restarted after every code change. During the runtime restart, the handler function re-executes any initialization code outside your handler function. The container itself is not restarted. Therefore, filesystem changes persist between code changes for invocations dispatched to the same container.

File sharing permissions with Docker Desktop on macOS: If using Docker Desktop on macOS, you might need to allow file sharing for your target folders. MacOS may prompt you to grant Docker access to your target folders.

Layer limit with hot reloading for layers: When hot reloading is active for a Lambda layer (Pro), the function can use at most one layer.

Application Configuration Examples

Hot reloading for JVM Lambdas

Since lambda containers lifetime is usually limited, regular hot code reloading techniques are not applicable here.

In our implementation, we will be watching for fs changes under the project folder, then build a FatJar, unzip it, and mount it into the Lambda Docker Container.

We assume you already have:

  • watchman
  • configured JVM project capable of building FatJars using your preferred build tool

First, create a watchman wrapper by using one of our examples

Don’t forget to adjust permissions:

$ chmod +x bin/watchman.sh

Now configure your build tool to unzip the FatJar to some folder, which will be then mounted to LocalStack. We are using Gradle build tool to unpack the FatJar into the build/hot folder:

// We assume you are using something like `Shadow` plugin that comes with `shadowJar` task
task buildHot(type: Copy) {
    from zipTree("${project.buildDir}/libs/${project.name}-all.jar")
    into "${project.buildDir}/hot"
}
buildHot.dependsOn shadowJar

Now run the following command to start watching your project in a hot-reloading mode:

$ bin/watchman.sh src "./gradlew buildHot"

Please note that you still need to configure your deployment tool to use local code mounting. Read the Deployment Configuration Examples for more information.

Hot reloading for Python Lambdas

We will show you how you can do this with a simple example function, taken directly from the AWS Lambda developer guide.

You can check out that code, or use your own lambda functions to follow along. To use the example just do:

$ cd /tmp
$ git clone git@github.com:awsdocs/aws-doc-sdk-examples.git

Creating the Lambda Function

To create the Lambda function, you just need to take care of two things:

  1. Deploy via an S3 Bucket. You need to use the magic variable hot-reload as the bucket.
  2. Set the S3 key to the path of the directory your lambda function resides in. The handler is then referenced by the filename of your lambda code and the function in that code that needs to be invoked.

So, using the AWS example, this would be:

$ awslocal lambda create-function --function-name my-cool-local-function \
    --code S3Bucket="hot-reload",S3Key="/tmp/aws-doc-sdk-examples/python/example_code/lambda" \
    --handler lambda_handler_basic.lambda_handler \
    --runtime python3.8 \
    --role arn:aws:iam::000000000000:role/lambda-role

You can also check out some of our Deployment Configuration Examples.

We can also quickly make sure that it works by invoking it with a simple payload:

$ awslocal lambda invoke --function-name my-cool-local-function \
    --payload '{"action": "increment", "number": 3}' \
    output.txt
$ awslocal lambda invoke --function-name my-cool-local-function \
    --cli-binary-format raw-in-base64-out \
    --payload '{"action": "increment", "number": 3}' \
    output.txt

The invocation returns itself returns:

{
    "StatusCode": 200,
    "LogResult": "",
    "ExecutedVersion": "$LATEST"
}

and output.txt contains:

{"result":4}

Changing things up

Now, that we got everything up and running, the fun begins. Because the function is now mounted as a file in the executing container, any change that we save on the file will be there in an instant.

For example, we can now make a minor change to the API and replace the response in line 36 with the following:

response = {'math_result': result}

Without redeploying or updating the function, the result of the previous request will look like this:

{"math_result":4}

Cool!

Usage with Virtualenv

For virtualenv-driven projects, all dependencies should be made available to the Python interpreter at runtime. There are different ways to achieve that, including:

  • expanding the Python module search path in your Lambda handler
  • creating a watchman script to copy the libraries
Expanding the module search path in your Lambda handler

The easiest approach is to expand the module search path (sys.path) and add the site-packages folder inside the virtualenv. We can add the following two lines of code at the top of the Lambda handler script:

import sys, glob
sys.path.insert(0, glob.glob(".venv/lib/python*/site-packages")[0])
...
import some_lib_from_virtualenv  # import your own modules here

This way you can easily import modules from your virtualenv, without having to change the file system layout.

Note: As an alternative to modifying sys.path, you could also set the PYTHONPATH environment variable when creating your Lambda function, to add the additional path.

Using a watchman script to copy libraries

Another alternative is to implement a watchman script that will be preparing a special folder for hot code reloading.

In our example, we are using build/hot folder as a mounting point for our Lambdas.

First, create a watchman wrapper by using one of our examples

After that, you can use the following Makefile snippet, or implement another shell script to prepare the codebase for hot reloading:

BUILD_FOLDER ?= build
PROJECT_MODULE_NAME = my_project_module

build-hot:
  rm -rf $(BUILD_FOLDER)/hot && mkdir -p $(BUILD_FOLDER)/hot
  cp -r $(VENV_DIR)/lib/python$(shell python --version | grep -oE '[0-9]\.[0-9]')/site-packages/* $(BUILD_FOLDER)/hot/
  cp -r $(PROJECT_MODULE_NAME) $(BUILD_FOLDER)/hot/$(PROJECT_MODULE_NAME)
  cp *.toml $(BUILD_FOLDER)/hot

watch:
  bin/watchman.sh $(PROJECT_MODULE_NAME) "make build-hot"

.PHONY: build-hot watch

To run the example above, run make watch. The script is copying the project module PROJECT_MODULE_NAME along with all dependencies into the build/hot folder, which is then mounted into LocalStack’s Lambda container.

Hot reloading for TypeScript Lambdas

You can hot-reload your TypeScript Lambda functions. You can use the following options to build your TypeScript code:

  • ESbuild
  • Webpack

ESbuild

We will check-out a simple example to create a simple Hello World! Lambda function using TypeScript and ESbuild.

Setting up the Lambda function

Create a new Node.js project with npm or an alternative package manager:

$ npm init -y

Install the the @types/aws-lambda and esbuild packages in your Node.js project:

$ npm install -D @types/aws-lambda esbuild

Create a new file named index.ts. Add the following code to the new file:

import { Context, APIGatewayProxyResult, APIGatewayEvent } from 'aws-lambda';

export const handler = async (event: APIGatewayEvent, context: Context): Promise<APIGatewayProxyResult> => {
  console.log(`Event: ${JSON.stringify(event, null, 2)}`);
  console.log(`Context: ${JSON.stringify(context, null, 2)}`);
  return {
      statusCode: 200,
      body: JSON.stringify({
          message: 'Hello World!',
      }),
   };
};

Add a build script to your package.json file:

"scripts": {
    "build": "esbuild index.ts --bundle --minify --sourcemap --platform=node --target=es2020 --outfile=dist/index.js --watch"
  },

The build script will use esbuild to bundle and minify the TypeScript code into a single JavaScript file, which will be placed in the dist folder.

You can now run the build script to create the dist/index.js file:

$ npm run build
Creating the Lambda Function with ESbuild

To create the Lambda function, you need to take care of two things:

  • Deploy via an S3 Bucket. You need to use the magic variable hot-reload as the bucket.
  • Set the S3 key to the path of the directory your lambda function resides in. The handler is then referenced by the filename of your lambda code and the function in that code that needs to be invoked.

Create the Lambda Function using the awslocal CLI:

$ awslocal lambda create-function \
    --function-name hello-world \
    --runtime "nodejs16.x" \
    --role arn:aws:iam::123456789012:role/lambda-ex \
    --code S3Bucket="hot-reload",S3Key="/absolute/path/to/dist" \
    --handler index.handler

You can quickly make sure that it works by invoking it with a simple payload:

$ awslocal lambda invoke \
    --function-name hello-world \
    --payload '{"action": "test"}' \
    output.txt
$ awslocal lambda invoke \
    --function-name hello-world \
    --cli-binary-format raw-in-base64-out \
    --payload '{"action": "test"}' \
    output.txt

The invocation returns itself returns:

{
    "StatusCode": 200,
    "ExecutedVersion": "$LATEST"
}

The output.txt file contains the following:

{"statusCode":200,"body":"{\"message\":\"Hello World!\"}"}
Changing the Lambda Function

The Lambda function is now mounted as a file in the executing container, hence any change that we save on the file will be there in an instant.

Change the Hello World! message to Hello LocalStack! and run npm run build. Trigger the Lambda once again. You will see the following in the output.txt file:

{"statusCode":200,"body":"{\"message\":\"Hello LocalStack!\"}"}

Webpack

In this example, you can use our public Webpack example to create a simple Lambda function using TypeScript and Webpack. To use the example, run the following commands:

$ cd /tmp
$ git clone https://github.com/localstack-samples/localstack-pro-samples.git
$ cd lambda-hot-reloading/lambda-typescript-webpack
Setting up the build

Before you can build the Lambda function, you need to install the dependencies:

$ yarn install

Next, you can build the Lambda function:

$ yarn run build

The build script in the package.json file uses Nodemon to watch for changes in the src directory and rebuild the Lambda. This is enabled using the nodemon-webpack-plugin plugin, which has been pre-configured in the webpack.config.js file.

Creating the Lambda Function with Webpack

You can now create the Lambda function using the awslocal CLI:

$ awslocal lambda create-function \
    --function-name localstack-example \
    --runtime nodejs18.x \
    --role arn:aws:iam::000000000000:role/lambda-ex \
    --code S3Bucket="hot-reload",S3Key="/absolute/path/to/dist" \
    --handler api.default

Additionally, you can create a Lambda Function URL with the following command:

$ function_url=$(awslocal lambda create-function-url-config \
    --function-name localstack-example \
    --auth-type NONE | jq -r '.FunctionUrl')
Trigger the Hot Reload

Before triggering the Lambda function, you can check the current response by running the following command:

$ curl -X GET "$function_url"

The response should be:

{"error":"Only JSON payloads are accepted"}

Go to src/api.ts and make the errorResponse function return "Only JSON payload is accepted" instead of "Only JSON payloads are accepted". Save the file and run the last curl command again.

The output should now be:

{"error":"Only JSON payload is accepted"}

You can now see that the changes are applied without redeploying the Lambda function.

Deployment Configuration Examples

custom:
  localstack:
    ...
    lambda:
      mountCode: true

# or if you need to enable code mounting only for specific stages
custom:
  stages:
    local:
      mountCode: true
    testing:
      mountCode: false
  localstack:
    stages:
      - local
      - testing
    lambda:
      mountCode: ${self:custom.stages.${opt:stage}.mountCode}
package org.localstack.cdkstack

import java.util.UUID
import software.amazon.awscdk.core.Construct
import software.amazon.awscdk.core.Duration
import software.amazon.awscdk.core.Stack
import software.amazon.awscdk.services.lambda.*
import software.amazon.awscdk.services.s3.Bucket

private val STAGE = System.getenv("STAGE") ?: "local"
private val LAMBDA_MOUNT_CWD = System.getenv("LAMBDA_MOUNT_CWD") ?: ""
private const val JAR_PATH = "build/libs/localstack-sampleproject-all.jar"

class ApplicationStack(parent: Construct, name: String) : Stack(parent, name) {

    init {
        val lambdaCodeSource = this.buildCodeSource()

        SingletonFunction.Builder.create(this, "ExampleFunctionOne")
            .code(lambdaCodeSource)
            .handler("org.localstack.sampleproject.api.LambdaApi")
            .environment(mapOf("FUNCTION_NAME" to "functionOne"))
            .timeout(Duration.seconds(30))
            .runtime(Runtime.JAVA_11)
            .uuid(UUID.randomUUID().toString())
            .build()
    }

    /**
     * Mount code for hot-reloading when STAGE=local
     */
    private fun buildCodeSource(): Code  {
        if (STAGE == "local") {
            val bucket = Bucket.fromBucketName(this, "HotReloadingBucket", "hot-reload")
            return Code.fromBucket(bucket, LAMBDA_MOUNT_CWD)
        }

        return Code.fromAsset(JAR_PATH)
    }
}
variable "STAGE" {
    type    = string
    default = "local"
}

variable "AWS_REGION" {
    type    = string
    default = "us-east-1"
}

variable "JAR_PATH" {
    type    = string
    default = "build/libs/localstack-sampleproject-all.jar"
}

variable "LAMBDA_MOUNT_CWD" {
    type    = string
}

provider "aws" {
    access_key                  = "test_access_key"
    secret_key                  = "test_secret_key"
    region                      = var.AWS_REGION
    s3_force_path_style         = true
    skip_credentials_validation = true
    skip_metadata_api_check     = true
    skip_requesting_account_id  = true

    endpoints {
        apigateway       = var.STAGE == "local" ? "http://localhost:4566" : null
        cloudformation   = var.STAGE == "local" ? "http://localhost:4566" : null
        cloudwatch       = var.STAGE == "local" ? "http://localhost:4566" : null
        cloudwatchevents = var.STAGE == "local" ? "http://localhost:4566" : null
        iam              = var.STAGE == "local" ? "http://localhost:4566" : null
        lambda           = var.STAGE == "local" ? "http://localhost:4566" : null
        s3               = var.STAGE == "local" ? "http://localhost:4566" : null
    }
}

resource "aws_iam_role" "lambda-execution-role" {
    name = "lambda-execution-role"

    assume_role_policy = <<EOF
{
  "Version": "2012-10-17",
  "Statement": [
    {
      "Action": "sts:AssumeRole",
      "Principal": {
        "Service": "lambda.amazonaws.com"
      },
      "Effect": "Allow",
      "Sid": ""
    }
  ]
}
EOF
}

resource "aws_lambda_function" "exampleFunctionOne" {
    s3_bucket     = var.STAGE == "local" ? "hot-reload" : null
    s3_key        = var.STAGE == "local" ? var.LAMBDA_MOUNT_CWD : null
    filename      = var.STAGE == "local" ? null : var.JAR_PATH
    function_name = "ExampleFunctionOne"
    role          = aws_iam_role.lambda-execution-role.arn
    handler       = "org.localstack.sampleproject.api.LambdaApi"
    runtime       = "java11"
    timeout       = 30
    source_code_hash = filebase64sha256(var.JAR_PATH)
    environment {
        variables = {
            FUNCTION_NAME = "functionOne"
        }
    }
}

You can then pass LAMBDA_MOUNT_CWD as an environment variable to your deployment tool.

LAMBDA_MOUNT_CWD=$(pwd)/build/hot serverless deploy --stage local
STAGE=local && LAMBDA_MOUNT_CWD=$(pwd)/build/hot &&
  cdklocal bootstrap aws://000000000000/$(AWS_REGION) && \
  cdklocal deploy
terraform init && \
  terraform apply -var "STAGE=local" -var "LAMBDA_MOUNT_CWD=$(pwd)/build/hot"

Share deployment configuration between different machines

The paths provided for hot reloading have to be absolute paths on the host running the LocalStack container. This, however makes sharing the same configuration between multiple machines difficult, whether using Cloud Pods or sharing IaC templates between different developers.

In order to remove the need for manual adjustments for your hot-reloading paths specified in the S3Key field, you can use placeholders for environment variables inside the path. The placeholders use the same format as you would use for shell parameter expansion, namely $ENV_VAR or ${ENV_VAR}. These used environment variables have to be set inside the LocalStack container.

Please note that the final path, after substituting the placeholders for their values, has to be an absolute path.

Example

In order to make use of the environment variable placeholders, you can inject them into the LocalStack container, for example using the following docker-compose.yml file.

version: "3.8"

services:
  localstack:
    container_name: "${LOCALSTACK_DOCKER_NAME:-localstack-main}"
    image: localstack/localstack
    ports:
      - "127.0.0.1:4566:4566"            # LocalStack Gateway
      - "127.0.0.1:4510-4559:4510-4559"  # external services port range
    environment:
      # LocalStack configuration: https://docs.localstack.cloud/references/configuration/
      - DEBUG=${DEBUG:-0}
      - HOST_LAMBDA_DIR=${PWD}
    volumes:
      - "${LOCALSTACK_VOLUME_DIR:-./volume}:/var/lib/localstack"
      - "/var/run/docker.sock:/var/run/docker.sock"

This will set a HOST_LAMBDA_DIR environment variable to the current working directory when creating the Docker Compose stack. Please note that this environment variable name is arbitrary - you can use any you want, but need to refer to that variable in your templates or commands to deploy your function correctly. You can then deploy a hot-reloading function with the following command:

$ awslocal lambda create-function \
  --function-name test-function \
  --code S3Bucket=hot-reload,S3Key='$HOST_LAMBDA_DIR/src' \
  --handler handler.handler \
  --runtime python3.12 \
  --role 'arn:aws:iam::000000000000:role/lambda-ex'

Please note the single quotes ' which prevent our shell to replace $HOST_LAMBDA_DIR before the function is created.

With the above example, you can make hot-reloading paths sharable between machines, as long as there is a point on the host to which the relative paths will stay the same. One example for this are checked out git repositories, where the code is located in the same structure - the absolute location of the checked out repository on the machine might however differ. If the chosen variable always points to the checked out directory, you can set the path using the placeholder in the checked out IaC template, or can share a Cloud Pod between machines.