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AWS - The Gateway to Full-Stack Development for Front-End Engineers

Are you a front-end engineer looking to cross into full-stack development? AWS is a great way to do that. Learn how you can cross into full-stack development using AWS.

Ceora is a developer advocate based in Philadelphia. Her career thus far has centered around creating educational content focused on making the tech industry more accessible to everyone. She’s been able to work with amazing companies like Apollo GraphQL, DigitalOcean,, and Kode With Klossy.


Ceora Ford: [00:00:00] Thank you so much. Yeah. Cape pop is a huge part of my life right now. And I’m waiting till that hobby phases out. And I started a new obsession , which tends to be my habit these days.

Okay. So I’m going to start sharing my screen. Okay. Awesome. So I’m really excited to be here today. I’m gonna be talking about AWS and how it can become the gateway to full sec development for front engineers. But before we get into the discussion and the presentation, I want to give you a little bit of an introduction about me so you can understand like my background and.

Kind of why this is a topic that I’m very interested in talking to everyone here today about, so I am a developer based in Philadelphia. I have been in the tech industry for a little over a year, and I’m currently working as a developer [00:01:00] advocate at a polygraph. So I’m a big proponent of developer education as was mentioned in my intro.

I love to create content that helps make con complex facets easier for everyone to underst. And I also am a AWS and front end hobbyist. This is not something that I do. I don’t work with AWS or front end per se, professionally these days, but it’s still something that I’m very interested in. I actually got into AWS through a Udacity program.

And prior to that, I was used to working with front end and I working with AWS allowed me to see how AWS can help a front and. Expand more into a full stack development skill set. So next I wanna discuss like what to expect during this talk. What are some of the things that you can expect while listening to this presentation?

I just wanna start off by saying this is a what in the, and why and where kind of conversation I’m going to be addressing why frontend [00:02:00] developers might want to invest time into learning more about AWS. And I’ll also outline what specific parts of AWS can be the gateway to full stack and backend development for front end engineers.

So I won’t necessarily go into how you can build full stack applications with AWS. I will have some resources later on that kind of show. That will lead you into doing that. But like I said, this is more of a what and the why, and like where you can learn more kind of conversation. So here are the specific question that we’re gonna answer today.

We’re gonna discuss back in and establish what exactly back in development is. It’s good that we have like a baseline definition for that so that we can make sure we’re all in the same. All on the same page, then we’re also gonna discuss AWS. What is AWS and why you or anyone here who may be interested in who may be a front end developer or otherwise, why you should be interested in learning more about AWS.

And then I’m gonna combine the two together and discuss how AWS and backend development tied together and what parts of AWS [00:03:00] you should learn to become more full stack. So let’s tackle this first question. What is backend development. And like I said, this might be something that most of us have an idea of.

You may have heard about backend development before you may have dabbled in it a little bit. But like I said, we wanna establish a baseline of what backend development is so that we can all be on the same page. So here’s like a formal definition that I fail online on the internet. Backend development refers to the service side of an application.

And every that can everything that communicates between the database and the browser. So what does this actually mean? Here are some of the things that a backend developer actually does. Now, if you talk to a row backend developer, they’ll probably tell you that this concise list is like nothing conspiracy to what they really do, but for the sake of brevity, I’m just gonna keep it to these bullet points to keeping it as brief as possible.

So some of the things that backend developers do, they create APIs that are secure and perform it that allow that [00:04:00] deliver data from database. They also build well organized and optimize databases. They also handle configuring servers that handle user requests and scale, according to user needs.

And they also build applications with server side languages. Okay. So now that we have this baseline for what backend development is, let’s get into what AWS. This is a very like broad topic. And if you right now go to the AWS website and look at all the services that AWS offers, you’ll be confronted with a huge, intimidating long list of services that they offer, but bef to just offset that, like overwhelming the overwhelming amount of things that you can do with AWS.

I want to clarify what AWS is and like the basic definition of what they do. So here’s again, the textbook definition of AWS. So AWS stands [00:05:00] for Amazon web services and they offer reliable, scalable, and inexpensive cloud computing services. It’s free to join and pay only for what you use.

Again, this is a very formal definition, but what does this actually mean? So let’s first discuss what is cloud computing? So cloud computing, this is basically what that means in that context of the definition that I just gave down. Amazon offers of what AWS is. So that means that Amazon owns the servers and we as users, we rent out space on their service.

It’s a pay as you go model so that you only pay for what you. And pay for, and you pay as you go. So as you, as your application grows or as your user based grows, and you may need more storage more server space you pay for what you get and for what you need. So again, like I said, AWS owns the service and we rent them.

And this is a great model because it solves a lot of problems that that come with having your own servers.[00:06:00] When you build this, like this transactional relationship with AWS and you allow them to handle the cloud computing side of things. Here are some of the things that AWS promises to do on their part.

And like I said this can make things a lot easier. They, a lot of the things that you’ll be that we’ll discuss moving forward, that AWS handles they offset a lot of the work that backend developers used to have to do. So one of the things that AWS does is. Handle scaling. So this solves a huge problem that could happen if you have a website or application some sort of app where all of a sudden, and we see this a lot nowadays, maybe sometimes like a, an online store will go viral or something like that.

And you get a huge increase in end users. AWS makes sure that they will automatically provision more. Without any hassle or panic. So you don’t have to worry about your website crashing or anything like that. Due to an increase in traffic, because they promise to handle scaling seamlessly.

So that is something that you don’t even have to [00:07:00] worry about. They also promise to maintain servers. And one thing I like to think about when it comes to like server maintenance is a lot of times, a server is a kind of computer. And for me, I use my laptop primarily. And sometimes if I leave my laptop, In like under my blanket or under my pillow or something like that, or even if I just set it on my bed for too long, it’ll start to overheat.

And this is a, this is imagine that time’s like a hundred with a bunch of service because services need to be maintained in an optimal environment where they won’t overheat or where they won’t be too damp or things like that. If you have a server that is not in optimal conditions, if it overheats or if it’s in a place that is too D.

Your service could crash. And this again, could cause problems for your website. Your website could go down because of server maintenance, but again, AWS promises to maintain servers. They promise to keep them in optimal condition so that you don’t ever have to worry about your website, possibly crashing because of some sort of issue with server mainten.

They [00:08:00] also pro promise availability and security. So if you ever, like we mentioned earlier, if your website goes viral and you suddenly need more space, you need more server space. They promise that service space that you need will always be available to you. And they also promise that it’ll be secure.

So these are some of the things that like AWS handles. And as you can see, this is some of these benefits are why AWS can be very attractive for someone who wants to. Offset, like I said, some of the things that backend developers usually have to handle or prior to the whole cloud computing phase era these are some of the things that backend developers like have to handle.

Hold on one second. So now we’ve I’m sorry. It is my, their right lie. I . Hold on one second. I’m so sorry. I’m having some weird issues. I’m gonna stop [00:09:00] sharing my screen really quickly. I apologize for the interruption. Okay. There seems to be an issue with the slide deck that I’m using, which is okay.

So I’m gonna share my screen again. As soon as I can figure out which screen, I totally apologize for the technical difficulties here today is a bad for technology for me. So for some reason, my slides are not showing up the way they should, which is totally okay. You’ll just have to for now, listen to me talk.

And I just discussed we just covered some of the thing that AWSs handles. and how a lot of those things, like I mentioned, align very closely with some of the things that backend developers usually have to do. It has picks up a lot of the burden. So we already mentioned like four of the main responsibilities of vacuum developers, which includes configuring servers.

It can [00:10:00] includes handling, building APIs and storing data and building databases and hosting those data. And these three things are things that you can do with AWS. These are things that AWS can make a lot easier as we already discussed. So like I said, now, maybe you can start to see how AWS crosses into the back end space and how.

It’s almost like you can accomplish two goals by getting into AWS. And this is the main reason why I say that AWS is a great gateway to backend development for front end developers or full tech development, I should say for front end developers because AWS aligns with so many things that backend developers do, and they provide so much tooling for backend developers and they make backend the responsibility of backend developers a little bit even to hand because of these things.

It is, it makes it easier for someone who is transitioning from like front end to cross into the full stack the full stack ground.[00:11:00] With this in mind, like I said AWS kind of handles some of those things like configuring servers during data building databases, hosting databases, and building APIs.

And with this. I wanna just reinforce that AWS provides a way to learn backend concept concepts and build backend application or build full set applications without the noise. So I’m gonna just rattle off. And again, I apologize that the slides are like, not in coordination with what I’m saying, but just bear with me.

I’m gonna rattle off some of the things that this is literally from like one of the AWS websites that talk about some of the things you’ll have to study for when you are. Studying for the CCP exam to certify file practitioner exam. These are the concept that they cover. They cover compute storage databases and under databases.

They also handle migration and data transfer and security. So these are things again that like align very closely with back in development. And these it’s as if AWS is providing a pathway to learn [00:12:00] backend. So one of. One of the problems with when you are learning any kind of new technology is that there’s so much out there.

You can, it can be hard to find like a direct pathway on how you can how you can become. Like a backend developer or a full sex developer. And so as a front end developer, that may be something that is intimidating for you. But AWS, basically, like I said, it it provides a pathway for you so that you can directly follow without having any confusion.

And like we already discussed that AWS could be very overwhelming, but that’s okay. I’m going to tell you. Now we’re here where you should start so that you can process this path into backend development using AWS or full sector program using AWS. So I recommend that you learn the AWS basics. So I would suggest that you study as if you’re preparing for the CCP exam.

I just read off some of the things that the CCP exam. And these are all things that have to do with backend development. And it’ll give you [00:13:00] the basis that will help you to move on to the next step, which is learning a service side language. So there are a bunch of service side languages out there.

I think depending which one you should choose depends on what your personal goals are, whether you’re doing this for professional leases, maybe at your job, we would like to transition into more of a full set role if that’s the. The language that you learn will probably more so align with whatever they use your job.

But like I said, just, you can learn a service side language. You can try out a couple different ones to see which one you like. I prefer Python is my favorite service side language, but it could be different for everyone. You can also learn a little bit of sequel which will help you building databases.

And I would also recommend that you learn about rests and Al APIs. Like I said, one of the roles of backend developer is to build APIs. So I would suggest that you try building both rest and QO and assess what the benefits of one is versus the benefits of the other. And again, these are all the things [00:14:00] that Beck end developers do.

So as you can see, like through AWS, if you follow this pathway, we’ll be making your way into becoming a full tech developer. And now with these. When you’re equipped with these things, you can move on to building full stack apps using AWS. So using your front and skills in tandem with the, some of the service eye language skills that you learned, some of the sequel that you learned, some of the API stuff that you learned, and with the AWS basis that, now you’ll be able to seamlessly build full stack applications.

Obviously that there, this is a lot to, this is a lot of information and there’s a lot that you’ll need to. But I value covered. Here are some resources here that I really value, or I found very valuable in learning more about backend development and in turn learning more about full, safe development.

So I, this, like I said, this talk really covers the what and the why Allie’s spits. She just gave a workshop like a couple months ago that was titled back in development for front [00:15:00] end developers. And she walks through how you can. A full stack app using AWS. So she covers the how so I think that if there’s if you don’t do anything else if you don’t have the time or the, or you don’t really want to go through the recipes learning resources, or if you can just, if you would just choose one, I would say, this is the one you should go with because she shows you how you can actually build full stack applications.

I’ve discussed why. Why it’s a good idea to do that or good idea to learn about full stack through AWS. She shows you how you can actually build the application. So definitely look that up on YouTube. Another resource that I found invaluable was the cloud new piece. Community’s a dis support group with a bunch of people who are interested in AWS.

Some people are AWS experts. Some people work professionally with AWS. Some people are like me or hobbyists. Some people are complete newbies and it’s a great community because you can go there to ask questions. If you run into any problems. And I found it invaluable in learning more about AWS. Another great [00:16:00] resource for me was the, a cloud was a cloud room.

They have a bunch of courses that, like I said earlier, I was saying that one of the best things you can do is to prepare for the CCPA exam. And they have a course that. Walks you through all the all kinds of questions that you’ll get on the CCP exam. I took this course and it helped me to pass my CCP exam.

So I definitely recommend that one. I think it is worth the investment. You can also go through the AWS white papers. I will say that the white papers are a little, it’s a tough read because it’s a little bland, but it’s definitely worth the. I also really egghead IO for learning more about like sequel and the service eye languages.

They have a bunch of courses that can help you with that side of things. And also folk academy. That’s how I learned how I started off learning Python as my circus eye. And I wanna go back to this to say that I don’t want you to think that I’m just like giving you a bunch of resources with nothing else.

I actually have a tweet that lists out all these [00:17:00] resource. So if you go to check out my Twitter account at EO unders sports, so that C E O R E O unders sport. If you go to check out my Twitter account, I will have the tweet pen with all the resources that I listed off here, plus probably a few more so that you can just go there instead of having to like quickly Google all of the stuff that I just mentioned.

And conclusion. I wanna like wrap things up in a nice little bow and basically say that AWS provides the roadmap for you to follow, to becoming a full sec developer. So they cover, we, we just discussed like what that in development is and how AWS fits in with that. So like I said, I recommend that you learn about AWS and then fill in the blanks that AWS doesn’t cover.

So like learning a service language that kind of. And then after that start to build, so you can use Allie’s workshop. I think it’s about two hours long. You can use that workshop shop to start off with building a full set application using AWS. This kind of [00:18:00] stuff will help you to put into practice the things that you learned.

So you can solidify the li the knowledge that you gained and then have proof that you are moving into the full stack side of things. And then I also recommend that you share. That you created with others, so you can share on Twitter. That’s usually what I do. You can share in disport communities like the cloud newbies community that I just mentioned.

These are things that you can do to like share with others, the knowledge that you gain to show like, as also a way to be proud of yourself and be openly proud of the practice that you need. And also the things that you’ve learned could be used to help other people as well.

Despite the technical difficulties that I’ve had during this presentation. I really appreciate everyone coming here to. I hope that it was enjoyable. And I hope that, like I said, despite the technical difficulties and the hiccups with the slides that that you were able to learn something, if you have any questions, like I said, please feel free to reach me out, reach out to me on Twitter.

My, like I said, my at my handle is at Sirio. So that [00:19:00] C E O R E O underscore. And I have that thread there that I will pin, as soon as this presentation was over. So you can go to my profile and you’ll see all those resources listed there for you to take advantage of.

Brian Rinaldi: Yes. Thank you, Sierra. I thank you.

We’ve all encountered those kind of difficulties. And I gotta say you handled it like a pro cuz if I had lost my slides, like I’d be like I’m. See, I got

Ceora Ford: I can’t believe that happened. I’m like, I really like the slides that CAMBA has, but like this happening and, Ugh, I don’t know if I’ll be able to use CAMBA, like after this.

Oh, anyway.

Brian Rinaldi: Yeah. It’s well we’re glad you made it through it. Funny story I did actually have, I knew one guy who walked out in the middle of his presentation, just yeah, I’m not doing this. Can you crazy? So that would’ve been me if I had lost my slides in the middle there, but alright.

I thought it was interesting the way you framed his stuff. Cuz I always I think I do a lot of serverless stuff. And that’s the [00:20:00] back end of my application and funny it cuz I always consider myself. A front end developer, not like a full stack developer, even though I guess, the way you frame it is, it’s we are building a backend.

It’s just, I came from backend development. I was used to managing my own servers and to like deploying, so like it doesn’t, it has a completely different field than like the traditional full stack element that I used to do. And I think there’s some people in the chat who in the question that’s being asked by Vivek is more like, how do you deal with not having that control over the environment that you’re deploying to?

Do you feel like you lose there’s a degree of control or you, do you feel like you gain more than you lose there?

Ceora Ford: I think this becomes a bigger issue, depending on like the size of your application. Like I think big businesses probably think a lot about like the, when it comes to should.

Straight away from like cloud services as much as possible because you do lose, like there’s a level of abstraction there, which is one of the reasons why I think it’s like a [00:21:00] great way to introduce yourself into backend development and introduce yourself into full sec development. And eventually, like the goal is to stray away from the AWS services and start to handle those things a little bit more on yourself, because it is like an extract.

And on top of the thing that you normally. But you do lose some control. And I think that’s like some of the. With that in mind, you have to think about what your goals are. Are you like me? I’m a hobbyist. So I don’t really mind not having as much control, but like for some people who are doing this for business reasons, or maybe you’re a part of a team that’s like deciding like how to move forward and how to.

Build your application or scale your application. These are, those are the kind of things you wanna think about. So I would say definitely it is true that you do lose some of the control because it is like an abstraction on top of like the thing that you normally do. But to consider whether this is like something that you, a path that you wanna take, definitely assess your goals and what you’re trying to accomplish, because for some people that could be a problem.

And for some it’s not. . Yeah.

Brian Rinaldi: I think in [00:22:00] my own experience, I having done that for so long, like if I never have to manage another server I’m totally cool with that. personally , and even like, when I didn’t, when I worked at companies and I didn’t manage them, They became my problem in a way, because like when the servers were having issues like database connection issues or the server was slow or going went down, like you were, if you were the on call person, you got the call.

Anyway, even though I’m like, it’s outta my area, the first call it’s like, Hey, the site’s down the site’s down. So I love not having to worry about any of that stuff.

Ceora Ford: see, I’m like you I like, I don’t want anyone calling me in the middle of the night oh, the servers down.

Plus I also feel like it, it also takes a li a little bit of the weight off your back in a certain way. Cuz you do like with AWS, you still do have to do some configuring with what kind of server you need and like what all that kind of stuff. But it does take some of the weight off your back as far as like responsibility, like when it comes [00:23:00] to if you do have a huge increase.

Users or something happens and you don’t have to worry about your website possibly crashing because of those things, which to me is that’s peace of mind. That’s totally worth it in my book. Like I said, again, it’s different for everybody. You gotta assess what your goals are and what you wanna accomplish.

But for me, I think it’s that’s amazing. That’s one of the biggest benefits of using something like AWS or any cloud provider, any cloud services. It’s I don’t have to think. In the middle of the night. Oh, there’s a flood in the basement where all my servers are and like my website crash, so that, that’s the one of the best parts to me.

Brian Rinaldi: Oh, geez. Yes. I remember one of the longest outages I had. Which these things can still happen. It’s not like they’re not, they don’t go down, but it’s just so rare in back. My hosting provider. They had an electrical storm and they lost power.

And if their generators couldn’t keep everything running. So it was down for a whole day, cuz the power was just out and it’s cuz I had a physical server there, one of the other things I was thinking[00:24:00] about in that along those lines is that, we used to have to maintain multiple servers.

Even sets of servers for the different environments that we were dealing, but serverless even that abstraction abstracts a way that complexity of spitting up different environments and replicating say a testing, a development environment versus a production environment is like I worked at a financial company for a long time.

And we had the, our development servers, our, staging servers and our production servers. And you’d think all of them should be the same, but they were never quite identical in that way. And so cuz they were always on different upgrade paths and stuff like that. So like moving from one to the next was always like, okay, we know there’s gonna, something’s gonna break but now we don’t even deal with that.

Even the deployment has become abstracted away. And to me, this it’s slight years better than what I used to deal with.

Ceora Ford: Yeah. Yeah. And this is why I see that. Now it’s a now that we’re in the age of so many people [00:25:00] are leaning toward using cloud services for it to do these things.

And it makes, we’ve just discussed like a number of ways that using AWS or whatever cloud provider. Makes these things easier. That’s why I think it’s like great for front and developers to like, ease their way into learning about backend. Because I know like years ago I probably would’ve been so intimidated by the idea of maintaining a server on my own.

Like that would’ve terrify me cuz it seems like a lot of responsibility. But with AWS, like taking the weight off your back with with those things? I think it just, I don’t know. It just makes, it makes it a lot easier and a lot more approachable in my opinion.

Brian Rinaldi: So Nick asked he says I barely use Python aside from modifying a Jango site.

I hear it’s great. I’m curious. What do you love about Python?

Ceora Ford: Python has a special place in my. Not because not for any like super technical reason, I’ll be up upfront about that. I learned Python went at a point in my life where I was like, starting to get back into tech. Like I [00:26:00] had. Been one of those people that learned how to code like on and off for a really long time.

And I really struggled with JavaScript because it just didn’t make sense to me. And because I would, what I was like on the path of learning HTML, CSS, and then I would start with JavaScript and then something would get difficult and then I would stop and then I would start the whole cycle all over again.

And then I got sick and tired of doing that. So I was like, you know what I’m gonna do now that I’m focused on like cloud stuff. And I like need to know a service side language. I’m gonna leave JavaScript alone. And I’m gonna just random. I just randomly decided to try Python and it made so much more sense to me.

Like for some reason, Python just clicked in my brain. I think there was sometimes where you like, use a language that just, I don’t know, you just vibe with kinda, and that’s how it was for me with Python. There’s no like particular, any super technical reason why I love Python so much. It just has a special place in my heart because it ignited my love for coding.

And I don’t even use it that much anymore, but for that specific reason, I always say that Python is like my FA favorite language. And what do you use mostly now? Like [00:27:00] my first love, I’m actually working a lot with grant QO now for my new role. So I. I’m in the midst of learning GRA QOL, which has been a lot of fun.

And surprisingly, it’s not, it hasn’t been that hard. And I think GRA QOL again, is almost like Python in that it’s clicking a lot for me in my brain. There’s not a lot of things that don’t make sense to me. Which, like I said, I struggle with JavaScript cuz something, I would just like what is going on but mostly what I’ve been working with is grad.

Brian Rinaldi: Okay. Cool. Cool. Yeah. I know for Apollo, you ha you do, the servers are built mostly. Like when you build your Apollo graph server, like a API you’re typically using JavaScript, or.

Ceora Ford: I think most people do use JavaScript, but I don’t, I’m like in a phase right now where I haven’t even, I haven’t built anything with JavaScript in a couple months, but I’ve just been spending time, like with solely with draft two L because I, this funny thing is I walk, I walked into this job without much gradual [00:28:00] experience.

So in order to be able to like, be a developer advocate and teach people about Apollo and about grant QL, I have to learn for it. So that’s what I’ve been. Yep.

Brian Rinaldi: Yep. I was there like, about a year, not a Apollo, but where, I didn’t know, I stepped into a role that I had to be all about GraphQL and I was, I understood queries and stuff a little bit, but once you start digging into writing schema and things like directives and all that stuff, it, what’s enjoyable about GraphQL is like the basics are easy to understand, but then it’s super flexible and you can do a lot with it.

Yeah I totally get you. .

Ceora Ford: Yeah. I’m at the point now where I’m on the happy path, so I haven’t run into any like huge issues yet. I’m sure there’s gonna be a point in time where I’m like, oh, this is getting a little difficult.

Brian Rinaldi: Yeah. Yeah. It does get to a point where it does get a little difficult.

It is really cool. I don’t miss though, the days of having to dig through I much prefer getting a graph Q API that. I can introspect stuff, as opposed to [00:29:00] like digging through yet another rest API docs and trying to figure out what are they sending me?

And then you get this giant Jason object and trying to figure out, okay, what do I need out of that? It’s just. It’s so much nicer. So not related specifically to serverless, but yes. ,

Ceora Ford: but in a way, if you tilt your head a certain way, you can see how it works.

Brian Rinaldi: Ex exactly. So thanks so much, Sierra, thanks for powering through all those issues.

You did great and, we’ve all been there for patience. Yeah, no, so that, that was great. Thanks so much for joining us.

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