Obtaining Additional AWS Offerings

By John Paul Mueller

Because of the way Amazon has set up its site, you can easily miss those special offerings that might make the difference between an easy project and a hair-pulling one.

Enhancing ASW services directly

Many of the AWS services give you the means to update their functionality directly. The update falls outside the range of AWS configuration. For example, when working with EC2, you can install localized programming languages and associated libraries. The additional functionality enables you to upload applications and run those applications from within EC2. For example, you can create a custom web service that runs like the web services you use locally, but have a cloud-based approach that makes them more accessible and achieve greater reliability.

Of the various services, EC2 is the most flexible in its capability to accept third-party enhancements directly. Consequently, EC2 is the service that you should try working with first when it comes to adding functionality directly. This AWS article supplies the details on how to locate new software for your EC2 setup. This AWS article tells you how to install the packages after you find them. You should try to find and install a package that can prove useful in your development efforts, and then experiment with it to see what is possible to address your specific needs.

Employing Tools for Amazon Web Services

The Tools for Amazon Web Services page offers a complete list of all the tools that Amazon provides.This page actually contains links to four kinds of tools that you can use to make your development experience better:

  • Developer tools: These tools all help you develop applications in some way: storage, version control, building, testing, or deploying.
  • SDKs: Each SDK applies to a specific language, and Amazon supports most of the popular languages used today. The individual SDK entries include links that let you install the SDK, see its associated documentation, and learn more about what the SDK can do for you.
  • IDE toolkits: Each toolkit augments an Integrated Development Environment (IDE) regardless of language used. The two IDEs supported now are Eclipse and Visual Studio (both of which support multiple languages), but you may see more IDEs in the future. As with SDKs, the IDE entries include links that let you install the extended support, see its associated documentation, and learn more about what the toolkit can do for you.
  • Command-line tools: Other than the standard Command Line Interface (CLI) tools, Amazon also provides support for Windows PowerShell. As with SDKs, the command line tool entries include links that let you install the extended support, see its associated documentation, and learn more about what the command-line tools can do for you.

Wandering through Amazon Marketplace

Amazon Marketplace helps you locate third-party tools that you need based on search criteria you provide. You have a lot of choices to make in the Amazon Marketplace. Some of the choices aren’t apparent unless you spend time playing with the interface. For example, you can choose between AMI & SaaS or Desktop in the search field.

Amazon Marketplace
Amazon Marketplace gives you many choices.

The search filters also offer a great many choices. You can choose the software category, operating system, pricing plan, support type, free trial offering, delivery method, average rating, architecture (32-bit or 64-bit), region, and instance type. The software descriptions also provide you with the vendor name, product name, rating, version number, description, and all sorts of other useful information. Click one of the product links and you see even more information about that product, plus links to perform tasks such as downloading the software, when the option is available.

If the page seems a little daunting, you can always try the Amazon Marketplace home page. This page offers a gentler interface that lets you choose from the most popular offerings. In other words, Amazon offers to filter some of the options for you.

Getting Amazon-supported peer help

Amazon provides a wealth of forums on which you can ask for peer support with your AWS-specific issue. Many of the forums give language-specific support. In addition, Amazon developers do sometimes visit the forums to offer additional help beyond that normally offered by peers. Obviously, the level of support, even with Amazon employee help, doesn’t quite match the paid support option.

Fortunately, you don’t have to deal with English-only peer support. The Amazon forums support the Japanese, German, Portuguese, and Korean languages as well. You also have the option to review feeds using RSS, so you can keep up with what other developers are asking about as well (finding the answer that you need before you actually need it).