re:Invent 2016 – AWS Intros Visual Workflows For Distributed Apps A new tool that Amazon Web Services Inc. (AWS), introduced today at its reInvent 2016 conference, allows for visual workflows to build distributed applications without any coding. AWS Step Functions allows developers to connect different Web services and microservices to create complex distributed applications for use cases like document and data processing, DevOps and Web apps. For example, setting up a processing pipeline for photo uploads. It allows developers to use familiar tools and libraries to create robust apps that can scale as required in a cost-effective way, according the company. Jeff Barr, AWS spokesperson, wrote today that you can coordinate components of your app as a series of steps in a visual workflow. To specify and execute the steps in your application at scale, you can create state machines in Step Functions Console. “Each state machine defines a set states and the transitions between them. You can activate states sequentially or in parallel. Step Functions will ensure that all parallel states run smoothly before you move forward. States do work, make decisions and control the state machine’s progress. The product documentation states that the tool automatically starts, tracks and retries each step. Log information is also provided to help troubleshoot problems. Applications execute in the expected order. Pre-built blueprints for common workflows are available to help you coordinate your app components into the aforementioned sequential or parallel steps. The product’s website states that “AWS Step Functions makes modifying workflows and editing the sequence of steps easy without having to revise the entire application.” You can reuse components and steps without having to modify their code, allowing you to innovate faster and experiment with new ideas. Your workflow can accommodate thousands of components and steps so you can build more complex applications. A FAQ explains why AWS Step Functions should replace the Amazon Simple Queue Service. The FAQ states that AWS Step Functions should be considered if you need to coordinate service components for the development of highly scalable, auditable applications. If you need a reliable, highly-scalable, hosted queue to send, store, and receive messages between services, [SQS] is a good option. Step Functions tracks all events and tasks in an application. Amazon SQS requires that you implement your own application-level tracking, especially when your application uses multiple queues. The service comes with a free Tier that allows for 4,000 state transitions per month. You can find full pricing details here. It is now available in the US East, US East (Ohio), US West(Oregon), EU [Ireland] and Asia Pacific (Tokyo). More information at re:Invent 2016.

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