Diagrams-as-Code Episode on Twitch

December 15, 2022 #aws #architecture #uml

So much fun on the Build On AWS weekly - Code me some diagrams Twitch stream today talking diagrams-as-code with Darko, and surprising him with this:

Darko on AWS

The PlantUML source code (except for the full base64 PNG).

@startuml Darko

!include <awslib/AWSCommon.puml>
!include <awslib/Compute/EC2.puml>
!include <awslib/DeveloperTools/CommandLineInterface.puml>
!include <awslib/General/all.puml>
!include <awslib/Groups/all.puml>
!include <awslib/ManagementGovernance/ManagementConsole.puml>

' truncating PNG for blog code sample
!function $DarkoIMG($scale=1)
!return "<img data:image/png;base64,iVBORw...ggg=={scale="+$scale+"}>"

' Groups are rectangles with a custom style using stereotype - need to hide
hide stereotype
skinparam linetype ortho
skinparam rectangle {
    BackgroundColor AWS_BG_COLOR
    BorderColor transparent

rectangle "$DarkoIMG()\nDarko" as darko
rectangle "$ClientIMG()\nCommodore 128" as client
  RegionGroup(region, "eu-central-1") {
    rectangle "$CommandLineInterfaceIMG()\nCLI" as cli
    VPCGroup(vpc) {
      rectangle "$EC2IMG()\nEC2" as ec2

darko -> client
client -> cli
cli -> ec2


I also got to talk about Architecture Decision Records and the context for when I choose diagrams-as-code over presentation software or drawing tools.

  • ADR001 - Use PowerPoint for presentations
    • AWS Solutions Architects deliver lots of customer facing presentations, many of which combine slides from existing presentations. These presentations are expected to meet the high bar for quality.
  • ADR002 - Use DrawIO (desktop) for documentation
    • Diagram images are included in project documentation, often created in markdown format.
  • ADR003 - Use PlantUML for sequence diagrams
    • Sequence diagrams help improve understanding of design across success and error use cases.

Some things didn’t make it on the show, but I played with both CloudGram and mingrammer Diagrams to attempt a recreation of PlantUML-based Figure 1 from Sequence Diagrams enrich your understanding of distributed architectures


  • AWS Icons have pre-rounded corners and were last updated 2 years ago
  • No multi-line label support
diagram "Figure 1" [direction=lr] {
  generic.user user [label="User", labelPosition="s"];

  group cloud [label="AWS Cloud",style=solid,stroke=black,opacity=0] {
    aws.cloudfront cf [label="Web Distribution", labelPosition="s"];
    aws.cloudfrontEdgeLocation edge [label="Origin Request", labelPosition="s"];
    aws.dynamodb dynamodb [label="Version Mappings", labelPosition="s"];
    aws.apiGateway api1 [label="API V1", labelPosition="s"];
    aws.lambdaFunction lambda1 [label="Function V1", labelPosition="s"];
    aws.apiGateway api2 [label="API V2", labelPosition="s"];
    aws.lambdaFunction lambda2 [label="Function V2", labelPosition="s"];

  user -> cf [label="(1)"];
  cf -> edge [label="(2)"];
  edge -> dynamodb [label="(3)"];
  cf -> api1 [label="(4)"];
  api1  -> lambda1;
  cf -> api2 -> lambda2;

Figure 1

mingrammer Diagrams

  • AWS Icons have pre-rounded corners and most were last updated 2 years ago.
  • Can generate GraphViz .dot file and directly takes graph/cluster/node/edge attributes
# using
from diagrams import Diagram, Cluster, Edge
from import User
from import CloudFront, CloudFrontEdgeLocation
from import APIGateway
from import Dynamodb
from import LambdaFunction

graph_attr = {
  "nodesep": ".3",
  "ranksep": "1.6"
cluster_attr = {
  "margin": "40",
  "fontsize": "18",
  "bgcolor": "white",
  "style": "diagonals",
  "penwidth": "3",
  "pencolor": "FFFFFF"
node_attr = {
  "width": "1.2",
  "height": "1.2",
edge_attr = {


with Diagram("Figure 1. High-level architecture diagram", graph_attr=graph_attr, node_attr=node_attr, edge_attr=edge_attr, show=False, filename="Figure1", outformat=["png", "dot"]):
  user = User("User")

  with Cluster("AWS Cloud", graph_attr=cluster_attr):
    cf = CloudFront("Web Distribution\nAmazon CloudFront")
    user >> Edge(label="(1)") >> cf
    # The order of rendered diagrams is the reverse of the declaration order.
    cf >> APIGateway("API V2\nAmazon API Gateway") >> LambdaFunction("Function V2\nAWS Lambda")
    cf >> Edge(label="(4)") >> APIGateway("API V1\nAmazon API Gateway") >> LambdaFunction("Function V1\nAWS Lambda")
    cf >> Edge(label="(2)") >> CloudFrontEdgeLocation("Origin Request\nAWS Lambda@Edge") >> Edge(label="(3)") >> Dynamodb("Version Mappings\nAmazon DynamoDB")

Figure 1

Kevin Hakanson

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