AWS goes live with Amplify Studio: Quick, cloud-hosted application building

AWS this week declared that Amplify Studio, a rapid application builder introduced in preview at the re:Invent conference late year, was ready for production. There have been a number of enhancements since preview, including the addition of new target platforms, whereas the initial preview was only for React web applications.

Amplify Studio now builds applications where the front end is JavaScript or TypeScript using React, View, Angular or React Native, or Google’s cross-platform Flutter, or Android using Java or Kotlin, or native iOS with Swift.

A notable absentee is Microsoft’s .NET platform. The generally available version also adds new features  including event handlers for user interface events and component theming. Amplify Studio is a visual builder for the AWS Amplify framework, though not everything in Amplify is included.

The idea of Amplify Studio is to provide a visual environment for building complete applications quickly. It is most at home when used with the cloud-based Figma design tool and the React framework. Developers or designers can maintain visual components in Figma and keep them in sync with an Amplify Studio project. Visual components can be bound to data.

An AWS sample component in Figma, ready for use in Amplify Studio
An AWS sample component in Figma, ready for use in Amplify Studio

Amplify Studio includes tools that abstract database management. Developers build a data model including entities, fields and relationships. Amplify Studio provisions DynamoDB tables on its cloud platform, and a local DataStore which automatically syncs data between a mobile or web application and the DynamoDB. File storage is also built in, using the AWS S3 service.

Authentication and authorization is also provided, using the AWS Cognito service, which can also be with Apple, Facebook, Amazon or Google logins. Authorization features include the ability to create groups of users and add rules that define their level of access.

Although there is no charge for using Amplify Studio itself, it is deeply integrated with the AWS platform and users pay for resources consumed. No doubt one of the goals of the tool is to attract more usage for various services, and the integrated tools make it easy to add features based on Amazon API Gateway (Graph and REST APIs), Lambda functions, analytics with Pinpoint (marketing communications) and Kinesis (data streaming), AI and ML services for things such as text to speech, image recognition and chatbots.

While Amplify Studio looks promising for rapid development on the AWS platform, developers have complained of quality issues with the underlying Amplify framework. “Common use cases weren’t handled well, deployment failures were common, overall architecture was actually less coherent when using amplify than just the constituent AWS services directly,” said one developer on Hacker News, while another noted that “deployment errors are thankfully rare these days, but things that should be easy are hard, and there are many seemingly obvious use cases that the Amplify CLI doesn’t handle.”

Developers can review the GitHub repository to assess the framework’s progress towards maturity.