Written by Muhammad Omer Javaid
Edited by Simon Mackinnon
This was my first experience with the group. Given this was my very first time, I found it to be a perfect use of my time and it was a great motivation to kick start my learning about AWS services and programming.
The meetup has instructors from the wider AWS community. This workshop was led by Stefan Buchman, and Enterprise Solution Architect from AWS. His was was a perfect presentation with an excellent flow, starting with an introduction to the requirements (creating a chat application) which would be using a most demanding AWS/cloud stack.
The purpose of the meetup was to run through the steps of creating a chat application having features like offline/online/real time messaging including AI/ML capabilities e.g., sentiment analysis, language translation and many more.
The application was built using bleeding-edge (and a most demanding) technology stack from AWS, e.g., Cognito, AppSync, S3, DynamoDB, and Lambda. It also used various services from AWS like Lex, Polly, Translate, Rekognition and Comprehend. You can visit the links provided to go to the link for more details. Stefan provided a Github repo for people to clone and use to build this app (you can access it here).
The most exciting part for me was to learn a new web application development paradigm, React Progressive Web Application (PWA). PWAs combine flexibility of the web with the experience of a native application (where device hardware access is usually required traditionally).
The demo project/environment was already setup for meetup attendees, so they could download, configure and run that chat application on their local environment and then build/extend on top of it later. This was done using a CloudFormation script. Having this available for inspection gave a pretty good overview of the services required in such a sophisticated application. It was also really cool to see how easy creating new CloudFormation stacks are, and how repeatable the stack is, being defined as code.
The flow of the presentation was really good. Stefan opened with a primer discussion about the technologies that we were going to use. This then lead into spinning up the architecture, setting up the application (including authentication provided by Cognito via AWS Amplify).
By the end of the workshop, I was able to share a link to the application for people to see and use my finished app. It was really fun using the AI tools to translate what I wrote, or running sentiment analysis on the things sent to me. The ability of AWS’s Rekognition service to identify different celebrities was quite impressive as well!
As a side-note – this was based on a talk from re:Invent 2018. You can view a running version of it in that talk!
Overall, the environment was really good! The organisers had a wonderful group of assistants, who I found to be really helpful in some cases, especially when people were running into different problems, i.e. related to their local development environment setup, etc.
Being a new user of this AWS, after attending this workshop, I’m motivated to pursue exploring this stack further (and may come up with some idea later on to present within the same workshop!).
Apart from all technical stuff, the overall setting of the event was really friendly, open and professional. I met many other people from the IT industry, from a wide-range of backgrounds. The event is particularly good for networking. The facility also provided excellent lighting, air conditioning, internet, sitting arrangement, and really good refreshments and drinks.
I would highly recommend anyone interested in AWS to come and join. In doing so, you can become part of the community, get influenced or become an influencer, do some networking, and enjoy some food and drinks.
I really hope to see this group grow!