Week 48, 2017 - GitHub Team Discussions; pre-re:Invent roundup

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GitHub introduces team discussions and a roundup of some of the announcements AWS wanted out of the way before re:Invent.

GitHub Team Discussions

GitHub has been introducing a number of services lately that extend the platform beyond a basic code repository. First they released the security alerts they referred to with the dependency graph introduction. Last week though, they made a move to make it a more complete development platform by adding a discussions option.

I haven’t played enough with it to see how well it works when you have a lot of discussions, but I do have some thoughts on the current limitations. While the idea of having discussions within GitHub can be nice, it seems to me to quite limited. I can certainly see the benefit in not putting lengthy discussions in pull requests, but the feature is currently limited to talking with other members of your organization. This will probably open up to wider use at some point, which should make it a lot more useful. To be honest, as it stands, this is trying to replace existing systems and I’m not convinced it’s a powerful enough offering for that.

pre-re:Invent Roundup

With re:Invent about to start, AWS released a number of features that weren’t good enough to be saved for it. FYor the past couple of weeks we got several new features per day. There are too many to mention them all, so I’ll just highlight a couple that I found particularly nice.

ACM now finally lets you validate a domain using DNS. Previously it was only possible to validate through email, which was always a weak point for ACM as that made it a lot harder to automate the process. The way it works is that you’ll need to add a CNAME record to your DNS, but if you’re using Route53 it can do so automatically for you. This is especially a big improvement for anyone doing this for clients as you don’t have to bother them to respond to an email. It’s also something that has long been available for Let’s Encrypt.

Tackling another weakness, it is now possible to update a state machine for Step Functions. Previously you could only create and delete state machines which made the development cycle a lot harder than it needed to be. Now you can update and test that things are working without extra steps.

CodeCommit is AWS’ answer to GitHub, but it was missing a major feature needed to make it useful: pull requests. This is now fixed as well and it’s possible to make pull requests, have people comment on them, and generally go through the regular git workflow. The only thing missing is the ability to “approve” a request. Oh, and I have to say, the UI looks remarkably like GitHub.

ECS now allows you to add an ENI to tasks/containers. Giving a container its own network adaptor is often unneeded, and the additional startup time might be unwanted, but it can be useful for certain cases. One such case might be if you have a service that you would like to have a static endpoint but doesn’t actually require a loadbalancer in front. This way if it fails over to a different underlying instance it can reuse the same ENI (provided it’s still in the same availability zone) and IP address.

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