Custom Resources


In some circumstances your service may need to provision or access resources that fall outside the standard workflow. In this case you can use CloudFormation Lambda-backed CustomResources to create or access resources during your CloudFormation stack’s lifecycle.

Sparta provides unchecked access to the CloudFormation resource lifecycle via the RequireCustomResource function. This function registers a user-supplied CustomResourceFunction with the larger CloudFormation resource lifecycle.

In this section we’ll walk through a sample user-defined custom resource and discuss how a custom resource’s outputs can be propagated to an application-level Sparta lambda function.


Defining a custom resource is a two stage process, depending on whether your application-level lambda function requires access to the custom resource outputs:

  1. The user-defined CustomResourceFunction instance
    • This function defines your resource’s logic. The multiple return value is map[string]interface{}, error which signify resource results and operation error, respectively.
  2. The LambdaAWSInfo struct which declares a dependency on your custom resource via the RequireCustomResource member function.
  3. Optional - The template decorator that binds your CustomResource’s data results to the owning LambdaAWSInfo caller.
  4. Optional - A call from your standard Lambda’s function body to discover the CustomResource outputs via sparta.Discover().


This is the core of your custom resource’s logic and is executed in a manner similar to standard Sparta functions. The primary difference is the function signature:

type CustomResourceFunction func(requestType string
                                 stackID string
                                 properties map[string]interface{}
                                 logger *logrus.Logger) (map[string]interface{}, error)


  • requestType: The CustomResource operation type
  • stackID : The current stack being operated on.
  • properties: User-defined properties provided to RequireCustomResource (see below).
  • logger : Preconfigured logger instance

The multiple return values denote success with non-empty results, or an error.

As an example, we’ll use the following custom resource function:

// User defined λ-backed CloudFormation CustomResource
func userDefinedCustomResource(requestType string,
	stackID string,
	properties map[string]interface{},
	logger *logrus.Logger) (map[string]interface{}, error) {

	var results = map[string]interface{}{
		"CustomResourceResult": "Victory!",
	return results, nil

This function always succeeds and returns a non-empty results map consisting of a single key (CustomResourceResult).


The next step is to associate this custom resource function with a previously created Sparta LambdaAWSInfo instance via RequireCustomResource. This function accepts:

  • roleNameOrIAMRoleDefinition: The IAM role name or definition under which the custom resource function should be executed. Equivalent to the same argument in NewLambda.
  • userFunc: Custom resource function pointer
  • lambdaOptions: Lambda execution options. Equivalent to the same argument in NewLambda.
  • resourceProps: Arbitrary, optional properties that will be provided to the userFunc during execution.

The multiple return values denote the logical, stable CloudFormation resource ID of the new custom resource, or an error if one occurred.

For example, our custom resource function above can be associated via:

// Standard AWS λ function
func helloWorld(event *json.RawMessage,
	context *LambdaContext,
	w http.ResponseWriter,
	logger *logrus.Logger) {

	configuration, _ := Discover()

		"Discovery": configuration,
	}).Info("Custom resource request")

	fmt.Fprint(w, "Hello World")

func ExampleLambdaAWSInfo_RequireCustomResource() {

	lambdaFn := NewLambda(IAMRoleDefinition{},

	cfResName, _ := lambdaFn.RequireCustomResource(IAMRoleDefinition{},

Since our custom resource function doesn’t require any additional AWS resources, we provide an empty IAMRoleDefinition.

These two steps are sufficient to include your custom resource function in the CloudFormation stack lifecycle.

It’s possible to share state from the custom resource to a standard Sparta lambda function by annotating your Sparta lambda function’s metadata and then discovering it at execution time.

Optional - Template Decorator

To link these resources together, the first step is to include a TemplateDecorator that annotates your Sparta lambda function’s CloudFormation resource metadata. This function specifies which user defined output keys (CustomResourceResult in this example) you wish to make available during your lambda function’s execution.

lambdaFn.Decorator = func(serviceName string,
	lambdaResourceName string,
	lambdaResource gocf.LambdaFunction,
	resourceMetadata map[string]interface{},
	S3Bucket string,
	S3Key string,
	buildID string,
	cfTemplate *gocf.Template,
	context map[string]interface{},
	logger *logrus.Logger)  error {

  // Pass CustomResource outputs to the λ function
  resourceMetadata["CustomResource"] = gocf.GetAtt(cfResName, "CustomResourceResult")
  return nil

The cfResName value is the CloudFormation resource name returned by RequireCustomResource. The template decorator specifies which of your CustomResourceFunction outputs should be discoverable during the paren’t lambda functions execution time through a go-cloudformation version of Fn::GetAtt.

Optional - Discovery

Discovery is handled by sparta.Discover() which returns a DiscoveryInfo instance pointer containing the linked Custom Resource outputs. The calling Sparta lambda function can discover its own DiscoveryResource keyname via the top-level ResourceID field. Once found, the calling function then looks up the linked custom resource output via the Properties field using the keyname (CustomResource) provided in the previous template decorator.

In this example, the unmarshalled DiscoveryInfo struct looks like:

  "Discovery": {
    "ResourceID": "mainhelloWorldLambda837e49c53be175a0f75018a148ab6cd22841cbfb",
    "Region": "us-west-2",
    "StackID": "arn:aws:cloudformation:us-west-2:123412341234:stack/SpartaHelloWorld/70b28170-13f9-11e6-b0c7-50d5ca11b8d2",
    "StackName": "SpartaHelloWorld",
    "Resources": {
      "mainhelloWorldLambda837e49c53be175a0f75018a148ab6cd22841cbfb": {
          "ResourceID": "mainhelloWorldLambda837e49c53be175a0f75018a148ab6cd22841cbfb",
          "Properties": {
            "CustomResource": "Victory!"
          "Tags": {}
  "level": "info",
  "msg": "Custom resource request",
  "time": "2016-05-07T14:13:37Z"

To lookup the output, the calling function might do something like:

configuration, _ := sparta.Discover()
customResult := configuration.Resources[configuration.ResourceID].Properties["CustomResourceResult"]

Wrapping Up

CloudFormation Custom Resources are a powerful tool that can help pre-existing applications migrate to a Sparta application.


  • Sparta uses Lambda-backed CustomResource functions, so they are subject to the same Lambda limits as application-level Sparta lambda functions.
  • Returning an error from the CustomResourceFunction will result in a FAILED reason being returned in the CloudFormation response object.