Deploy an AWS Lambda Function from the Terminal

Lambda's GUI is perfect for toying with your function's code, but what if you have Node dependencies or additional files you want to upload from your local machine or CI/CD? Learn how to deploy from your terminal in this article.

Published 1 month ago | Updated 1 month ago
Tips & Tricks Tooling

My last article gave a quick run-down on how you can invoke a Lambda function from your terminal. I've had a few people message me asking how I deploy / upload my Lambda functions to AWS.

Here is how I do it.

Zipping up your code

When you upload your Lambda function, you'll want to provide a ZIP file that contains all of the necessary code. I mostly write Node functions these days, so my ZIP files generally contain a node_modules folder, an index.js file and a package.json file too so I can quickly check what dependencies I'm using from the Lambda UI.

On UNIX machines, you can use the zip command to generate a ZIP file. As an example, you might run something like this:

zip -r .

This command will create a new file, compressing the contents of the current directory (or .).

If you need to exclude some files, you can use the -x option. This is handy if you have a generic input.json or output.json file, as described in my other article.

zip -r . -x output.json input.json

Deploying to AWS

Now that we've got a ZIP file with our Lambda function's dependencies and handler, we can finally deploy to AWS. AWS have, surprisingly, made this very simple using the AWS CLI.

aws lambda update-function-code --function-name NameOfFunctionHere

We haven't told the AWS CLI what to deploy though. In our case it will be a ZIP file, so let's use the --zip-file option and specify the correct file.

aws lambda update-function-code --function-name NameOfFunctionHere --zip-file fileb://

The fileb:// protocol is used because we're uploading binary data.

Condensing this down

You might have already guessed it, but I don't actually type out this entire command each time. I like putting these commands inside of NPM "scripts" so that I can quickly run them with npm run or yarn.

    "scripts": {
        "zip": "zip -r . -x output.json input.json",
        "deploy": "npm run zip && aws lambda update-function-code --function-name NameOfFunctionHere --zip-file fileb://"
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