In this example we will look at how to debug AWS Lambda functions with IntelliJ IDEA Ultimate using SST.

SST allows you to build and test Lambda functions locally using Live Lambda Development. This means that you can attach breakpoints and inspect your Lambda functions locally, even if they are invoked remotely.

Here is a video of it in action.

Let’s look at how.

Requirements

Create an SST app

Let’s start by creating an SST app.

$ npx create-sst@latest --template=minimal/typescript-starter intellij-idea
$ cd intellij-idea
$ npm install

By default, our app will be deployed to an environment (or stage) called dev and the us-east-1 AWS region. This can be changed in the sst.json in your project root.

{
  "name": "intellij-idea",
  "region": "us-east-1",
  "main": "stacks/index.ts"
}

Project layout

An SST app is made up of two parts.

  1. stacks/ — App Infrastructure

    The code that describes the infrastructure of your serverless app is placed in the stacks/ directory of your project. SST uses AWS CDK, to create the infrastructure.

  2. services/ — App Code

    The code that’s run when your API is invoked is placed in the services/ directory of your project.

Setting up our API

For this example we’ll be testing using a simple API endpoint.

Our API is defined in the stacks/MyStack.ts.

import { Api, StackContext } from "@serverless-stack/resources";

export function MyStack({ stack }: StackContext) {
  // Create a HTTP API
  const api = new Api(stack, "Api", {
    routes: {
      "GET /": "functions/lambda.handler",
    },
  });

  // Show the endpoint in the output
  stack.addOutputs({
    ApiEndpoint: api.url,
  });
}

Adding function code

Our functions are stored in the services/ directory. In this case, we have a simple Lambda function that’s printing out the time the request was made.

Replace your services/functions/lambda.ts with.

import { APIGatewayProxyHandlerV2 } from "aws-lambda";

export const handler: APIGatewayProxyHandlerV2 = async (event) => {
  const message = `The time in Lambda is ${event.requestContext.time}.`;
  return {
    statusCode: 200,
    headers: { "Content-Type": "text/plain" },
    body: `Hello, World! ${message}`,
  };
};

Adding IntelliJ IDEA Debug Configuration

To allow IntelliJ IDEA to set breakpoints and debug our Lambda functions we’ll add it to our Debug Configurations.

Select the package.json from the left panel, click on the ▶️ icon next to the start script, and then select Modify Run Configuration.

Select run icon beside start script in IntelliJ

It will open up a dialog where you need to configure the settings as per the project, IntelliJ IDEA does it automatically for us. Make sure your settings looks like below.

Create run configuration in IntelliJ

Extending Lambda function timeouts

Since we are going to set breakpoints in our Lambda functions, it makes sense to increase the timeouts.

SST has an --increase-timeout option that increases the function timeouts in your app to the maximum 15 minutes.

Add --increase-timeout to the arguments to increase the timeout.

Set increase timeout in run configuration in IntelliJ

Note that, this doesn’t increase the timeout of an API. Since the API Gateway timeout cannot be increased for more than 30 seconds. But you can continue debugging the Lambda function, even after the API request times out.

Starting your dev environment

Now if you navigate to services/functions/lambda.ts, you can set a breakpoint.

Click on Debug button to start the debugging

Set Lambda function breakpoint in IntelliJ

The first time you start the Live Lambda Development environment, you will be prompted to enter a stage name to use locally. If you are working within a team, it is recommended that you use a stage that’s specific to you. This ensures that you and your teammate can share an AWS account and still have standalone environments. Read more about this over on our docs.

Note that the prompt will be shown under the Process Console tab.

Enter stage name in Process Console

It’ll then take a couple of minutes to do the following:

  1. It’ll bootstrap your AWS environment to use CDK.
  2. Deploy a debug stack to power the Live Lambda Development environment.
  3. Deploy your app, but replace the functions in the services/ directory with ones that connect to your local client.
  4. Start up a local client.

Once complete, you should see something like this.

===============
 Deploying app
===============

Preparing your SST app
Transpiling source
Linting source
Deploying stacks
dev-intellij-idea-my-stack: deploying...

 ✅  dev-intellij-idea-my-stack


Stack dev-intellij-idea-my-stack
  Status: deployed
  Outputs:
    ApiEndpoint: https://siyp617yh1.execute-api.us-east-1.amazonaws.com

The ApiEndpoint is the API we just created. Now if you head over to that endpoint in your browser, you’ll notice that you’ll hit the breakpoint.

Hitting a breakpoint in a Lambda function in IntelliJ

Making changes

An advantage of using the Live Lambda Development environment is that you can make changes without having to redeploy them.

Replace services/functions/lambda.ts with the following.

import { APIGatewayProxyHandlerV2 } from "aws-lambda";

export const handler: APIGatewayProxyHandlerV2 = async (event) => {
  return {
    statusCode: 200,
    headers: { "Content-Type": "text/plain" },
    body: `Hello, World! Your request was received at ${event.requestContext.time}.`,
  };
};

Now if you head back to the endpoint.

https://siyp617yh1.execute-api.us-east-1.amazonaws.com

You should see the new message being printed out.

Making improvements

If you’re running into any memory issues while debugging, you can disable the unused plugins and exclude the folders that are not included in the source code. Right click on the folder and mark it as Excluded. In this case we are marking the node_modules/ directory as Excluded.

Exclude folders in IntelliJ

Deploying your API

Now that our API is tested and ready to go. Let’s go ahead and deploy it for our users. You’ll recall that we were using a dev environment.

However, we are going to deploy your API again. But to a different environment, called prod. This allows us to separate our environments, so when we are working in our local environment, it doesn’t break the API for our users.

Run the following in your terminal.

$ npx sst deploy --stage prod

A note on these environments. SST is simply deploying the same app twice using two different stage names. It prefixes the resources with the stage names to ensure that they don’t thrash.

Cleaning up

Finally, you can remove the resources created in this example using the following command.

$ npx sst remove

And to remove the prod environment.

$ npx sst remove --stage prod

Conclusion

And that’s it! You’ve got a brand new serverless API. A local development environment, to test and make changes. And you can use IntelliJ IDEA to debug and set breakpoints in your Lambda functions. Check out the repo below for the code we used in this example. And leave a comment if you have any questions!