In this example we will look at how to debug AWS Lambda functions with Visual Studio Code (VS Code) 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.


Create an SST app

Let’s start by creating an SST app.

$ npx create-sst@latest --template=minimal/typescript-starter vscode
$ cd vscode
$ 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": "vscode",
  "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 the HTTP API
  const api = new Api(stack, "Api", {
    routes: {
      "GET /": "functions/lambda.handler",

  // Show the API endpoint in the output
    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 { APIGatewayProxyEventV2, APIGatewayProxyHandlerV2 } from "aws-lambda";

export const handler: APIGatewayProxyHandlerV2 = async (
  event: APIGatewayProxyEventV2
) => {
  const message = `The time in Lambda is ${event.requestContext.time}.`;
  return {
    statusCode: 200,
    headers: { "Content-Type": "text/plain" },
    body: `Hello, World! ${message}`,

Adding VS Code Launch Configurations

To allow VS Code to set breakpoints and debug our Lambda functions we’ll add it to our Launch Configurations.

Add the following to .vscode/launch.json.

  "version": "0.2.0",
  "configurations": [
      "name": "Debug SST Start",
      "type": "node",
      "request": "launch",
      "runtimeExecutable": "${workspaceRoot}/node_modules/.bin/sst",
      "runtimeArgs": ["start", "--increase-timeout"],
      "console": "integratedTerminal",
      "skipFiles": ["<node_internals>/**"]

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. We are using this option in our launch.json.

"runtimeArgs": ["start", "--increase-timeout"],

Note that, this doesn’t increase the timeout of an API. Since those 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 open up your project in VS Code, you can set a breakpoint in your services/functions/lambda.ts.

Next, head over to the Run And Debug tab > select the above configured Debug SST Start, and hit Play.

Set Lambda function breakpoint in VS Code

The first time you start the Live Lambda Development environment, it’ll 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-vscode-my-stack: deploying...

 ✅  dev-vscode-my-stack

Stack dev-vscode-my-stack
  Status: deployed

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 VS Code

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 { APIGatewayProxyEventV2, APIGatewayProxyHandlerV2 } from "aws-lambda";

export const handler: APIGatewayProxyHandlerV2 = async (
  event: APIGatewayProxyEventV2
) => {
  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.

You should see the new message being printed out.

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, the one specified in your sst.json.

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 dev, 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


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 Visual Studio Code 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!