AWS CloudFormation vs Emacs: What are the differences?
Developers describe AWS CloudFormation as "Create and manage a collection of related AWS resources". You can use AWS CloudFormation’s sample templates or create your own templates to describe the AWS resources, and any associated dependencies or runtime parameters, required to run your application. You don’t need to figure out the order in which AWS services need to be provisioned or the subtleties of how to make those dependencies work. On the other hand, Emacs is detailed as "The extensible self-documenting text editor". GNU Emacs is an extensible, customizable text editor—and more. At its core is an interpreter for Emacs Lisp, a dialect of the Lisp programming language with extensions to support text editing.
AWS CloudFormation can be classified as a tool in the "Infrastructure Build Tools" category, while Emacs is grouped under "Text Editor".
Some of the features offered by AWS CloudFormation are:
- AWS CloudFormation comes with the following ready-to-run sample templates: WordPress (blog),Tracks (project tracking), Gollum (wiki used by GitHub), Drupal (content management), Joomla (content management), Insoshi (social apps), Redmine (project mgmt)
- No Need to Reinvent the Wheel – A template can be used repeatedly to create identical copies of the same stack (or to use as a foundation to start a new stack)
- Transparent and Open – Templates are simple JSON formatted text files that can be placed under your normal source control mechanisms, stored in private or public locations such as Amazon S3 and exchanged via email.
On the other hand, Emacs provides the following key features:
- Content-sensitive editing modes, including syntax coloring, for a variety of file types including plain text, source code, and HTML.
- Complete built-in documentation, including a tutorial for new users.
- Full Unicode support for nearly all human languages and their scripts.
"Automates infrastructure deployments" is the top reason why over 36 developers like AWS CloudFormation, while over 57 developers mention "Vast array of extensions" as the leading cause for choosing Emacs.
Expedia.com, TimeHop, and NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory are some of the popular companies that use AWS CloudFormation, whereas Emacs is used by Webedia, Edify, and Taskulu. AWS CloudFormation has a broader approval, being mentioned in 195 company stacks & 75 developers stacks; compared to Emacs, which is listed in 96 company stacks and 68 developer stacks.
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We use Terraform because we needed a way to automate the process of building and deploying feature branches. We wanted to hide the complexity such that when a dev creates a PR, it triggers a build and deployment without the dev having to worry about any of the 'plumbing' going on behind the scenes. Terraform allows us to automate the process of provisioning DNS records, Amazon S3 buckets, Amazon EC2 instances and AWS Elastic Load Balancing (ELB)'s. It also makes it easy to tear it all down when finished. We also like that it supports multiple clouds, which is why we chose to use it over AWS CloudFormation.
I use Terraform because it hits the level of abstraction pocket of being high-level and flexible, and is agnostic to cloud platforms. Creating complex infrastructure components for a solution with a UI console is tedious to repeat. Using low-level APIs are usually specific to cloud platforms, and you still have to build your own tooling for deploying, state management, and destroying infrastructure.
However, Terraform is usually slower to implement new services compared to cloud-specific APIs. It's worth the trade-off though, especially if you're multi-cloud. I heard someone say, "We want to preference a cloud, not lock in to one." Terraform builds on that claim.
Terraform Google Cloud Deployment Manager AWS CloudFormation
Manually clicking around the AWS UI or scripting AWS CLI calls can be both a slow and brittle process.
We needed to be able to reconstruct CloudRepo's infrastructure in case of disaster or moving to another AWS Region.
Setting up our infrastructure with CloudFormation allows us to update it easily as well as duplicate or recreate things when the need arises.
Opstax uses CloudFormation for anything infrastructure related! CloudFormation allows us to use infrastructure-as-code as a constant blueprint/map of our environment. It means we can accurately and efficiently deploy replicated or new infrastructure with no time wasted clicking around and no human error.
Manage infrastructure as codes. Native AWS solution so it has better support to AWS resources than Terraform, also can leverage AWS Business Support.
Emacs is my text editor/frontend to git/ blog editor/ filesystem explorer/ tool for editing remote files.