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    My favorite serverless project

    When's the last time your first project in a new technology was also your favorite? Doesn't happen very often ...🤔

    It happened to me in November 2018.

    Pat Walls of Starter Story fame posed a challenge: Build a startup in 24 hours.

    Absolute mad man. There's no way.

    Is there ... what if? No, no that's crazy. But maybe ... no hell no. Unless ...

    I have been paying someone $500/mo to do a boring task 👉 take my markdown, put images on imgur, screenshot tweets, code snippets, and youtube embeds, export to HTML and paste into a newsletter.

    That sounds automatable ...

    Fuck it, Pat Walls you're on!

    12 hours later, TechLetter.App was born. You see its output every time you read my email.

    And every day it feels like magic. 🧙‍♂️


    TechLetterApp showing off

    Write email in markdown. Paste into box on the left, get rendered HTML on the right. Basic markdown parsing and rendering. There's libraries for that.

    Here's where it gets cool 👇

    TechLetter.App uses an AWS Lambda to spin up a Chrome browser and take screenshots. Tweets, Youtube thumbnails, Instagram, code snippets, CodeSandbox, and a few more.

    How TechLetterApp takes a screenshot
    How TechLetterApp takes a screenshot

    Think about it – every time you paste a link, a few dozen steps go just right in a dance of magic:

    1. Markdown plugin recognizes a link
    2. Matches link to Regex of screenshottable stuffs
    3. Renders a <Screenshot > React component
    4. Component uses useEffect to make an API request
    5. DNS config maps request to my API Gateway
    6. API Gateway says "Oh, _that lambda"_
    7. AWS Lambda spins up a whole new server
    8. That server runs my JavaScript function
    9. Function starts a Chrome browser
    10. Browser loads the link (another magical dance)
    11. My code uses browser JavaScript to find the correct DOM node to use
    12. Tells browser to take a screenshot of that node
    13. Uploads screenshot to S3 as a file
    14. Returns the URL as an API response
    15. <Screenshot> component renders image

    All this in 3 seconds for $0. 😳

    The future boggles the mind my friend. You can try it at this URL 👉 link to my AWS Lambda

    Before you ask: Yes, a lot has happened to this Lambda over the years. Fixes to how Chrome works, tweaks to screenshots, new features, cleaned up the codebase recently. It's been a fun project.

    Even got 91 stars on GitHub despite being hardcoded for my usecase and with a Readme so out of date it's hilarious. I should fix that 😅

    Why I love this project

    Sometimes you love things just because they're cool. You don't need an excuse to be a nerd.

    And it's saved me countless hours and almost $10,000 in outsourcing cost. So that's nice. 😇

    Not bad for a few hours of hacking and $0 in hosting cost huh?

    What would you build, if running server code was a breeze? Hit reply

    Cheers, ~Swizec

    PS: want to learn serverless in a focused setting without investing 2 years of pain and reading random blogposts? Join my Serverless Workshop, sales close tomorrow. Also available in installments

    PPS: the distributed serverless data processing pipeline chomping through millions of events per day that I built at work sounds impressive on a resume, but it isn't cool

    Published on September 24th, 2020 in Uncategorized

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    Have a burning question that you think I can answer? Hit me up on twitter and I'll do my best.

    Who am I and who do I help? I'm Swizec Teller and I turn coders into engineers with "Raw and honest from the heart!" writing. No bullshit. Real insights into the career and skills of a modern software engineer.

    Want to become a true senior engineer? Take ownership, have autonomy, and be a force multiplier on your team. The Senior Engineer Mindset ebook can help 👉 swizec.com/senior-mindset. These are the shifts in mindset that unlocked my career.

    Curious about Serverless and the modern backend? Check out Serverless Handbook, for frontend engineers 👉 ServerlessHandbook.dev

    Want to Stop copy pasting D3 examples and create data visualizations of your own? Learn how to build scalable dataviz React components your whole team can understand with React for Data Visualization

    Want to get my best emails on JavaScript, React, Serverless, Fullstack Web, or Indie Hacking? Check out swizec.com/collections

    Did someone amazing share this letter with you? Wonderful! You can sign up for my weekly letters for software engineers on their path to greatness, here: swizec.com/blog

    Want to brush up on your modern JavaScript syntax? Check out my interactive cheatsheet: es6cheatsheet.com

    By the way, just in case no one has told you it yet today: I love and appreciate you for who you are ❤️

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