Hosting my static site with AWS

Setting up CDK and hosting with S3

Recently I've been playing around a lot with AWS CDK, so much so that I decided to rewrite my blog to be more minimal and leverage the speedy development process that comes with IaC

This post assumes you already have an AWS account.

Set up your project directory with CDK:

mkdir <site-name>
cd <site-name>
npx cdk init --language=typescript

cdk init bootstraps the project directory, ready to define the infrastructure.

During the cdk init bootstrap, the file lib/<site-name>-stack.ts was generated, this is the file we will be modifying the entirety of this post. Lets get started!

Install and import these modules, they have the constructors to easily define a basic S3 web server:

npm i @aws-cdk/aws-s3 @aws-cdk/aws-s3-deployment
import * as s3 from "@aws-cdk/aws-s3";
import * as s3Deploy from "@aws-cdk/aws-s3-deployment";

Define the bucket and deployment within the constructor block (your bucket name must follow the S3 Bucket naming rules):

const bucket = new s3.Bucket(this, "Bucket", {
bucketName: "<bucket-name>",
websiteIndexDocument: "index.html",
publicReadAccess: true,
autoDeleteObjects: true,
removalPolicy: cdk.RemovalPolicy.DESTROY

new s3Deploy.BucketDeployment(this, "BucketDeploy", {
// Source our site files from `./site` dir
sources: [s3Deploy.Source.asset("./site")],
destinationBucket: bucket,

new cdk.CfnOutput(this, "BucketURL", { value: bucket.bucketWebsiteUrl });

The last line will produce an output so we can see the URL for our site printed to the terminal.

That's all we need to host a basic static site in AWS.

Lets create some assets to host and then deploy our site.

Create the directory for the static site assets with the path we referenced in our BucketDeployment and create an index.html file:

mkdir site
cat << EOF >> site/index.html
<!DOCTYPE html>
<h1>Hello from S3!</h1>

Now we're ready to deploy our site to AWS.

  1. Running cdk synth will generate the CloudFormation, great to spot any errors before attempting to deploy.
  2. Run cdk bootstrap as we are deploying assets to S3 (Bootstrapping), this is necessary once per account/region.
  3. Finally cdk deploy deploys the stack and provisions our infrastructure in AWS.
npx cdk synth
npx cdk bootstrap
npx cdk deploy

Upon deployment you'll be asked about IAM statement changes, I recommend reading these to get an understanding of the changes behind the scenes.

When the deployment is finished the Public URL should be printed out in the terminal, we can access this in a browser:

Hello From S3!

In my case, my bucket name was not globally unique and I had to change it. Before I could successfully deploy.

Distribute via CloudFront

Serving our site via an AWS CloudFront distribution promises a variety of benefits).

The following modules contain constructors for CloudFront, install and import them:

npm i @aws-cdk/aws-cloudfront @aws-cdk/aws-cloudfront-origins
import * as cloudfront from "@aws-cdk/aws-cloudfront";
import * as origins from "@aws-cdk/aws-cloudfront-origins";

Now define our new distribution with our existing bucket we made earlier as the origin:

const distribution = new cloudfront.Distribution(this, "SiteDistribution", {
defaultBehavior: {
origin: new origins.S3Origin(bucket)
defaultRootObject: "index.html"

// Print out the distribution domainName
new cdk.CfnOutput(this, "DistributionDomainName", {
value: "https://" + distribution.domainName,

CloudFront will serve files from our origin, in our case the we want to serve the index.html file.

We are also outputting the distribution domain name which we can later navigate to in our browser.

If you would like to enforce HTTPS connections, you can add the following line to the defaultBehaviour object:

viewerProtocolPolicy: cloudfront.ViewerProtocolPolicy.REDIRECT_TO_HTTPS

Since we are no longer using S3 as a web server, lets modify the bucket definition:

const bucket = new s3.Bucket(this, "Bucket", {
bucketName: "<bucket-name>",
autoDeleteObjects: true,
removalPolicy: cdk.RemovalPolicy.DESTROY

Lets try out these new changes, we can run cdk synth again to see the generated CloudFormation. Since we already have an existing stack in AWS, we are making changes to said stack. cdk diff will display an overview of these changes.

npx cdk synth
npx cdk diff

You will see that among other changes, the following new resources are going to be added:

The bucket policy will also be modified to grant read access to the new CloudFrontOriginAccessIdentity principle.

Lets try and deploy.

npx cdk deploy

On success, our CloudFront domain name will be printed to the terminal, serving the same S3 contents from earlier in the browser. Here is a link to the GitHub repo.

We should also add cache invalidation to our distribution which will clear the distribution's cache when we deploy changes to our site.

Modify our BucketDeployment with a reference to our distribution and which paths to invalidate:

new s3Deploy.BucketDeployment(this, "BucketDeployWithInvalidation", {
sources: [s3deploy.Source.asset("./site")],
destinationBucket: bucket,
distributionPaths: ["/*"],

Now simply just re-deploy the new changes and now have our own static website being distributed by AWS CloudFront, our site is also aware to changes and clears the cached content so that we are always distributing up-to-date content.

I've continued on from this post by adding Route53 in order to have a custom domain name for my static site.