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Cron job on a Node.js + Express Serverless app using AWS CLI

Serverless computing, while still nascent, is growing in popularity. Hiding the deployment infrastructure from the developer, lets companies do what they do best – develop products. Serverless deployments lower administrative overhead, reduce cost, and increase scalability.
In this tutorial, we deep dive into setting cron jobs on AWS Lambda with CloudWatch events to make it Serverless.


Typical use case

Let’s look at the use case:
We need to fetch data from social networks and save it into the database/Elasticsearch. A similar use case could be to send an email every morning for a specific event.
I decided to use Claudia.js – a tool that automates the deployment of AWS Lambda and API Gateway configurations. AWS CLI was used to run the cron job on AWS Lambda with the Cloudwatch event.
Before we get to the task of creating the cron job, we need to create a Node.js app or service using Express. We then make this app or service Serverless and lastly, we need to attach the cron job to it.
The entire build is a three-part process:

  1. Build a Node.js application using the Express framework
  2. Make it Serverless by deploying AWS Lambda using Claudia
  3. Use AWS CLI to run the cron job on AWS Lambda with the CloudWatch event

Build Node.js application using the Express framework

Here is a step-by-step tutorial to create a “Hello world” application, using NodeJs and Express framework.
Create a folder with any name. Within that folder, create an index.js file with the following code snippet in it.

Build Node.js application using the Express framework
Create a Node.js app using the  npm init -y command on your terminal. You must ensure that the active folder is the one that contains the  index.js file.
Run  npm install express from your terminal to install the Express Web Framework.
Run  node index.js and visit http://localhost:3000 in your browser. You should now see the “Hello world!” message.


Make it Serverless by deploying AWS Lambda using Claudia

This section focuses on deploying an existing Node.js app on AWS Lambda using Claudia. Click here for Claudia’s documentation. As is obvious, a Serverless API consists of AWS Lambda and Gateway.
To deploy and make the existing Node.js “Hello World!” app into a Serverless API, we need to modify the current index.js file in such a way that it supports AWS Lambda and the deployment using Claudia.
Our modified index.js file is as follows:

modify the current index.js file in such a way that it supports AWS Lambda and the deployment using Claudia
Let’s run the application on a local machine and create another file with the name  index-local.js. This enables you to run your Node.js app from a local machine using the command  node index-local.js.
This enables you to run your Node.js app from a local machine using the command node index-local.js
Before running Claudia on your terminal you must have access to your AWS access credentials. We now install Claudia in our Node.js app (locally) by running  npm install claudia. To run Claudia globally, use the command  npm install -g claudia. See  here for more information on installing Claudia.


Create a wrapper for AWS Lambda

Next, we generate a wrapper function to get the Node.js app working with AWS Lambda. This function already exists in Claudia and can be generated using this command:
claudia generate-serverless-express-proxy –express-module index
In the above command, index is the name of the entry file without the .js extension. You should see the following screen:

This command will also create the default file lambda.js  file containing your Lambda function as follows:
create the default file lambda.js containing your Lambda function
We are now very close to completing the deployment. To deploy the created Lambda function on AWS and generate the proxy API, enter the following command:
claudia create –handler lambda.handler –deploy-proxy-api –region us-east-2 –memory 512 –timeout 30


  • the ‘region’ parameter is used to specify the region where you wish to create your Lambda resource
  • the ‘memory’ parameter is used to specify the memory in MB. Memory should be a multiple of 64, and the default memory is 128MB
  • the ‘timeout’ parameter is used to indicate the function execution time, in seconds

This command shows the following output after sending your Node.js app to Lambda:

after sending your Node.js app to Lambda
Now, visit this URL listed in the JSON. You should see the “Hello World!” text in your browser.
Hurray, this works! This completes our Serverless deployment on AWS. Now let’s move on to the last part of running cron jobs on AWS Lambda.


Use AWS CLI to run the cron job on AWS Lambda with the CloudWatch event

Let’s consider, the following use case:
The Lambda function fetches data from different social networks and updates the database. It needs to schedule the events at a specific time each day. The function also sends an email to all employees at 8.00 AM every day and a text message to all users once every week.
Before moving forward ensure that you have installed AWS CLI. Click here for more information on how to do this.
If you observe, the index.js file contains a console.log(“Triggered lambda function at scheduled event”) statement. This enables us to identify an event in the AWS log after triggering the cron job on it.
Follow these commands to run the cron job on the “Hello World!” Lambda function:
To run the cron job or schedule the event after every 5 minutes, enter the following command on your terminal.
aws events put-rule –name helloWorldRule –schedule-expression ‘cron(0/5 * * * ? *)’

  • the ‘name’ helloWorldRule – provides the name of the rule. This name can be set to anything and is up to the developer.
  • the ‘schedule-expression’ ‘cron(0/5 * * * ? *)’  – this is a cron expression that will invoke every 5 minutes.

For more schedule expressions use this link.
The above command will show the following output:

‘ARN’ stands for Amazon Resource Names which represents the unique identification of the AWS Resource.
Enter the following command, to invoke the AWS Lambda function based on the created rule.
aws lambda add-permission –statement-id hello-scheduled-message –action lambda:InvokeFunction –principal –source-arn arn:aws:events:us-east-2:445420586144:rule/helloWorldRule –function-name nodecronjob –region us-east-2


  • ‘statement-id’ – The hello-scheduled-message is the statement id
  • ‘action’ – It is an action to invoke the Lambda function
  • ‘source-arn’ – This is an Amazon Resource Name of the CloudWatch event rule received from the previous command
  • ‘function-name’ – This is a function name that is available in the claudia.json file
  • ‘region us-east-2’ – This is the region name also found from the claudia.json file

The above command provides the following JSON response:

These final commands set the event:
aws events put-targets –rule helloWorldRule –targets “Id”=”1″,”Arn”=”arn:aws:lambda:us-east-2:445420586144:function:nodecronjob”
Here, ‘ARN’ is the value from the previous command. This command shows the following output:
We have now successfully run and scheduled the cron job on the “Hello World!” Lambda function. How do we know if the cron job is active? The AWS logs would let us verify.
The logs show the trigger message in the  console.log() statement and the time it triggered.
There are several ways to make Node.js + Express applications Serverless. However, I have tried to explain a way where results can be achieved in minimal time and commands for creating and invoking the function and deployment.
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