Exploring MongoDB Stitch… Backend as Service !!!

In my long software development career, I always felt that the most significant time taking task is not building the actual business logic, but the amount of code that you need for your basic housekeeping tasks or in other words the “basic chores” of an application developer.

Initially, these chores included session management, memory management, thread management, etc. With the introduction of boilerplate codes and frameworks, etc. these chores have been drastically reduced. Thus making and the development teams to focus more on the core business functionality.

However, most of the team end up re-inventing the wheel by writing these lots of essential features over and over again such as user Authentication, sending notifications to your customers, etc.

If the above mentioned is the story of Enterprises, the story is a lot worse for startups, The Problem of unwanted chores is a big predicament for them, as most of the time, they are starting the scratches.

If you look at the Basic chores, they include the following.

  • Authentication
  • CRUD of Data
  • Fine-Grained data access
  • Integrations with other services

Now looking at the overall cost of these chores it is not just the development time and effort, but the increased the code complexity, Testing efforts, etc.

MongoDB Stitch

MongoStitch is meant to address precisely these problems. In the last Annual Developer conference, MongoDB introduced MongoDB stitch as an addition Mongo Atlas, their Cloud-based “database-as-service.”

Though Atlas is available on most of the platforms, MongoStitch is currently supported only on AWS US East 1 region and its tailored as an add-on to the existing  MongoAtlast subscription.

Mongostitch allow you to create an application from your Atlas console, configure it by enabling the following

  • Add new features to your existing application
  • Control the access to data for user
  • Integrate with other services

Once you set up your MongoStitch application on the Console, you can use create its client application and start calling the MongoStitch functionalities from your application using the stitch client.

Currently, Stich clients are available for the following platforms

  • Browser and Node (JavaScript)
  • Android Application (java)
  • iOS Application (Swift)

Mongo had done an excellent job of providing detailed documentation, and you can use the getting started guide to build  sample applications

Though MongoDB Stitch is still in Beta, the features it offers looks very promising. Let us explore few of these features.

Collection/ Field-level permissions

MongoDBStitch allows the developer to specify the access for the collections.  These access rule could be defined either for the collection itself or can be specific to each field in the collection, Though you can specify these rules be aware that they will be overridden by the access that you would have provided at the MongoDB level

Stitch Admin Console 2018-01-04 19-59-16

Service Integrations

This is my favorite part, Integrating with other services are a breeze. As of Jan 2018, the following service integrations are supported by Stitch

Service Name Supported Services
S3 Upload file to S3, generate signed URL
Amazon SES Send Email
Github Webhooks
HTTP Services Basic HTTP calls (get, post, delete, put, patch, head)
GCM Push notifications to Apple and Android devices
Twilio Send and Receive Text Messages

Each of these service calls can be configured to have its own rules

Stitch Admin Console Service Integration

Authentication Services

User Authentication services using the following

  • E-mail and inline password
  • Google
  • Facebook
  • API Keys
  • Custom/Third party Authentication.

These integrations are super easy, and I was able to create a google and facebook login integration for my sample app within 15 minutes.

Stitch Admin Console Authentication

Values (Constants)

These are named constants that you can use in Stitch functions and rules.

Stitch Admin Console Values


The Functions in MongoDB stitch is written in Javascript and can be edited and tested using built-in function editors.

As of now, the ECMAS version 6 is not supported in functions.

Stitch Admin Console 2018-01-06 12-32-24

After playing around with MongoStich for a few days, I feel that this has lots of potentials and it can definitely improve productivity and helps you to focus on the core business logic.

Final Words

During my POC I wanted to extend my logged in users with additional attributes say for example I wanted to capture the address and phone numbers of my user,  however, MongoStich is saving the users in a different mechanism that is not really extendible and not visible as a collection.

Stitch Admin Console users

If Mongostitch allows the user information to be saved to a table that can be extended with any extended attributes that I wanted to add to that users it will make the life more easier for developers.

Here are some useful links on MongoDBStitch

Documentation: https://docs.mongodb.com/stitch/

Tutorials and Getting Started Guide: https://docs.mongodb.com/stitch/getting-started/

Let me know your thoughts …

Setting up Cloudwatch for Custom logs in AWS Elastic Beanstalk

Amazon Cloudwatch monitoring services are very handy to gain insight into your application metrics,  besides metrics and alarms you can use this to go through your application logs without logging into your server and tail the logs.

I ran into few issues when I was initially setting up Cloudwatch for my custom logs in the Elastic Beanstalk  Tomcat Application.  I will walk you through the whole process on this blog.

Setting up your application

In this example, I am using a Spring boot Application which will be deployed in ElasticBeanstalk Tomcat container.

.ebextension file

First, you need to create a .ebextention file for your application
Here is a working sample of the .ebextension file

"/etc/awslogs/config/mycustom.conf" :
mode: "060606"
owner: root
group: root
content: |
log_group_name = `{"Fn::Join":["/", ["/aws/elasticbeanstalk", { "Ref":"AWSEBEnvironmentName" }, "var/log/tomcat8/mycustomlog.log"]]}`
log_stream_name = {instance_id}
file =/var/log/tomcat8/mycustomlog.log*

The above configuration will create a custom configuration to copy logs from /var/log/tomcat8/mycustomlog.log to a log group named for my application and will copy over all the logs with the pattern mycustomlog.log

This line creates a configuration file mycustom.conf in the /etc/awslogs/config/mycustom.conf location. Once deployed you can SSH to this location to view your configuration.

"/etc/awslogs/config/mycustom.conf" :

The following lines create the log groups and create the scripts to copy over the files to cloudwatch

content: |
log_group_name = `{"Fn::Join":["/", ["/aws/elasticbeanstalk", { "Ref":"AWSEBEnvironmentName" }, "var/log/tomcat8/mycustomlog.log"]]}`
log_stream_name = {instance_id}
file =/var/log/tomcat8/mycustomlog.log*

Make sure that you check your .ebextension is a valid yaml before deploying this to your application environment.  I use http://www.yamllint.com/ to check the validity of my YAML’s 

Place your .ebextension file in the /src/main/resources/ebextensions/ folder of your project


Gradle Script

Now you need to update your Gradle scripts to make sure that you package your .ebextnsion file along with your war file

Update your Gradle Script to include the ebextension in the root of the file

war {
       from('src/main/resources/ebextensions') {
       into " .ebextensions";

With this gradle script, your war file should have a .ebextensions folder in the root and should have the mycustom.conf file in it.

Now let’s prepare your Elastic Beanstalk to enable the cloudwatch

Prepping up your Elastic Beanstalk  Environment

To enable Cloudwatch for Elastic Beanstalk you need the following

  1. Permission for Elastic Beanstalk to create log group and log stream
  2. Enable the Cloudwatch on the Elastic Beanstalk application

Login to your AWS Account, go to IAM and create a new Policy  similar to the following

Grant Permission to Elastic Beanstalk

    "Version": "2012-10-17",
    "Statement": [
            "Sid": "CloudWatchLogsAccess",
            "Action": [
            "Effect": "Allow",
            "Resource": [

Now attach this policy to “aws-elasticbeanstalk-ec2-role”

Enable CloudStream on your Elastic Beanstalk application

Go to your Elastic Beanstalk Application, Edit Software Configuration in the Configuration Menu

Configuration 2017-12-10 16-21-55

Enable Cloudwatch Logs from the settings

Configuration 1 2017-12-10 16-21-55

Once you do this the AWS will re-configure the system, now you deploy the war file created from the Gradle script.

Usually, AWS picks up the configuration after you deploy the new war file. if not restart the environment.

Go to the cloudwatch to verify your log stream

Troubleshooting Tips

As I said before I had issues while I was setting this up, if your configurations are not getting picked up go ahead with the following steps to  troubleshoot this issue

  • Make sure that your YAML is valid.
  • SSH into the Environment and make sure that the file created in the location /etc/awslogs/config/mycustom.conf is valid.
  • Check eb-publish-logs.log to see if it has any errors
  • Finally, if nothing works rebuild your environment.