Quick hack to monitor the health of a collection of AWS services

My SaaS app WP Lookout uses Amazon Web Services for hosting. I’ve had plenty of monitoring set up using both internal and external tools notifications, and these mostly output to a combination of a dedicated Slack channel and/or a Pushover notification that goes to my mobile device.

The one thing I didn’t have in place until recently was monitoring for the health of the specific group of AWS services the app depends on. With AWS offering many services spread across many parts of the world (as illustrated in the Very Long Service Health Dashboard), I wasn’t about to start monitoring all of the AWS infrastructure just to see if my particular app was affected.

They do offer a “Personal Health Dashboard” that’s supposedly more tailored to incidents affecting my AWS account, but I find it unintuitive and confusing to use, especially when it comes to setting up notifications to external services like Slack. In my online searching I found various services and tools that supposedly integrated the PHD into more standard monitoring and alerting options, but they were also either too complicated or seemed to require additional levels of paid AWS support plans that I didn’t want to take on.

So I decided to keep things simple and use the tried and true technology for polling information about external resources: RSS!

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My first CiviCRM extension: Slack notifications

I’ve started using CiviCRM for an organization I’m working with. If you’re not familiar with it, it’s an open source constituent relationship management tool for not-for-profits, political organizations and other entities that might have a need to manage relationships with supporters, volunteers, donors, members and so on.

I’ll try to reflect more soon on the process of getting started with CiviCRM; it was a little rocky. But to get myself familiar with CiviCRM’s inner workings, I decided to write a simple extension that would allow the organization to get Slack notifications when certain objects (contacts, contributions, pledges) were created or updated. I couldn’t find any similar existing extensions in their directory or in my searching.

Here’s the settings screen:

(with apologies for the weird extra bullets, can’t seem to make them go away yet) and here’s what a resulting Slack message might look like:

The extension is available on GitHub. I’m sure there are many ways to improve it, so issues and pull requests are welcome.

Update on April 20, 2021: the extension now provides a more flexible CiviRules action for Slack notifications instead of a standalone notification method, so some of the above information is outdated.