Cloud Functions / Serverless Functions was first clicked for me when I saw and tried Auth0 (now disabled) Online assignment. It was a bit like CodePen HERE but you really don’t Look nothing but codes and logs. The intent was to write small bits from the node when you click on the function URL (literally, that’s exactly the serverless function). It will even save you secrets for you, which means you can use the serverless function a proxy server. You hit a function, the function hits the API using your undisclosed API key secrets, the API returns the data, the function then returns the data, and that data is available to the client side. The whole point was 1) you can grab data from an otherwise completely static website and 2) your API key is protected. Glorious.

I still miss Webtask, but I’m sure there are better and cooler things these days. I don’t have a stable grip on the whole landscape. Even AWS has an online editor for lambdai (“lambda“It’s a standard implementation of AWS for serverless functionality), but using the AWS console directly for anything isn’t usually a very good thing. AWS Amplify functions there is probably a better bet.

I think the right modern way to build these things is…

But there are all sorts of other tools that look pretty modern that I just can’t talk about as well, but look good:

But what makes me think all this and is also one of those things that I have no personal experience with is Pipedream. I heard about it through Raymond, who has a story similar to mine:

One of the first things that interested me about serverlessness, and frankly it’s not that new, is the ability to build proxies to other APIs. For example, imagine a cool API that requires some form of authentication, such as an API key. If you use this in client-side JavaScript, anyone can view your code and get your key. Better services allow the key to be locked to the domain, but if you don’t have this option, simple serverless use is simply giving you an endpoint that calls the API with your key.

Raymond Camden, “Using Pipedream as a Proxy for Other APIs”

Pipedream looks pretty great:

It’s not just web based HERE for formatting functions, but I can launch it in several ways – of course a URL, but also with a CRON device or via email or RSS, for example. Neat. See also all other options. Relaxed? GitHub? Twitter? It’s a bit like how Zapier it seems just where Zapier isn’t completely uncoded (in my opinion). Pipedream makes the code a first-class citizen.

And it makes secrets at the account level environmental variables.

Pipedream screen for environment variables.  The dark gray sidebar is on the left and has various menu options where Settings is the currently selected item in the vertical list.  To the right of the screen is the information for the environment variable and the section that defines it, an example, and then a bright blue button to create a new environment variable.

So it is perfect as a serverless proxy. Read Raymond’s post for actual implementation and code examples.

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