AWS Service Acronyms

I work with some of the most intelligent people I may have ever met.

It seems that a good deal of these brilliant minds focus on AWS, or Amazon Web Services. It’s also much of what’s important to our enterprise right now, so it’s logical. I also focus on AWS (partly). A portion of the people with whom I work appear to use the acronym CF for AWS CloudFormation. But, that acronym is reserved for Amazon CloudFront. How do they not know this? How do I know this!? It’s of no surprise, but I see this acronym used incorrectly outside work, as well. Here’s one: I won’t deny that CF does make sense. I’ll agree to that, but not alongside the consideration of Amazon CloudFront.

I’ve yet to find that single source of AWS acronyms. Or have I?

AWS has authored two PowerShell modules (one for Windows PowerShell and one for the cross-platform version: PowerShell), with the term AWSPowerShell included in the name. They are both at version 3.3.563.1 and have over 5,900 Cmdlets (pronounced, but not spelled as, “commandlets” [for those that don’t work closely with PowerShell in any form, but may end up here]). There are over 6,200 total items in each of these two modules, if you include the aliases. The PowerShell command naming convention best practice is to use an approved verb (the Get-Verb Cmdlet returns a list of those), a dash, and a singular noun. If more than one noun is used, developers should use CamelCase — this happens quite often. And again, this is for the non-PowerShell people in the room — if you’re out there.

Some cmdlet examples from these modules are Get-CFDistribution, Write-S3ObjectTagSet, Set-SQSQueueAttribute, and New-WAFRule. These commands work just as the AWS CLI does, in that they call an API at Amazon. As far as best practice goes, another thing both individuals and vendors often do, is include a prefix after the dash, but before the noun(s) in their command names. Each of the AWSPowerShell Cmdlets I included above makes use of a prefix. There was CF, S3, SQS, and WAF. Another one of the cmdlets in these modules is called Get-AWSPowerShellVersion (AWS prefix); I’ve brought it up here before. It spits out some version text, which is all it should do. However, if you use the ListServiceVersionInfo parameter provided by this cmdlet, you can return all the services and their matching noun prefixes, as well. You can return the API Versions too, which are dates. I didn’t include those below, however.

This is the closest we have to an official, AWS acronym list that I’ve yet to find. And yes, I’ve looked.

As can be seen, the CF acronym is used for CloudFront and CFN for CloudFormation. Use whatever you like, I suppose. With my teammates, I can’t think of a time where I didn’t know it was CloudFormation due to the context. I may have lost a few valuable seconds in life rereading a few sentences a few times, but I’ve so far survived. Still, I felt like it should be mentioned, so I can say I did my part to sleep better at night. Just kidding. It doesn’t keep me awake at night.

I’ll continue to use CFN. Perhaps they’ll think it’s me.

≥ Tommy Maynard (Twitter: @thetommymaynard)

About Tommy Maynard

IT Pro. Passionate for #PowerShell, #AWS (certified x2), & all things automation. I'm not done learning. Author in #PSConfBook. Writes at