You know nothing about DynamoDB. At least that’s what I realized the first time I heard Rick Houlihan give his now infamous talk at AWS re:Invent 2018 on Amazon DynamoDB Deep Dive: Advanced Design Patterns for DynamoDB.

In that talk Rick revealed for the first time the inner arcana of single-table design. Minds were blown. Weaknesses were revealed. Futures were changed.

As a mere novice in the ways of DynamoDB I realized there were many levels of understanding needed before one could become a true AWS Data Hero. For that we need a guide.

Our guide on the Hero’s Journey that is mastering DynamoDB is a wise young wizard named Alex DeBrie. Alex wrote what you might consider to be the Gnostic Gospels of DynamoDB: The DynamoDB Book.


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You will know something after reading this book

But it’s more than just a book. You can’t buy it on Amazon. Instead, Alex uses Gumroad to offer packages at three different price points along with a team option. Each level provides additional content:

  • Basic package ($79). A 450 page book and six cheatsheets.
  • Plus package ($129). 60-page Analytics supplement guide. 60-page Operations supplement guide. Five deployable code implementations.
  • Premium package ($249). Video walkthroughs of every chapter.

Use the code “HIGHSCALABILITY” at checkout and you’ll shave off $20 for Basic, $30 for Plus, and $50 for Premium. You’re welcome.

When Alex asked for advice about what to include in the book, I made a big deal about including complete working code examples. Alex delivered. So I thought it was only fitting that I buy the Premium package.

But it’s so much money, you might complain. As someone who has made not much money writing a book I have some idea how much effort Alex put into creating these materials. It’s a lot of work. As a profession we must be willing to pay for our tools. So as a professional programmer wanting to create professional products—I’m very happy with the result. Here’s why.

What’s great about SQL is you can find an answer to damn near any question you have. Not so with DynamoDB. Working code examples are rare.

I remember Rick talking about using “between” when making queries. Never heard of such a thing and it took me forever to find a complete working code example of what he was talking about. Don’t even talk about the documentation. What you find are ridiculous command line examples like “aws dynamodb query…” What use is the command line for this sort of stuff?

Show the code! And Alex does.

I think you’ll find the 5 code examples—Big Time Deals, E-Commerce, Github Migration, Github Node, and Session Store Node—worth the price of admission. First, they tackle complex domains so they might already solve a problem you’re having. That’s gold. Second, you’ll learn a lot by just reading the code. As a not so great Javascript developer I know I learned a lot.

What about the Holy Grail of single-table design? If you have that sneaking suspicion you’re using DynamoDB incorrectly and you’ve tried to learn single-table design before, but got frustrated, Alex has your back. The book is filled with clear examples backed by strategies for various use cases.

Against my expectations the videos turned out to be very useful. Alex’s tone was great. It was just like he was next to me explaining what he was doing. And that’s exactly what you want from a teaching product.

Here’s my email interview with Alex DeBrie on The DynamoDB Book. Enjoy.

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