AWS Command Line Interface

The AWS Command Line Interface (AWS CLI) is an Amazon Web Services tool that enables developers to control Amazon public cloud services by typing commands on a specified line.

AWS' version of a command-line interface is one of several methods a developer can use to create and manage AWS tools. Other methods include the AWS Management Console and AWS application programming interfaces. A developer may decide to use the AWS CLI over other methods because it offers more granular control of services and enables script automation.

An IT team downloads and installs the AWS Command Line Interface and then configures settings, such as security credentials and the default geographic region for services. A developer can then type a command to specify a profile, region or output format that's different than default configurations.

A developer enters a multipart structure for each command. The base consists of "aws" to call the cloud provider and then includes a top-level command -- usually an AWS utility -- a sub-command to specify the operation and other options and parameters placed within brackets. A parameter can include a string, timestamp, boolean, integer, blob, map or a JSON command for a more complex request. Here is the format for a basic AWS CLI command:

aws <command> <subcommand> [options and/or parameters]

The AWS CLI accepts three output formats: JSON, tab-delimited text and ASCII-formatted table. A developer can filter output with a query option and can modify pagination behavior when a command retrieves a long list of objects. A developer working in the AWS CLI can include the command help at the end of a string to receive information and options for a particular resource command. AWS commits source code for the AWS CLI to GitHub.

AWS also offers AWS Tools for Windows PowerShell for developers who script with Microsoft Windows PowerShell.

This was last updated in October 2016

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