Handel is a CLI tool that will help you more easily deploy your application to AWS. You specify a declarative file in your application called handel.yml, and Handel will deploy your application to AWS for you.

Handel runs on top of CloudFormation. It automatically creates CloudFormation templates from your Handel file, and deploys your applications in a secure fashion. It takes care of as many of the painful little details of your deployment as it can, so that you can focus on just configuring the details you actually care about.

Why does Handel exist?

Handel runs on top of CloudFormation, so why not use CloudFormation directly?

CloudFormation is a great tool to provision and deploy applications in the AWS cloud, but it can be difficult and time-consuming to become proficient at using it. One of the biggest difficulties in using CloudFormation is that you must become proficient in wiring services together with IAM roles and EC2 security groups. This makes for a steep learning curve when you want to deploy an application in AWS.

Handel takes some of this responsibility for you in order to ease the work you have to do for your deployments. It takes over the process of creating the multiple resources in CloudFormation, and securely wiring these resources together.

In short, you get to retain the benefits of CloudFormation with less work!

What benefits does Handel provide over vanilla CloudFormation


Handel is not a rewrite of CloudFormation. Instead, Handel is an abstraction on top of CloudFormation. It uses CloudFormation under the hood to deploy your applications.

Handel provides the following benefits over using CloudFormation directly:

  • A much simpler interface to deploying an application. A 400-line CloudFormation template can be configured in more like 20-30 lines in a Handel file. See Handel vs. CloudFormation for an example of this.
  • Services are securely wired together for you with EC2 security groups.
  • Services are securely wired together with IAM roles.

What AWS services are supported?

See the Supported Services section for information on which services you can use with Handel.

How can I deploy an application with Handel?

First, see the Installation section to install Handel.

After you’ve installed Handel, see the Creating Your First Handel App page for a tutorial on creating a simple app and deploying it with Handel.