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Jovana Romcevic Sukalo

4 minutes read

Our Amplify Studio experience: A compromise that didn’t work

Jovana Romčević Šukalo

Designer

In our recent venture, we sought to rapidly develop an internal digital product using AWS Amplify, drawn to its alignment with our minimalist design goals and simple tech requirements. With limited resources—only an experienced designer and a single developer—we aimed to create a quick MVP to showcase to potential clients.

However, our Amplify experience, meant to streamline the process, unexpectedly presented challenges that undermined the simplicity we initially sought. This article is our story of navigating the complexities of a compromise that fell short of our expectations.

Why did we choose Amplify?

1. Rapid MVP development

Our foremost goal was to create a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) in a short timeframe, and AWS Amplify’s rapid development capabilities perfectly aligned with this objective.

2. Limited human resources

With only one designer and a developer at our disposal, we needed a platform that could maximize efficiency, and Amplify’s low-code features were particularly appealing in this context.

3. Exploring new solutions

Our team is always eager to explore innovative solutions, and Amplify presented itself as an option that aligned with our commitment to productivity and development optimization.

4. Utilizing AWS as our usual tech stack

Given our familiarity with AWS as our usual tech stack, choosing Amplify ensured seamless integration and a smooth transition into our existing infrastructure.

Tech Stack Diagram, stage 1

A chronicle of compromises

✅ Configuring project and Figma-to-code

Following the documentation, we configured our Amplify project on both the Figma and AWS sides. The process proved remarkably easy and fast. While exploring recommendations on how to approach UI components, we established a theme and commenced modifications to the components. Despite their basic nature and limited design options, we were prepared for this kind of compromise.

Though we encountered some challenges during several attempts to convert Figma UI components to Amplify UI components, we ultimately succeeded in overcoming them.

❌ Amplify Studio and fast production

The utilization of Amplify Studio and the integration of UI components brought a notable design challenge to the forefront. Despite the accurate conversion of components from Figma to the Amplify UI library, the real-time implementation within the application unveiled numerous bugs. Given the compromises we had already accepted regarding the design scope, this issue became particularly problematic.

The unpredictability of the UI output in a live application became unacceptable. Regrettably, rectifying these issues proved to be a formidable task, as the generation process was controlled on the AWS side. We made the decision to code UI components from scratch using the MUI Kit.

Tech Stack Diagram, stage 2

After introducing MUI, we utilized Amplify solely for backend optimization.

❌ Business logic automatization

The promise of seamless business logic automation and straightforward backend configuration, with a simple setup of data models and intuitive frontend connectivity, was an appealing prospect for ensuring ease in both frontend and backend engineering. However, this simplicity predominantly held true for straightforward business cases with minimal nesting.

In our scenario, while the logic wasn’t overly complex, the need for some custom programming arose, prompting us to question the utility of the Amplify Studio. Even more crucial was our contemplation of project scalability in the future and the anticipated increase in complexity. This foresight led us to reevaluate Amplify’s suitability for our evolving needs.

Data modeling

⚠️ Knowledge base scope

The Amplify documentation is extensive and detailed, providing excellent resources for configuration, project setup, and demonstrations of various project types, such as blog websites and e-commerce.

However, challenges emerged when we ventured beyond the well-documented territory into customization and more complex business logic. As a relatively new product in the market, additional resources such as Stack Overflow proved to be less helpful in providing solutions to our specific queries and challenges. 

Final move

Opting out of Amplify Studio, we went ahead with a new tech stack for MVP while retaining AWS as our backend solution. 

Lessons learned

1. Always scrutinize documentation, especially in the alpha phase.

An essential takeaway is to carefully examine documentation, particularly during the alpha phase. In instances where the scope of documentation and available resources is notably lacking, it indicates the product’s early developmental stages.

While we acknowledge the ongoing improvement efforts by the AWS team, it’s imperative to consider the state of the platform at the time of usage, recognizing potential challenges arising from incomplete documentation.

2. Low-code platforms are tailored for simplicity.

The documentation and demo projects showcase the recommended scope and character of applications that are intended to be built with their solution. In Amplify Studio, the focus is on applications like blog websites and e-commerce. Despite offerings like theming and a UI library, they tend to be fundamentally basic.

The challenge arises when attempting complex logic and customization, as it often leads to overcoding and demands expertise in the field. This issue underscores the importance of having an experienced AWS expert on the development team, as their expertise becomes crucial for managing customization seamlessly.

3. Sooner is better for decision-making.

It’s crucial to recognize that if our current approach consistently introduces more problems and challenges, leading to a loss of time and enthusiasm, future development is likely to become increasingly daunting. In such instances, it’s essential to be honest with the team and pivot to a new direction sooner rather than later.

The ability to make timely decisions can significantly impact the trajectory of a project, ensuring adaptability and sustained momentum.

Jovana Romcevic Sukalo

Jovana Romčević Šukalo

Designer

With a rich background in diverse design fields, she identifies as an architect and designer, renowned for transforming traditional challenges into modern solutions. Beyond her professional role at ProductDock, she passionately advocates for Bauhaus philosophy through academic activism and engagement with international design communities


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