AWS Elastic Beanstalk
Developer Guide
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Deploying a Flask Application to AWS Elastic Beanstalk

Flask is an open source web application framework for Python. This tutorial walks you through the process of generating a Flask application and deploying it to an AWS Elastic Beanstalk environment.


This tutorial assumes that you have some knowledge of basic Elastic Beanstalk operations and the Elastic Beanstalk console. If you haven't already, follow the instructions in Getting Started Using Elastic Beanstalk to launch your first Elastic Beanstalk environment.

To follow the procedures in this guide, you will need a command line terminal or shell to run commands. Commands are shown in listings preceded by a prompt symbol ($) and the name of the current directory, when appropriate:

~/eb-project$ this is a command this is output

On Linux and macOS, use your preferred shell and package manager. On Windows 10, you can install the Windows Subsystem for Linux to get a Windows-integrated version of Ubuntu and Bash.

Flask requires Python 2.7 or 3.4 or newer. In this tutorial we use Python 3.6 and the corresponding Elastic Beanstalk platform configuration. Install Python by following the instructions at Setting Up Your Python Development Environment.

The Flask framework will be installed as part of the tutorial.

Set Up a Python Virtual Environment with Flask

Create a project directory and virtual environment for your application, and install Flask.

To set up your project environment

  1. Create a project directory.

    ~$ mkdir eb-flask ~$ cd eb-flask
  2. Create and activate a virtual environment named virt:

    ~/eb-flask$ virtualenv virt ~$ source virt/bin/activate (virt) ~/eb-flask$

    You will see (virt) prepended to your command prompt, indicating that you're in a virtual environment. Use the virtual environment for the rest of this tutorial.

  3. Install flask with pip install:

    (virt)~/eb-flask$ pip install flask==1.0.2
  4. View the installed libraries with pip freeze:

    (virt)~/eb-flask$ pip freeze click==6.7 Flask==1.0.2 itsdangerous==0.24 Jinja2==2.10 MarkupSafe==1.0 Werkzeug==0.14.1

    This command lists all of the packages installed in your virtual environment. Because you are in a virtual environment, globally installed packages like the EB CLI are not shown.

  5. Save the output from pip freeze to a file named requirements.txt.

    (virt)~/eb-flask$ pip freeze > requirements.txt

    This file tells Elastic Beanstalk to install the libraries during deployment. For more information, see Requirements File.

Create a Flask Application

Next, create an application that you'll deploy using Elastic Beanstalk. We'll create a "Hello World" RESTful web service.

Create a new text file in this directory named with the following contents:

Example ~/eb-flask/

from flask import Flask # print a nice greeting. def say_hello(username = "World"): return '<p>Hello %s!</p>\n' % username # some bits of text for the page. header_text = ''' <html>\n<head> <title>EB Flask Test</title> </head>\n<body>''' instructions = ''' <p><em>Hint</em>: This is a RESTful web service! Append a username to the URL (for example: <code>/Thelonious</code>) to say hello to someone specific.</p>\n''' home_link = '<p><a href="/">Back</a></p>\n' footer_text = '</body>\n</html>' # EB looks for an 'application' callable by default. application = Flask(__name__) # add a rule for the index page. application.add_url_rule('/', 'index', (lambda: header_text + say_hello() + instructions + footer_text)) # add a rule when the page is accessed with a name appended to the site # URL. application.add_url_rule('/<username>', 'hello', (lambda username: header_text + say_hello(username) + home_link + footer_text)) # run the app. if __name__ == "__main__": # Setting debug to True enables debug output. This line should be # removed before deploying a production app. application.debug = True

This example prints a customized greeting that varies based on the path used to access the service.


By adding application.debug = True before running the application, debug output is enabled in case something goes wrong. It's a good practice for development, but you should remove debug statements in production code, since debug output can reveal internal aspects of your application.

Using as the filename and providing a callable application object (the Flask object, in this case) allows Elastic Beanstalk to easily find your application's code.

Run with Python:

(virt) ~/eb-flask$ python * Serving Flask app "application" (lazy loading) * Environment: production WARNING: Do not use the development server in a production environment. Use a production WSGI server instead. * Debug mode: on * Running on (Press CTRL+C to quit) * Restarting with stat * Debugger is active! * Debugger PIN: 313-155-123

Open in your web browser. You should see the application running, showing the index page:

Check the server log to see the output from your request. You can stop the web server and return to your virtual environment by typing Ctrl-C.

If you got debug output instead, fix the errors and make sure the application is running locally before configuring it for Elastic Beanstalk.

Deploy Your Site With the EB CLI

You've added everything you need to deploy your application on Elastic Beanstalk. Your project directory should now look like this:

~/eb-flask/ |-- virt |-- `-- requirements.txt

The virt folder, however, is not required for the application to run on Elastic Beanstalk. When you deploy, Elastic Beanstalk creates a new virtual environment on the server instances and installs the libraries listed in requirements.txt. To minimize the size of the source bundle that you upload during deployment, add an .ebignore file that tells the EB CLI to leave out the virt folder.

Example ~/eb-flask/.ebignore


Next, you'll create your application environment and deploy your configured application with Elastic Beanstalk.

To create an environment and deploy your Flask application

  1. Initialize your EB CLI repository with the eb init command:

    ~/eb-flask$ eb init -p python-3.6 flask-tutorial --region us-west-2 Application flask-tutorial has been created.

    This command creates a new application named flask-tutorial and configures your local repository to create environments with the latest Python 3.6 platform configuration.

  2. (optional) Run eb init again to configure a default keypair so that you can connect to the EC2 instance running your application with SSH:

    ~/eb-flask$ eb init Do you want to set up SSH for your instances? (y/n): y Select a keypair. 1) my-keypair 2) [ Create new KeyPair ]

    Select a key pair if you have one already, or follow the prompts to create a new one. If you don't see the prompt or need to change your settings later, run eb init -i.

  3. Create an environment and deploy your application to it with eb create:

    ~/eb-flask$ eb create flask-env

Environment creation takes about 5 minutes and creates the following resources:

  • EC2 instance – An Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) virtual machine configured to run web apps on the platform that you choose.

    Each platform runs a specific set of software, configuration files, and scripts to support a specific language version, framework, web container, or combination thereof. Most platforms use either Apache or nginx as a reverse proxy that sits in front of your web app, forwards requests to it, serves static assets, and generates access and error logs.

  • Instance security group – An Amazon EC2 security group configured to allow ingress on port 80. This resource lets HTTP traffic from the load balancer reach the EC2 instance running your web app. By default, traffic isn't allowed on other ports.

  • Load balancer – An Elastic Load Balancing load balancer configured to distribute requests to the instances running your application. A load balancer also eliminates the need to expose your instances directly to the internet.

  • Load balancer security group – An Amazon EC2 security group configured to allow ingress on port 80. This resource lets HTTP traffic from the internet reach the load balancer. By default, traffic isn't allowed on other ports.

  • Auto Scaling group – An Auto Scaling group configured to replace an instance if it is terminated or becomes unavailable.

  • Amazon S3 bucket – A storage location for your source code, logs, and other artifacts that are created when you use Elastic Beanstalk.

  • Amazon CloudWatch alarms – Two CloudWatch alarms that monitor the load on the instances in your environment and are triggered if the load is too high or too low. When an alarm is triggered, your Auto Scaling group scales up or down in response.

  • AWS CloudFormation stack – Elastic Beanstalk uses AWS CloudFormation to launch the resources in your environment and propagate configuration changes. The resources are defined in a template that you can view in the AWS CloudFormation console.

  • Domain name – A domain name that routes to your web app in the form

All of these resources are managed by Elastic Beanstalk. When you terminate your environment, Elastic Beanstalk terminates all the resources that it contains.


The Amazon S3 bucket that Elastic Beanstalk creates is shared between environments and is not deleted during environment termination. For more information, see Using Elastic Beanstalk with Amazon S3.

When the environment creation process completes, open your web site with eb open:

~/eb-flask$ eb open

This will open a browser window using the domain name created for your application. You should see the same Flask website that you created and tested locally.

If you don't see your application running, or get an error message, see Troubleshooting Deployments for help with how to determine the cause of the error.

If you do see your application running, then congratulations, you've deployed your first Flask application with Elastic Beanstalk!


When you finish working with Elastic Beanstalk, you can terminate your environment. Elastic Beanstalk terminates all AWS resources associated with your environment, such as Amazon EC2 instances, database instances, load balancers, security groups, and alarms.

To terminate your Elastic Beanstalk environment

  1. Open the Elastic Beanstalk console.

  2. Navigate to the management page for your environment.

  3. Choose Actions, and then choose Terminate Environment.

  4. In the Confirm Termination dialog box, type the environment name, and then choose Terminate.

With Elastic Beanstalk, you can easily create a new environment for your application at any time.

Or, with the EB CLI:

~/eb-flask$ eb terminate flask-env

Next Steps

For more information about Flask, visit

If you'd like to try out another Python web framework, check out Deploying a Django Application to Elastic Beanstalk.