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Daniel Doubrovkine

aka dB., @awscloud, former CTO @artsy, +@vestris, NYC

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I haven’t written any C++ since 2009, or cross-platform C++ since the 90s. Working with the language in 2020 continues to require a lot of paper and glue (a.k.a. autoconf and make). The scissors, however, have become dramatically sharper as the community seems to have adopted CMake.

And so, having found a spare half hour, I decided to build a “hello world” C++ sample for AWS Data Exchange. It was more challenging than I would have liked.

Building the AWS SDK for C++

I began with Getting Started Using the AWS SDK for C++ which links to Setting Up the AWS SDK for C++. Since I’m using a Mac, I had to build the SDK from source.

> git clone git@github.com:aws/aws-sdk-cpp.git
> cd aws-sdk-cpp

I generally recommend using a released version of the SDK to ensure that you’ve checked out something stable.

aws-sdk-cpp> git checkout 1.7.278

The immediately confusing part of building the SDK was the idea that the build directory, i.e. the directory from which one runs make, is separate from the source. All my past projects required checking out the source, and typing make, or something similar. The sharp scissors, aka cmake generates a Makefile and is something you run from an empty build (sub)directory that you create.

aws-sdk-cpp> mkdir build
aws-sdk-cpp> cd build
aws-sdk-cpp/build> cmake .. -DCMAKE_BUILD_TYPE=Debug 
aws-sdk-cpp/build> make

You don’t have to create a build directory inside the source directory, but it is even more confusing if you have to keep the source and the build in separate hierarchies.

Installing the AWS SDK for C++

You must install the SDK with make install. I used the defaults, which is to copy the output to /usr/local on *nix systems, including MacOS.

This destination is configured with DCMAKE_INSTALL_PREFIX. For example, the following builds the Release flavor and installs the SDK into $HOME/bin/aws-sdk.

make install

If you made a mistake, and want to change the destination, you can also uninstall the SDK with make uninstall, but it will leave a bunch of folders and some files behind, which is now aws-sdk-cpp#1335.

It wasn’t immediately clear whether installing the SDK was required, rather than just building it, because the documentation always referenced sdk_build_dir. It is required and the docs really meant sdk_install_dir.

Using the AWS SDK for C++

I then tried to build a very simple “hello world” sample using the C++ SDK. This, of course, didn’t just work.

Minimal Code

A minimum example that uses the AWS SDK for C++ creates Aws::SDKOptions, calls Aws::InitAPI, does a bunch of work against one the many AWS services and calls Aws::ShutdownAPI to cleanup.

#include <iostream>
#include <aws/core/Aws.h>
#include <aws/s3/S3Client.h>
#include <aws/s3/model/Bucket.h>

int main(int argc, char** argv)
    Aws::SDKOptions options;

    // Do something with S3 ...
    // Aws::S3::S3Client s3_client;
    // etc.



A working CMakeLists.txt for version 1.7.278 of the SDK looks like this.

cmake_minimum_required(VERSION 3.2)

option(BUILD_SHARED_LIBS "Build shared libraries" ON)

add_executable(project-name main.cpp)

target_compile_features(project-name PUBLIC cxx_std_11)
target_link_libraries(project-name ${AWSSDK_LINK_LIBRARIES})

I had started from an example in this blog post from 2016 and from the docs, both of which were obsolete. I ran into a number of issues and have opened aws-sdk-cpp#1334 to get help. This is the complete list of changes I had to make.

  • The find_package arguments changed to AWSSDK (looks for AWSSDKConfig.cmake), REQUIRED (generates a fatal error if AWSSDK is not found), and COMPONENTS, followed by a list of components (e.g. s3 dataexchange).
  • The BUILD_SHARED_LIBS option changed to being on, because the SDK recently started defaulting to building shared vs. static libraries.
  • The target_compile_features(my-example PUBLIC cxx_std_11) was added to default to the C++ 11 standard required by the SDK code. This is potentially avoidable, see aws-sdk-cpp#1338.
  • When installed into a custom location, any reference to -Daws-sdk-cpp_DIR needed to become -DAWSSDK_DIR because of the new name for AWSSDKConfig.cmake.
  • The target_link_libraries arguments changed to include ${AWSSDK_LINK_LIBRARIES} to avoid having to list all dependencies manually.

The minimal CMakeLists.txt example has been corrected in aws-doc-sdk-examples#1022, and the documentation in aws-cpp-developer-guide#37.

Listing S3 Buckets in C++

Now that I was able to build C++ code against the AWS SDK for C++, I wrote a demo that lists S3 buckets.

#include <iostream>
#include <aws/core/Aws.h>
#include <aws/s3/S3Client.h>
#include <aws/s3/model/Bucket.h>

int main(int argc, char** argv)
    Aws::SDKOptions options;
        Aws::S3::S3Client s3_client;
        auto outcome = s3_client.ListBuckets();

        if (outcome.IsSuccess()) {
            std::cout << "Your Amazon S3 buckets:" << std::endl;

            Aws::Vector<Aws::S3::Model::Bucket> bucket_list =

            for (auto const &bucket: bucket_list) {
                std::cout << "  * " << bucket.GetName() << std::endl;
        } else {
            std::cout << "ListBuckets error: "
            << outcome.GetError().GetExceptionName() << " - "
            << outcome.GetError().GetMessage() << std::endl;

The complete project can be found in aws-samples/aws-sdk-cpp-list-s3-buckets.

Listing Entitled Data Sets in AWS Data Exchange in C++

Finally, I wrote a sample for AWS Data Exchange. In the following example we list all the data sets that our current account is entitled to.

Aws::DataExchange::DataExchangeClient client;

Aws::DataExchange::Model::ListDataSetsRequest list_data_sets_options;

auto outcome = client.ListDataSets(list_data_sets_options);

Aws::Vector<Aws::DataExchange::Model::DataSetEntry> data_sets_list = outcome.GetResult().GetDataSets();

for (auto const &data_set: data_sets_list) {
        << data_set.GetOriginDetails().GetProductId() << "/"
        << data_set.GetId() << ": "
        << data_set.GetName() << std::endl 
        << "  " << data_set.GetDescription() 
        << std::endl;

See aws-dataexchange-api-samples/subscribers/cpp/all-entitled-datasets, via aws-dataexchange-api-samples#33 for complete working code and a working CMakeFile.txt.