Adding idempotency using Amazon DynamoDB

Inspired by this entry in my programming notes.


  • One must add a sizable chunk of logic to implement this feature. It might be just me, but it would be neat to use a state machine for this use case.

  • Locking is a must-have in a system that needs idempotency. Sending multiple consecutive requests is unlikely, but you will be grateful to have implemented the locking mechanism when it happens.


  • I had a case where I wanted to wrap multiple errors into a single error. That seems to not be possible with thefmt.Errorf. You could use multiple %w tokens, but the errors.Is will not yield the correct (?) result if that is the case.

      var SomeCustomErr = errors.New("Some custom error")
      func main() {
      newErr := errors.New("foo")
      wrapped := fmt.Errorf("failed %w, %w", newErr, SomeCustomErr)
          if errors.Is(wrapped, SomeCustomErr) {
              // Never called
          if errors.Is(wrapped, newErr) {
              // Never called

    The solution is to use the error message from the first error and then use the %w token for the “SomeCustomError`.

  • Using generics in the context of DynamoDB is quite fascinating. In Go, you have to provide the correct attribute type, but since the attribute value might have a generic type, you cannot know (unless you use reflection) what kind of attribute you should specify.

    • This is where the MarshalMap function comes in handy. It will do all the work for you – it uses reflection under the hood to apply the correct underlying structure.
  • Watch out when you create update expressions via the dynamodbexpression package. The WithUpdate will overwrite any previous call to the WithUpdate.

      expr, err := dynamodbexpression.
            Set(dynamodbexpression.Name("result"), dynamodbexpression.Value(result)).
            Set(dynamodbexpression.Name("status"), dynamodbexpression.Value("COMPLETED")),
    • If I were to split the two Set calls into separate WithUpdate calls, only the last one would get applied.

    • I’ve spent a lot of time trying to figure out what is going on – I had two properties to update, but only one was getting updated!


  1. npm run bootstrap
  2. npm run deploy
  3. Send an POST HTTP request to the API. The name attribute in the request body is used as the idempotency key.
  4. Send multiple requests via the scratch.go file.


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