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How to configure Vite on AWS for Gitlab Review Apps

A guide on how to make Merge Requests more awesome!
Image credit: labs.openai.com

Engineering teams often struggle working in just a few shared cloud environments. Deployments accidentally overwrite each other make it a hassle to easily provide reviewable apps for product managers, designers or QA.

Here Gitlab Review Apps come to the rescue - an integrated way to deploy dynamic branch-specific environments for individual reviews. Natively they come with support for kubernetes, but this is just the default, which can be easily customized.

In this post we’ll show the customizations needed to make review apps work in a typical aws website hosting setup: Cloudfront + S3.

CodeSection titled Code

Regarding code customization, it’s mostly the routing that needs changing.

The React Router needs to have the vite BASE_URL added as an option:

<Router basename={import.meta.env.BASE_URL}>

This env var can then be changed at runtime via a cli parameter, which we’ll make use of in the next section.

vite build --base=/my/public/path

CI/CDSection titled CI/CD

In your pipeline you’ll need two new jobs deploy_review and stop_review:

  stage: deploy
    - npx vite build --base=/${$CI_COMMIT_REF_SLUG}/
    - aws s3 cp ./dist s3://${BUCKET_NAME}/${CI_ENVIRONMENT_SLUG}/ --recursive
    # cache busting
    - aws s3 cp dist/index.html s3://${BUCKET_NAME}/${CI_COMMIT_REF_SLUG}/ --cache-control "max-age=0,no-cache,no-store,must-revalidate"
    name: review/$CI_COMMIT_REF_SLUG
    url: https://app.example.com/$CI_ENVIRONMENT_SLUG
    on_stop: stop_review
    - merge_requests
    - master

    - aws s3 rm --recursive s3://${BUCKET_NAME}/${CI_COMMIT_REF_SLUG}/
  when: manual
    name: review/$CI_COMMIT_REF_SLUG
    action: stop
    - merge_requests

Cloudfront InfrastructureSection titled Cloudfront Infrastructure

Once these jobs are added the code is deployed into the subdirectory appropriately, but there is still a problem with the routing. The key issue being the default root object here. Cloudfront natively only supports it for the root directory, which will leave you with a “file not found” greeting for the review URL.

To support default indexes also in sub-directories, there is a work-around available using Cloudfront Functions. Instructions can be found in the AWS blog here. Once these are in place, the setup is complete.

Key components to have this work is the function code itself:

function handler(event) {
  var request = event.request;
  // the uri equals to the request path
  var uri = request.uri;

  if (uri.endsWith('/')) {
    request.uri += 'index.html';
  else if (!uri.includes('.')) {
    request.uri += '/index.html';

  return request;

And the IaC code the configures it as a VIEWER_REQUEST type function. Below you can find an example for the CDK.

import { Function, FunctionCode, FunctionEventType } from "aws-cdk-lib/aws-cloudfront";

const subDirFunction = new Function(stack, 'SubDirectoryIndex', {
  code: FunctionCode.fromFile({
    filePath: path.join(__dirname, "subdirIndex.js")

// this goes into your origin configuration:
functionAssociations: stage != "prod" ? [{
  function: subDirFunction,
  eventType: FunctionEventType.VIEWER_REQUEST,
}] : undefined

Now you should have a review app spun up for every MR, which gets automatically cleaned up on merge, which you can pass to your fellow reviewer.

Months laterSection titled Months later

We’ve been using the review apps productively for months now in multiple projects, and we can no longer do without them.

Having a branch-based deployment even for simple things like a frontend change works great and enhances the workflow. Context switches required for performing a review are decreased.

What we’re yet to add are review environments for backend changes. Should be straightforward with API Gateway stages and could be another cool addition.