Creating serverless PHP websites

Before reading this article we assume that you have read Bref's introduction and that you are familiar with Bref's HTTP runtime.


Websites usually contain 2 parts:

CloudFront (the AWS CDN) serves as an HTTP/HTTPS proxy.

This lets us host everything under the same domain and support both HTTP and HTTPS.

The easiest approach is to use the Server-side website construct of the Lift plugin. If you don't want to use it, see the alternative solutions.

First install the plugin

serverless plugin install -n serverless-lift

Then add this configuration to your serverless.yml file.

service: my-app


  - ./vendor/bref/bref
  - serverless-lift


    type: server-side-website
      '/js/*': assets/js
      '/css/*': assets/css
      '/favicon.ico': assets/favicon.ico
      '/robots.txt': assets/robots.txt
      # add here any file or directory that needs to be served from S3

Now deploy your website using serverless deploy. Lift will create all required resources and take care of uploading your assets to S3 automatically.

You can access your website using the URL that Lift outputs at the end the deployment.

The first deployment takes a lot of time (5 to 10 minutes) because CloudFront is a distributed service. The next deployments that do not modify CloudFront's configuration will not suffer from this delay.

Setting up a domain name

Just like in the "Custom domains" guide, you need to register your domain in ACM (AWS Certificate Manager) to get an HTTPS certificate.

If you have already set up this domain as a custom domain in API Gateway (by following the Custom domain guide), you will need to remove it before continuing.

  • open this link or manually go in the ACM Console and click "Request a new certificate" in the us-east-1 region (CloudFront requires certificates from us-east-1)
  • add your domain name and click "Next"
  • choose the domain validation of your choice
    • domain validation will require you to create DNS entries (this is recommended because it renews the certificate automatically)
    • email validation will require you to click a link you will receive in an email sent to

Copy the ARN of the ACM certificate. It should look like this:


Now add your domain name and certificate in your serverless.yml file

    # ...
    certificate: <your certificate ARN>

The last step will be to point your domain name DNS records to the CloudFront URL:

  • copy the domain outputted by Lift during serverless deploy (or run serverless info to retrieve it)
  • create a CNAME to point your domain name to this URL

Lift supports more advanced use cases like multiple domains, root domain to www redirects, and more. Check out the official documentation.

Alternative solutions

If you don't want to use Lift or Cloudfront, you may want to read the older version of this documentation which featured configuration using S3 only on a separate domain and Cloudfront configured through plain CloudFormation.