Flowman Job Execution#

Flowman provides some robust execution mechanics, which ensure correct build results. These mechanics revolve around execution phases and data dependencies.

Execution Phases#

Flowman sees data as artifacts with a common lifecycle, from creation until deletion. The lifecycle itself consists of multiple different phases, each of them representing one stage of the whole lifecycle.

The full lifecycle consists out of specific execution phases, as follows:

  1. VALIDATE. This first phase is used for validation and any error will stop the next steps. A validation step might for example check preconditions on data sources which are a hard requirement.

  2. CREATE. This will create all relations (tables and directories) specified as targets. The tables will not contain any data, they only provide an empty hull. If a target already exists, a migration will be started instead. This will migrate a relation (table or directory) to a new schema, if required. Note that this is not supported by all target types, and even if a target supports migration in general, it may not be possible due to nonmigratable changes.

  3. BUILD. The build phase will actually create all records and fill them into the specified relations.

  4. VERIFY. The verify phase will perform simple checks (for example if a specific Hive partition exists), or may also include some specific user defined tests that compare data. If verification fails, the build process stops.

  5. TRUNCATE. Truncate is the first of two phases responsible for cleanup. Truncate will only remove individual partitions from tables (i.e. it will delete data), but it will keep tables alive.

  6. DESTROY. The final phase destroy is used to physically remove relations including their data. This will also remove table definitions, views and directories. It performs the opposite operation than the CREATE phase.


When executing a specific job, Flowman first builds a dependency tree of all targets. Then the targets are executed in an order such that all dependencies of each target have to be built before the target in question itself is being built.

For building the dependency tree, Flowman examines the physical entities required or produced by each target. Therefore, in most cases, you do not need to manually specify dependencies yourself (although this is possible).

Automatic Dependencies#

Flowman tries to detect any dependencies between targets automatically, such that all targets are built in the correct order. You need nothing to do to take advantage of this feature.

Manual Dependencies#

In addition to automatic dependency management, you can also specify explicit dependencies between targets. This can be done by adding before and after tags to the targets.


    kind: relation
      - target_b
      - target_c

    after: target_x


Full Execution Model#

A job groups multiple targets to a logical bundle, which should be built together. When executing a lifecycle for a job, Flowman will apply the following logic:

  1. Interpolate any given parameter given on the command line, for example flowexec job daily verify processing_date:start=2022-11-01 processing_date:end=2022-11-10 would cycle through 10 consecutive days and execute the job daily with the parameter processing_date set accordingly.

  2. Iterate over all execution phases of the lifecycle (i.e. VALIDATE, CREATE, BUILD, VERIFY).

  3. Perform dependency analysis of all targets within the job, which are active for the current execution phase

  4. Identify all active targets in the current phase (possibly accordingly to the jobs executions section)

  5. Check each target if it is dirty (i.e. it requires an execution) the current phase

  6. Execute all active and dirty targets in the correct order

Note that Flowman also cascades dirtiness during the execution. This means that if target B depends on target A, and target A is dirty (because data is overwritten), then target B also becomes implicitly dirty via its dependency.