Flows and Flowlets

Flows are deprecated as of release 5.0, use spark streaming as replacement technology. Support for flows will be discontinued in 6.0 release

Flows are user-implemented real-time stream processors. They are comprised of one or more Flowlets that are wired together into a directed acyclic graph or DAG. Flowlets pass data between one another; each flowlet is able to perform custom logic and execute data operations for each individual data object it processes. All data operations happen in a consistent and durable way.

When processing a single input object, all operations, including the removal of the object from the input, and emission of data to the outputs, are executed in a transaction. This provides us with Atomicity, Consistency, Isolation, and Durability (ACID) properties, and helps assure a unique and core property of the flow system: it guarantees atomic and "exactly-once" processing of each input object by each flowlet in the DAG.

Flows are deployed to the CDAP instance and hosted within containers. Each flowlet instance runs in its own container. Each flowlet in the DAG can have multiple concurrent instances, each consuming a partition of the flowlet’s inputs.

To put data into your flow, you can either connect the input of the flow to a stream, or you can implement a flowlet to generate or pull the data from an external source.

The Flow interface allows you to specify the flow’s metadata, flowlets, flowlet connections, (either stream to flowlet, or flowlet to flowlet), and any Datasets used in the flow.

To create a flow, extend AbstractFlow and override the configure method:

public class MyExampleFlow extends AbstractFlow {

  public void configure() {
    setDescription("Flow for showing examples");
    addFlowlet("flowlet1", new MyExampleFlowlet());
    addFlowlet("flowlet2", new MyExampleFlowlet2());
    connectStream("myStream", "flowlet1");
    connect("flowlet1", "flowlet2");

In this example, the name, description, with (or without) flowlets, and connections are specified before building the flow.

Flow and Flowlet Examples

Flows and flowlets are included in just about every CDAP application, tutorial, guide or example.

  • The simplest example, Hello World, demonstrates using a flow with a single flowlet to ingest a name into a dataset.
  • For an example of annotated flowlets, see the Count Random example.
  • For examples of flows with multiple flowlets, see the Purchase, Count Random, and Word Count examples.
  • The Web Analytics example uses a single flowlet to perform analytics using access logs.
  • The Purchase example demonstrates setting the resources used by an individual instance of a flowlet.