Subflows allow you to build modular and reusable workflow components.

They work similarly to calling functions. A subflow execution is created when you call a flow from another flow.

How to declare a subflow

To call a flow from another flow, use the io.kestra.plugin.core.flow.Subflow task and in that task, specify the flowId and namespace of the subflow that you want to execute. Optionally, you can also specify custom input values, in the same way as you would pass arguments in a function call.

The optional properties wait and transmitFailed control the execution behavior. By default, if wait is not set or set to false, the parent flow continues execution without waiting for the subflow's completion. The transmitFailed property determines whether a failure in the subflow execution should cause the parent flow to fail.

Practical Example

Consider a subflow that encapsulates critical business logic. This subflow can be called from various flows, allowing for code reuse and isolated testing.

Here is a simple example of a subflow:

id: critical_service
namespace: example

  - id: return_data
    type: io.kestra.plugin.jdbc.duckdb.Query
    sql: |
      INSTALL httpfs;
      LOAD httpfs;
      SELECT sum(total) as total, avg(quantity) as avg_quantity
      FROM read_csv_auto('', header=True);
    store: true

  - id: some_output
    type: STRING
    value: "{{ outputs.return_data.uri }}"

In this example, return_data outputs uri of the query output. That URI is a reference to the Internal Storage location of the stored file. This output can be used in the parent flow to perform further processing.

id: parent_service
namespace: example

  - id: subflow_call
    type: io.kestra.plugin.core.flow.Subflow
    namespace: example
    flowId: critical_service
    wait: true
    transmitFailed: true

  - id: log_subflow_output
      type: io.kestra.plugin.core.runner.Process
      - cat "{{ outputs.subflow_call.outputs.some_output }}"

The outputs map task IDs to their outputs. In this case, we are accessing the outputs.some_output output of the subflow_call task.

Subflow properties

Below is a full list of all properties of the io.kestra.plugin.core.flow.Subflow task. Don't worry, you don't need to memorize them all, you can always open the task documentation to see the full list of Subflow task properties:

flowIdThe subflow's identifier.
namespaceThe namespace where the subflow is located.
inheritLabelsDetermines if the subflow inherits labels from the parent (default: false).
inputsInputs passed to the subflow.
labelsLabels assigned to the subflow.
outputs (deprecated)Allows passing outputs from the subflow execution to the parent flow.
revisionThe subflow revision to execute (defaults to the latest).
waitIf true, parent flow waits for subflow completion (default: false).
transmitFailedIf true, parent flow fails on subflow failure (requires wait to be true).

Passing data between parent and child flows

Flows can emit outputs that can be accessed by the parent flow. Using the io.kestra.plugin.core.flow.Subflow task you can call any flow as a subflow and access its outputs in downstream tasks. For more details and examples, check the Outputs page.

Outputs from a subflow execution

Outputs include the execution ID, extracted outputs, and the final state (if wait is true).

More information available here

Passing nested inputs to a subflow

Consider the following flow that extracts JSON data from a REST API and passes it to a subflow:

id: extract_json
namespace: example

  - id: api
    type: io.kestra.plugin.core.http.Request

  - id: read_json
    type: io.kestra.plugin.core.log.Log
    message: "{{ outputs.api.body }}"

  - id: subflow
    type: io.kestra.plugin.core.flow.Subflow
    namespace: example
    flowId: subflow
      users.firstName: "{{ outputs.api.body | jq('.users') | first | first | jq('.firstName') | first }}"
      users.lastName: "{{ outputs.api.body | jq('.users') | first | first | jq('.lastName') | first }}"
    wait: true
    transmitFailed: true

To provide type validation to extracted JSON fields, you can use nested inputs in the subflow definition:

id: subflow
namespace: example

  - id: users.firstName
    type: STRING
    defaults: Rick

  - id: users.lastName
    type: STRING
    defaults: Astley

  - id: process_user_data
    type: io.kestra.plugin.core.log.Log
    message: hello {{ inputs.users }}

Note how you can then pass the entire users object to any task in the subflow including all nested fields.

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