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How to Use Great Expectations with Airflow

This guide will help you run a Great Expectations checkpoint in Apache Airflow, which allows you to trigger validation of a data asset using an Expectation Suite directly within an Airflow DAG.

Airflow is a data orchestration tool for creating and maintaining data pipelines through DAGs (directed acyclic graphs) written in Python. DAGs complete work through operators, which are templates that each encapsulate a specific type of work. This document explains how to use the GreatExpectationsOperator to perform data quality work in an Airflow DAG.

This guide focuses on using Great Expectations with Airflow in a self-hosted environment. See here for the guide on using Great Expectations with Airflow from within Astronomer.

Before you start writing your DAG, you will want to make sure you have a Data Context and Checkpoint configured.

A Data Context represents a Great Expectations project. It organizes storage and access for Expectation Suites, Datasources, notification settings, and data fixtures.

Checkpoints provide a convenient abstraction for bundling the validation of a Batch (or Batches) of data against an Expectation Suite (or several), as well as the actions that should be taken after the validation.

Install the GreatExpectationsOperator

To import the GreatExpectationsOperator in your Airflow project, run the following command to install the Great Expectations provider in your Airflow environment:

pip install airflow-provider-great-expectations==0.1.1

It’s recommended to specify a version when installing the package. To make use of the latest Great Expectations V3 API, you need to specify a version >= 0.1.0.

The Great Expectations V3 API requires Airflow 2.1+. If you're still running Airflow 1.x, you need to upgrade to at least 2.1 before using v0.1.0+ of the GreatExpectationsOperator.

Using the GreatExpectationsOperator

Before you can use the GreatExpectationsOperator, you need to import it in your DAG. You may also need to import the DataContextConfig, CheckpointConfig, or BatchRequest classes as well, depending on how you're using the operator. To import the Great Expectations provider and config and batch classes in a given DAG, add the following line to the top of the DAG file in your dags directory:

from great_expectations_provider.operators.great_expectations import GreatExpectationsOperator
from great_expectations.core.batch import BatchRequest
from great_expectations.data_context.types.base import (

To use the operator in the DAG, define an instance of the GreatExpectationsOperator class and assign it to a variable. In the following example, we define two different instances of the operator to complete two different steps in a data quality check workflow:

ge_data_context_root_dir_with_checkpoint_name_pass = GreatExpectationsOperator(

ge_data_context_config_with_checkpoint_config_pass = GreatExpectationsOperator(

Once you define your work through operators, you need to define the order in which your DAG completes the work. To do this, you can define a relationship. For example, adding the following line to your DAG ensures that your name pass task has to complete before your config pass task can start:

ge_data_context_root_dir_with_checkpoint_name_pass >> ge_data_context_config_with_checkpoint_config_pass

Operator Parameters

The operator has several optional parameters, but it always requires either a data_context_root_dir or a data_context_config and either a checkpoint_name or checkpoint_config.

The data_context_root_dir should point to the great_expectations project directory generated when you created the project with the CLI. If using an in-memory data_context_config, a DataContextConfig must be defined, as in this example.

A checkpoint_name references a checkpoint in the project CheckpointStore defined in the DataContext (which is often the great_expectations/checkpoints/ path), so that a checkpoint_name = "taxi.pass.chk" would reference the file great_expectations/checkpoints/taxi/pass/chk.yml. With a checkpoint_name, checkpoint_kwargs may be passed to the operator to specify additional, overwriting configurations. A checkpoint_config may be passed to the operator in place of a name, and can be defined like this example.

For a full list of parameters, see the GreatExpectationsOperator documentation.

Connections and Backends

The GreatExpectationsOperator can run a checkpoint on a dataset stored in any backend compatible with Great Expectations. All that’s needed to get the Operator to point at an external dataset is to set up an Airflow Connection to the datasource, and add the connection to your Great Expectations project, e.g. using the CLI to add a Postgres backend. Then, if using a DataContextConfig or CheckpointConfig, ensure that the "datasources" field refers to your backend connection name.