How to create custom Expectations

This document provides examples that walk through several methods for building and deploying custom expectations.

Beginning in version 0.13, we have introduced a new API focused on enabling Modular Expectations that are defined in individual classes.

Show Docs for V2 (Batch Kwargs) API

Most of the core Great Expectations expectations are built using expectation decorators, and using decorators on existing logic can make bringing custom integrations into your pipeline tests easy.


This doc has been partially migrated from old documentation. It’s potentially helpful, but may be incomplete, incorrect, or confusing.

Under the hood, great_expectations evaluates similar kinds of expectations using standard logic, including:

  • column_map_expectations, which apply their condition to each value in a column independently of other values

  • column_aggregate_expectations, which apply their condition to an aggregate value or values from the column

In general, if a column is empty, a column_map_expectation will return True (vacuously), whereas a column_aggregate_expectation will return False (since no aggregate value could be computed).

Adding an expectation about element counts to a set of expectations is usually therefore very important to ensure the overall set of expectations captures the full set of constraints you expect.

High-level decorators may modify the type of arguments passed to their decorated methods and do significant computation or bookkeeping to augment the work done in an expectation. That makes implementing many common types of operations using high-level decorators very easy.

To use the high-level decorators (e.g. column_map_expectation or `column_aggregate_expectation):

  1. Create a subclass from the dataset class of your choice

  2. Define custom functions containing your business logic

  3. Use the column_map_expectation and column_aggregate_expectation decorators to turn them into full Expectations. Note that each dataset class implements its own versions of @column_map_expectation and @column_aggregate_expectation, so you should consult the documentation of each class to ensure you are returning the correct information to the decorator.

Note: following Great Expectations naming conventions for Expectations is highly recommended, but not strictly required. If you want to confuse yourself with bad names, the package won’t stop you.

For example, in Pandas:

from great_expectations.dataset import PandasDataset, MetaPandasDataset

class CustomPandasDataset(PandasDataset):

    _data_asset_type = "CustomPandasDataset"

    def expect_column_values_to_equal_2(self, column):
        return x: x==2)

    def expect_column_mode_to_equal_0(self, column):
        mode = self[column].mode[0]
        return {
            "success" : mode == 0,
            "result": {
                "observed_value": mode,

For SqlAlchemyDataset and SparkDFDataset, the decorators work slightly differently. See the respective Meta-class docstrings for more information; the example below shows SqlAlchemy implementations of the same custom expectations.

import sqlalchemy as sa
from great_expectations.dataset import SqlAlchemyDataset, MetaSqlAlchemyDataset

class CustomSqlAlchemyDataset(SqlAlchemyDataset):

    _data_asset_type = "CustomSqlAlchemyDataset"

    def expect_column_values_to_equal_2(self, column):
        return (sa.column(column) == 2)

    def expect_column_mode_to_equal_0(self, column):
        mode_query =[

        mode = self.engine.execute(mode_query).scalar()
        return {
            "success": mode == 0,
            "result": {
                "observed_value": mode,

When the high-level decorators do not provide sufficient granularity for controlling your expectation’s behavior, you need to use the base expectation decorator, which will handle storing and retrieving your expectation in an expectation suite, and facilitate validation using your expectation. You will need to explicitly declare the parameters.

  1. Create a subclass from the dataset class of your choice

  2. Write the whole expectation yourself

  3. Decorate it with the @expectation decorator, declaring the parameters you will use.

This is more complicated, since you have to handle all the logic of additional parameters and output formats. Pay special attention to proper formatting of result_format.

from great_expectations.data_asset import DataAsset
from great_expectations.dataset import PandasDataset

class CustomPandasDataset(PandasDataset):

    _data_asset_type = "CustomPandasDataset"

    @DataAsset.expectation(["column", "mostly"])
    def expect_column_values_to_equal_1(self, column, mostly=None):
        not_null = self[column].notnull()

        result = self[column][not_null] == 1
        unexpected_values = list(self[column][not_null][result==False])

        if mostly:
            #Prevent division-by-zero errors
            if len(not_null) == 0:
                return {
                    "result": {

            percent_equaling_1 = float(sum(result))/len(not_null)
            return {
                "success" : percent_equaling_1 >= mostly,
                "result": {
                    "unexpected_list" : unexpected_values[:20],
                    "unexpected_index_list" : list(self.index[result==False])[:20],
            return {
                "success" : len(unexpected_values) == 0,
                "result": {
                    "unexpected_list" : unexpected_values[:20],
                    "unexpected_index_list" : list(self.index[result==False])[:20],

A similar implementation for SqlAlchemy would also import the base decorator:

import sqlalchemy as sa
from great_expectations.data_asset import DataAsset
from great_expectations.dataset import SqlAlchemyDataset

import numpy as np
import scipy.stats as stats
import scipy.special as special

if sys.version_info.major >= 3 and sys.version_info.minor >= 5:
    from math import gcd
    from fractions import gcd

class CustomSqlAlchemyDataset(SqlAlchemyDataset):

    _data_asset_type = "CustomSqlAlchemyDataset"

    @DataAsset.expectation(["column_A", "column_B", "p_value", "mode"])
    def expect_column_pair_histogram_ks_2samp_test_p_value_to_be_greater_than(
        """Execute the two sample KS test on two columns of data that are expected to be **histograms** with
        aligned values/points on the CDF. ."""
        LARGE_N = 10000  # 'auto' will attempt to be exact if n1,n2 <= LARGE_N

        # We will assume that these are already HISTOGRAMS created as a check_dataset
        # either of binned values or of (ordered) value counts
        rows =[

        cols = [col for col in zip(*rows)]
        cdf1 = np.array(cols[0])
        cdf2 = np.array(cols[1])
        n1 = cdf1.sum()
        n2 = cdf2.sum()
        cdf1 = cdf1 / n1
        cdf2 = cdf2 / n2

        # This code is taken verbatim from scipy implementation,
        # skipping the searchsorted (using sqlalchemy check asset as a view)
        cddiffs = cdf1 - cdf2
        minS = -np.min(cddiffs)
        maxS = np.max(cddiffs)
        alt2Dvalue = {'less': minS, 'greater': maxS, 'two-sided': max(minS, maxS)}
        d = alt2Dvalue[alternative]
        g = gcd(n1, n2)
        n1g = n1 // g
        n2g = n2 // g
        prob = -np.inf
        original_mode = mode
        if mode == 'auto':
            if max(n1, n2) <= LARGE_N:
                mode = 'exact'
                mode = 'asymp'
        elif mode == 'exact':
            # If lcm(n1, n2) is too big, switch from exact to asymp
            if n1g >= np.iinfo( / n2g:
                mode = 'asymp'
                    "Exact ks_2samp calculation not possible with samples sizes "
                    "%d and %d. Switching to 'asymp' " % (n1, n2), RuntimeWarning)

        saw_fp_error = False
        if mode == 'exact':
            lcm = (n1 // g) * n2
            h = int(np.round(d * lcm))
            d = h * 1.0 / lcm
            if h == 0:
                prob = 1.0
                    if alternative == 'two-sided':
                        if n1 == n2:
                            prob = stats._compute_prob_outside_square(n1, h)
                            prob = 1 - stats._compute_prob_inside_method(n1, n2, g, h)
                        if n1 == n2:
                            # prob = binom(2n, n-h) / binom(2n, n)
                            # Evaluating in that form incurs roundoff errors
                            # from special.binom. Instead calculate directly
                            prob = 1.0
                            for j in range(h):
                                prob = (n1 - j) * prob / (n1 + j + 1)
                            num_paths = stats._count_paths_outside_method(n1, n2, g, h)
                            bin = special.binom(n1 + n2, n1)
                            if not np.isfinite(bin) or not np.isfinite(num_paths) or num_paths > bin:
                                raise FloatingPointError()
                            prob = num_paths / bin

                except FloatingPointError:
                    # Switch mode
                    mode = 'asymp'
                    saw_fp_error = True
                    # Can't raise warning here, inside the try
                    if saw_fp_error:
                        if original_mode == 'exact':
                                "ks_2samp: Exact calculation overflowed. "
                                "Switching to mode=%s" % mode, RuntimeWarning)
                        if prob > 1 or prob < 0:
                            mode = 'asymp'
                            if original_mode == 'exact':
                                    "ks_2samp: Exact calculation incurred large"
                                    " rounding error. Switching to mode=%s" % mode,

        if mode == 'asymp':
            # The product n1*n2 is large.  Use Smirnov's asymptoptic formula.
            if alternative == 'two-sided':
                en = np.sqrt(n1 * n2 / (n1 + n2))
                # Switch to using kstwo.sf() when it becomes available.
                # prob = distributions.kstwo.sf(d, int(np.round(en)))
                prob = distributions.kstwobign.sf(en * d)
                m, n = max(n1, n2), min(n1, n2)
                z = np.sqrt(m*n/(m+n)) * d
                # Use Hodges' suggested approximation Eqn 5.3
                expt = -2 * z**2 - 2 * z * (m + 2*n)/np.sqrt(m*n*(m+n))/3.0
                prob = np.exp(expt)

        prob = (0 if prob < 0 else (1 if prob > 1 else prob))

        return {
            "success": prob > p_value,
            "result": {
                "observed_value": prob,
                "details": {
                    "ks_2samp_statistic": d

Let’s suppose you’ve defined CustomPandasDataset in a module called You can instantiate a dataset with your custom expectations simply by adding dataset_class=CustomPandasDataset in ge.read_csv.

Once you do this, all the functionality of your new expectations will be available for uses.

>> import great_expectations as ge
>> from custom_dataset import CustomPandasDataset

>> my_df = ge.read_csv("my_data_file.csv", dataset_class=CustomPandasDataset)

>> my_df.expect_column_values_to_equal_1("all_twos")
    "success": False,
    "unexpected_list": [2,2,2,2,2,2,2,2]

A similar approach works for the command-line tool.

>> great_expectations validation csv \
    my_data_file.csv \
    my_expectations.json \

To use custom expectations in a datasource or DataContext, you need to define the custom DataAsset in the datasource configuration or batch_kwargs for a specific batch. Following the same example above, let’s suppose you’ve defined CustomPandasDataset in a module called You can configure your datasource to return instances of your custom DataAsset type by declaring that as the data_asset_type for the datasource to build.

If you are working a DataContext, simply placing in your configured plugin directory will make it accessible, otherwise, you need to ensure the module is on the import path.

Once you do this, all the functionality of your new expectations will be available for use. For example, you could use the datasource snippet below to configure a PandasDatasource that will produce instances of your new CustomPandasDataset in a DataContext. Note the use of standard python dot notation to import.

    class_name: PandasDatasource
      module_name: custom_module.custom_dataset
      class_name: CustomPandasDataset
        class_name: SubdirReaderBatchKwargsGenerator
        base_directory: /data
          sep: \t

Note that we need to have added our to a directory called custom_module as in the directory structure below.

├── .gitignore
├── datasources
├── expectations
├── great_expectations.yml
├── notebooks
│   ├── pandas
│   ├── spark
│   └── sql
├── plugins
│   └── custom_module
│       └──
└── uncommitted
    ├── config_variables.yml
    ├── data_docs
    │   └── local_site
    ├── samples
    └── validations
>> import great_expectations as ge
>> context = ge.DataContext()
>> my_df = context.get_batch(

>> my_df.expect_column_values_to_equal_1("all_twos")
    "success": False,
    "unexpected_list": [2,2,2,2,2,2,2,2]

Show Docs for V3 (Batch Request) API

This guide will walk you through the process of creating your own Modular Expectations in 6 simple steps!

Prerequisites: This how-to guide assumes you have already:

Modular Expectations are new in version 0.13. They utilize a class structure that is significantly easier to build than ever before and are explained below!

  1. Plan Metric Dependencies

    In the new Modular Expectation design, Expectations rely on Metrics defined by separate MetricProvider Classes, which are then referenced within the Expectation and used for computation. For more on Metric Naming Conventions, see our guide on metric naming conventions.

    Once you’ve decided on an Expectation to implement, think of the different aggregations, mappings, or metadata you’ll need to validate your data within the Expectation - each of these will be a separate metric that must be implemented prior to validating your Expectation.

    Fortunately, many Metrics have already been implemented for pre-existing Expectations, so it is possible you will find that the Metric you’d like to implement already exists within the GE framework and can be readily deployed.

  2. Implement your Metric

    If your metric does not yet exist within the framework, you will need to implement it yourself within a new file - a task that is quick and simple within the new modular framework.

    Below lies the full implementation of an aggregate metric class, with implementations for Pandas, SQLAlchemy, and Apache Spark dialects. (Other implementations can be found in the dictionary of metrics).

from great_expectations.execution_engine import (
from great_expectations.expectations.metrics import (
   column_aggregate_value, column_aggregate_partial,
from great_expectations.expectations.metrics.import_manager import F, sa

class ColumnCustomMax(ColumnMetricProvider):
    """MetricProvider Class for Custom Aggregate Max MetricProvider"""

    metric_name = "column.aggregate.custom.max"

    def _pandas(cls, column, **kwargs):
        """Pandas Max Implementation"""
        return column.max()

    def _sqlalchemy(cls, column, **kwargs):
        """SqlAlchemy Max Implementation"""
        return sa.func.max(column)

    def _spark(cls, column, _table, _column_name, **kwargs):
        """Spark Max Implementation"""
        types = dict(_table.dtypes)
        return F.maxcolumn)
  1. Define Parameters

    We have already reached the point where we can start building our Expectation!

    The structure of a Modular Expectation now exists within its own specialized class - indicating it will usually exist in a separate file from the Metric. This structure has 3 fundamental components: Metric Dependencies, Configuration Validation, and Expectation Validation. In this step, we will address setting up our parameters.

    In this guide, we focus on a ColumnExpectation which can define metric dependencies simply using the metric_dependencies property.

    Add the following attributes to your Expectation class:

    • Metric Dependencies - A tuple consisting of the names of all metrics necessary to evaluate the Expectation. Using this shortcut tuple will provide the dependent metric with the same domain kwargs and value kwargs as the Expectation.

    • Success Keys - A tuple consisting of values that must / could be provided by the user and defines how the Expectation evaluates success.

    • Default Kwarg Values (Optional) - Default values for success keys and the defined domain, among other values.

    An example of Expectation Parameters is shown below (notice that we are now in a new Expectation class and building our Expectation in a separate file from our Metric):

class ExpectColumnMaxToBeBetweenCustom(ColumnExpectation):
   # Setting necessary computation metric dependencies and defining kwargs, as well as assigning kwargs default values
   metric_dependencies = ("column.aggregate.custom.max",)
   success_keys = ("min_value", "strict_min", "max_value", "strict_max")

   # Default values
   default_kwarg_values = {
       "row_condition": None,
       "condition_parser": None,
       "min_value": None,
       "max_value": None,
       "strict_min": None,
       "strict_max": None,
       "mostly": 1
  1. Validate Configuration

    We have almost reached the end of our journey in implementing an Expectation! Now, if we have requested certain parameters from the user, we would like to validate that the user has entered them correctly via a validate_configuration method.

    In this method, the user provides a configuration and we check that certain conditions are satisfied by the configuration. For example, if the user has given us a minimum and maximum threshold, it is important to verify that our minimum threshold does not exceed our maximum threshold:

def validate_configuration(self, configuration: Optional[ExpectationConfiguration]):
   Validates that a configuration has been set, and sets a configuration if it has yet to be set. Ensures that
   necessary configuration arguments have been provided for the validation of the expectation.

       configuration (OPTIONAL[ExpectationConfiguration]): \
           An optional Expectation Configuration entry that will be used to configure the expectation
       True if the configuration has been validated successfully. Otherwise, raises an exception
   min_val = None
   max_val = None

   # Setting up a configuration
   if configuration is None:
       configuration = self.configuration

   # Ensuring basic configuration parameters are properly set
       assert (
           "column" in configuration.kwargs
       ), "'column' parameter is required for column map expectations"
   except AssertionError as e:
       raise InvalidExpectationConfigurationError(str(e))

 # Validating that Minimum and Maximum values are of the proper format and type
 if "min_value" in configuration.kwargs:
     min_val = configuration.kwargs["min_value"]

 if "max_value" in configuration.kwargs:
     max_val = configuration.kwargs["max_value"]

     # Ensuring Proper interval has been provided
     assert (
         min_val is not None or max_val is not None
     ), "min_value and max_value cannot both be none"
     assert min_val is None or isinstance(
         min_val, (float, int)
     ), "Provided min threshold must be a number"
     assert max_val is None or isinstance(
         max_val, (float, int)
     ), "Provided max threshold must be a number"
  1. Validate

    In this step, we simply need to validate that the results of our metrics meet our Expectation.

    The validate method is implemented as _validate. This method takes a dictionary named Metrics, which contains all metrics requested by your metric dependencies, and performs a simple validation against your success keys (i.e. important thresholds) in order to return a dictionary indicating whether the Expectation has evaluated successfully or not:

def _validate(
   configuration: ExpectationConfiguration,
   metrics: Dict,
   runtime_configuration: dict = None,
   execution_engine: ExecutionEngine = None,
   """Validates the given data against the set minimum and maximum value thresholds for the column max"""
   column_max = metrics.get("column.aggregate.max")

   # Obtaining components needed for validation
   min_value = self.get_success_kwargs(configuration).get("min_value")
   strict_min = self.get_success_kwargs(configuration).get("strict_min")
   max_value = self.get_success_kwargs(configuration).get("max_value")
   strict_max = self.get_success_kwargs(configuration).get("strict_max")

   # Checking if mean lies between thresholds
   if min_value is not None:
       if strict_min:
           above_min = column_max > min_value
           above_min = column_max >= min_value
       above_min = True

   if max_value is not None:
       if strict_max:
           below_max = column_max < max_value
           below_max = column_max <= max_value
       below_max = True

   success = above_min and below_max

   return {"success": success, "result": {"observed_value": column_max}}
  1. Test

    When developing an Expectation, there are several different points at which you should test what you have written:

    1. During development, you should import and run your Expectation, writing additional tests for get_evaluation parameters if it is complicated

    2. It is often helpful to generate examples showing the functionality of your Expectation, which helps verify the Expectation works as intended.

    3. If you plan on contributing your Expectation back to the library of main Expectations, you should build a JSON test for it in the tests/test_definitions/name_of_your_expectation directory.

  2. Import: To use a custom Expectation, you need to ensure it has been imported into the running python interpreter. While including the module in your plugins/ directory will make it available to import, you must still import the Expectation:

  1. Optional: Implement Custom Data Docs Renderers

We have now implemented our own Custom Expectations! For more information about Expectations and Metrics, please reference the core concepts documentation.

  1. Arguments for Custom Expectations currently must be provided as keyword arguments; positional arguments should be avoided.