Deploying Great Expectations with Airflow

This guide will help you deploy Great Expectations within an Airflow pipeline. You can use Great Expectations to automate validation of data integrity and navigate your DAG based on the output of validations.

Prerequisites: This workflow pattern assumes you have already:

There are three supported methods for running validation in an Airflow DAG:

  1. Recommended: Using the GreatExpectationsOperator in the Great Expectations Airflow Provider package

  2. Using an Airflow PythonOperator to run validations using Python code

  3. Invoking the Great Expectations CLI to run a Checkpoint using an Airflow BashOperator

Check out this link for an example of Airflow pipelines with Great Expectations validations ensuring that downstream tasks are protected from upstream issues:

In the first link and the diagram below, you can see a common pattern of using validation tasks to ensure that the data flowing from one task to the next is correct, and alert the team if it is not. Another common pattern is to branch and change your DAG based on a validation (e.g. send data for more cleaning before moving to the next task, store it for a postmortem, etc.).

Airflow pipeline from Great Expectations tutorials repository.

We will now explain the supported methods for using Great Expectations within an Airflow pipeline.

Running validation using the GreatExpectationsOperator

The GreatExpectationsOperator in the Great Expectations Airflow Provider package is a convenient way to invoke validation with Great Expectations in an Airflow DAG. See the example DAG in the examples folder for several methods to use the operator.

  1. Ensure that the great_expectations directory that defines your Data Context is accessible by your DAG. Typically, it will be located in the same project as your DAG, but you can point the operator at any location.

  2. Install Great Expectations and the Great Expectations provider in your environment

pip install great_expectations airflow-provider-great-expectations
  1. Import the operator in your DAG file

from great_expectations_provider.operators.great_expectations import GreatExpectationsOperator
  1. Create a task using the GreatExpectationsOperator

The GreatExpectationsOperator supports multiple ways of invoking validation with Great Expectations: a) using an expectation suite name and batch_kwargs, b) using a list of expectation suite names and batch_kwargs (using the assets_to_validate parameter), c) using a checkpoint. This means that the parameters depend on how you would like to invoke Great Expectations validation. As a simple example, assuming you have a single Expectation Suite “my_suite” and a simple batch of data, such as a database table called “my_table”, you can use the following parameters:

my_ge_task = GreatExpectationsOperator(
        'table': 'my_table',
        'datasource': 'my_datasource'

Note: If your great_expectations directory is not located in the same place as your DAG file, you will need to provide the data_context_root_dir parameter.

By default, a GreatExpectationsOperator task will run validation and raise an AirflowException if any of the tests fails. To override this behavior and continue running even if tests fail, set the fail_task_on_validation_failure flag to False.

For more information about possible parameters and examples, see the README in the repository, and the example DAG in the provider package

Running validation using a PythonOperator

If the current version of the GreatExpectationsOperator does not support your use case, you can also fall back to running validation using a standard PythonOperator as described in this section.

  1. Create validation Methods

    Create the methods to validate data that will be called in your DAG. In this example our data is contained in a file.

from airflow import AirflowException
from airflow.operators.python_operator import PythonOperator
import great_expectations as ge


def validate_data(ds, **kwargs):

    # Retrieve your data context
    context = ge.data_context.DataContext(<insert path to your great_expectations.yml>)

    # Create your batch_kwargs
    batch_kwargs_file = {
        "path": <insert path to your data file>,
        "datasource": "my_pandas_datasource"}

    # Create your batch (batch_kwargs + expectation suite)
    batch_file = context.get_batch(batch_kwargs_file, <insert name of your expectation suite>)

    # Run the validation
    results = context.run_validation_operator(
        # This run_id can be whatever you choose
        run_id=f"airflow: {kwargs['dag_run'].run_id}:{kwargs['dag_run'].start_date}")

    # Handle result of validation
    if not results["success"]:
        raise AirflowException("Validation of the data is not successful ")
  1. Add validation Methods to DAG

    Validation steps can be added after data retrieval, transformation or loading steps to ensure that the steps were completed successfully.

# Create validation task
task_validate_data = PythonOperator(

# Add to DAG

Running a validation using a Checkpoint & BashOperator

Please see this how-to guide for How to run a Checkpoint in Airflow.

Additional resources