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Triggering Flows Based on External Events

You can configure flows deployed on Argo Workflows to start automatically when an event occurs in an external system. For instance, you could start a flow whenever new data is available in a data warehouse:

All you have to do is to add a decorator, @trigger, with a desired event name above the flow:

from metaflow import FlowSpec, step, trigger

class FreshDataFlow(FlowSpec):

def start(self):
# load data from the data warehouse
print('processing fresh data!')

def end(self):

if __name__ == '__main__':

You can develop and test the flow locally as usual: @trigger doesn't have any effect on local runs. To test triggering, deploy the flow to Argo Workflows:

python argo-workflows create

The output should state something along the lines of

What will trigger execution of the workflow:
This workflow triggers automatically when the upstream
data_updated event is/are published.

indicating that the deployment has been linked to the desired event.

Defining events

In the above example, we used data_updated as the name of the event that triggers the flow. You can choose the name freely. By using different names, you can make flows react to different events.

If you are familiar with streaming systems like Kafka or queues like AWS SQS, you can think of the event name as a topic in these systems.

Depending on multiple events

You can require that multiple events must be present before the flow gets triggered. Simply define a list of events:

@trigger(events=['data_updated', 'phase_of_the_moon'])

all the events need to occur within a configured time window for the flow to trigger.

Creating events

In order to trigger the flow deployed with @trigger, we need an event. Metaflow comes with a utility class, ArgoEvent, which makes it easy to create suitable events from any environment. You can call it as a part of your ETL pipeline running outside Metaflow, in a microservice, or in a notebook - wherever and whenever you want to trigger a Metaflow execution.

from metaflow.integrations import ArgoEvent


This line will create an event that will trigger all flows deployed on Argo Workflows that are waiting for the event data_updated.

Note that publish() only publishes an event and returns immediately. It does not guarantee that a run will start -- it's possible that no flow is waiting for the particular event. Correspondingly, if you call ArgoEvent many times, you can trigger arbitrarily many runs of connected flows.


Before calling ArgoEvent make sure that you have a valid Metaflow configuration and a connection to the Kubernetes cluster set up in the environment where you call .publish(). If you call it from systems outside Metaflow, make sure that these prerequisites are met.

Advanced case: Publishing events inside a flow

It is not common to publish events inside a Metaflow flow, since the @trigger_on_finish decorator takes care of flow-to-flow triggering conveniently. Should you have a more advanced use case that requires publishing events inside a flow, it is recommended that you use the ArgoEvent.safe_publish method:

from metaflow.integrations import ArgoEvent


The only difference to publish() is that events won't be created during local runs. This means that you can include safe_publish() in your code safely and develop and test it locally as usual, knowing that you won't be causing unintended side-effects in surrounding systems that may depend on the event.

Passing parameters in events

Besides simply starting runs through events, you can change their behavior on the fly by letting the event define Parameters of the flow.

Consider this typical machine learning system that implements a continuously refreshing model:

  1. An event is created whenever new data is available in the data warehouse.
  2. The event contains information about the latest data available in the warehouse.
  3. Using the information, a model is refreshed with a training set containing the last N days of data.

The corresponding flow could look like this, ignoring details of data loading and the actual training:

from metaflow import FlowSpec, step, trigger, Parameter
from datetime import datetime, timedelta

class ModelRefreshFlow(FlowSpec):
latest = Parameter("latest", default="2023-05-01")
window = Parameter("window", default=3)

def load_data(self):
# replace this with an actual data loader
SQL = f"select * from data where time > to_date('{self.start_date}')"
print("loading data since %s" % self.start_date)
return [1, 2, 3]

def train_model(self, df):
# replace this with actual model training
return df

def start(self):
self.latest_date = datetime.fromisoformat(self.latest)
self.start_date = self.latest_date - timedelta(days=self.window)

def train(self):
df = self.load_data()
self.model = self.train_model(df)

def end(self):

if __name__ == "__main__":

To pass in parameters, we can simply define them in the payload of ArgoEvent:

from metaflow.integrations import ArgoEvent
from datetime import datetime


Mapping parameter names

Above, the payload field matches the parameter name latest exactly. In certain situations you may want to define manually how parameters get their values. For instance, a common event may be used to trigger various kinds of flows and it may be hard to coordinate parameter names across all consumers of the event.

In this situation, you can remap payload fields to parameter names through the parameters argument:

@trigger(event={'name':'some_event', 'parameters': {'window': 'how_many_days'}})

Here, we define that Parameter('window') gets its value from the event payload field how_many_days. Note that you need to remap all parameters that you want to assign through the event. Default assignments are disabled when parameters is specified, which allows you to stay in full control of parameter mappings.

Parameter mapping comes in handy when multiple events are present:

@trigger(events=[{'name':'one_event', 'parameters': {'window': 'how_many_days'}},
{'name':'another_event', 'parameters': {'latest': 'timestamp'}}])

In this case, window gets its value through the event one_event and latest through another_event.