Data Factory Design

Our Data Factory system is called AirCan. A Data Factory is a set of services/components to process and integrate data (coming from different sources). Plus patterns / methods for integrating with CKAN and the DataHub.


DataStore Load job story

Reporting Integration

When I upload a file to CKAN and it is getting loaded to the datastore (automatically), I want to know if that succeeded or failed so that I can share with my users that the new data is available (or do something about the error).

For a remote Airflow instance (let's say on Google Composer), describe the DAG tasks and the process. i.e.

  • File upload on CKAN triggers the ckanext-aircan connector
  • which makes API request to airflow on GCP and triggers a DAG with following parameters
    • A f11s resource orject including
      • the remote location of the CSV file and the reource ID
      • The target resource id
    • An API key to use when loading to CKAN datastore
    • [A callback url]
  • The DAG
    • deletes the datatore table
    • if it exists, creates a new datastore table
    • loads CSV from the specified location (inforation available on DAG parameters)
    • converts the CSV to JSON. The output of the converted JSON file will be in a bucket on GCP.
    • upserts the JSON data row by row into the CKAN DataStore via CKAN's DataStore API
      • This is what we have now: invoke{"message":"Created <DagRun ckan_api_load_gcp @ 2020-07-14 13:04:43+00:00: manual__2020-07-14T13:04:43+00:00, externally triggered: True>"} /api/3/action/datastore_create and passing the contents of the json file
        • OR using upsert with inserts (faster) NB: datapusher just pushes the whole thing into datastore_create so stick with that.
      • OR: if we are doing postgres copy we need direct access to postgres DB
    • … [tbd] notifies CKAN instance of this (?)

Error Handling and other topics to consider

  • How can we let CKAN know something went wrong? Shall we create a way to notify a certain endpoint on ckannext-aircan connector?
  • Shall we also implement a timeout on CKAN?
  • What are we going to display in case of an error?
  • The "tmp" bucket on GCP will eventually get full of files; shall we flush it? How do we know when it's safe to delete a file?
    • Lots of ways up this mountain.
  • What do we do for large files?

AirCan API

AirCan is built on AirFlow so we have same basic API TODO: insert link

However, we have standard message formats to pass to DAGs following these principles: All dataset and data resource objects should following the Frictionless specs

Pseudo-code showing how we call the API:

  "conf": {
    "resource": json.dumps({  # f11s resource object
        resource_id: ...
        path: ...
        schema: ...
    "ckan_api_key: ...

See for latest, up to date version:

CKAN integration API

There is a new API as follows:


Also DAGs can get triggered on events … TODO: go look at Github actions and learn from it …


Other principles of architecture:

  • AirFlow tasks and DAGs should do very little themselves and should hand off to separate libraries. Why? To have better separation of concerns and testability. AirCan is reasonably cumbersome to test but an SDK is much more testable.
    • Thus AirFlow tasks are often just going to pass through arguments TODO: expand this with an example …
  • AirFlow DAG will have incoming data and config set in "global" config for the DAG and so available to every task …
  • Tasks should be as decoupled as possible. Obviously there is some data and metadata passing between tasks and that should be done by writing those to a storage bucket. Metadata MUST be stored in f11s format.

Each task can write to this location:

bucket/dagid/runid/taskid/... # data files


URL structure on a daaset

# xxx is a dataset

Main question: to display to user we need some way to log what jobs are associated with what datasets (and users) and perhaps their status

  • we want to keep factory relatively dumb (it does not know about datasets etc etc)
  • in terms of capabilities we need a way to pass permissions into the data factory (you hand over the keys to your car)

Simplest approach:

  • MetaStore (CKAN metadata db) has Jobs table which have structure of | id | factory_id | job_type | created | updated | dataset | resource | user | status | info | (where info is json blob)
    • status = one of WAITING | RUNNING | DONE | FAILED | CANCELLED. If failed we should have stuff in info about that.
    • job_type = one of HARVEST | LOAD | VALIDATE ... it is there so we could have several different factory jobs in one db
    • info: likely stuff
      • run time
      • error information (on failure)
      • success information: what was outcome, where are outputs if any etc
  • On creating a job in the factory, the factory returns a factory id. the metastore stores the factory id into a new job object along with dataset and user info …
    • Qu: why have id and factory_id separate? is there any situation where you have a job w/o a factory id?
  • Then on loading a job page in frontend you can poll the factory for info and status (if status is WAITING or RUNNING)
    • => do we need the info column on the job (it's just a cache of this info)?
      • Ans: useful for jobs which are complete so we don't keep polling the factory (esp if factory deletes stuff)
  • Can list all jobs for a given dataset (or resource) with info about them


  • For Data Factory what do I do with Runs that are stale etc - how do I know who they are associated with. Can I store metadata on my Runs like who requested it etc.

UI Design

Example from Github:


Notes re AirCan API

{"message":"Created <DagRun ckan_api_load_gcp @ 2020-07-14 13:04:43+00:00: manual__2020-07-14T13:04:43+00:00, externally triggered: True>"}

GET /api/experimental/dags/<string:dag_id>/dag_runs/<string:execution_date>

GET /api/experimental/dags/ckan_api_load_gcp/dag_runs/2020-07-14 13:04:43+00:00

Resp: `{"state":"failed"}`

Google Cloud Composer

Google Cloud Composer is a hosted version of AirFlow on Google Cloud.

How Google Cloud Composer differs from local AirFlow

  • File handling: On GCP, all the file handling must become interaction with a bucket ~rufus: what about from a url online (but not a bucket) Specifying the csv resource location (on a local Airflow) must become sending a resource to a bucket (or just parsing it from the JSON body). When converting it to a JSON file, it must become an action of creating a file on a bucket.
  • Authentication: TODO

AirFlow Best Practices

What terminology should we use?

ANS: we use AirFlow terminology:

  • Task
  • DAG
  • DagRun

For internals what are the options?

  • Task or Processor or …
  • DAG or Flow or Pipeline?

TODO: table summarizing options in AirFlow, Luigi, Apache Beam etc.

UI Terminology

  • Actions
  • Workflows

Terminology options

  • Gitlab
    • Pipelines: you have
    • Jobs (runs of those
    • Schedules
  • Github
    • Workflows
    • Runs
    • (Schedules - not explicit)
  • Airflow
    • DAGs
      • Tasks
    • DAG Runs