How to use SQLAlchemy in Apache Airflow DAG

With Apache Airflow you can design your ETL as elegant Python code you would love to maintain and debug.

Usually we use Apache Airflow for bulk DB updates. So this is highly optimized SQL queries and so on.

But from time to time you would like to use SQLAlchemy models inside your DAG for some not so massive but complex operations with DB.

And Apache Airflow even based on SQLAlchemy!

For example this is how to get Apache Airflow Connections which id’s started with my_prefix_:

from airflow import settings
from airflow.models import Connection

session = settings.Session()
    conns: Iterable[Connection] = (
    conn_ids = [conn.conn_id for conn in conns]

In common DAG you would not use SQLAlchemy - for bulk operations that would be just too slow.

If you do need SQLAlchemy model inside DAG you can get SQLAlchemy session for example from PostgresHook

hook = PostgresHook(postgres_conn_id=my_conn_id)
engine = hook.get_sqlalchemy_engine()
session = sessionmaker(bind=engine)()

But if you are going to do that in many Apache Airflow tasks this code will unnecessary complicate you business logic code. Moreover you should close the DB connection to prevent connection leakage. So this is additional try-finally around your code and it will became even more obscure.

Luckily you can easily create SQLAlchemy Operator for Apache Airflow and encapsulate all this code in it.

For example this is SQLAlchemy Operator for Postgres.

from airflow.operators.python_operator import PythonOperator
from airflow.utils.decorators import apply_defaults
from sqlalchemy.orm import sessionmaker, Session
from airflow.hooks.postgres_hook import PostgresHook

def get_session(conn_id: str) -> Session:
    hook = PostgresHook(postgres_conn_id=conn_id)
    engine = hook.get_sqlalchemy_engine()
    return sessionmaker(bind=engine)()

class SQLAlchemyOperator(PythonOperator):
    PythonOperator with SQLAlchemy session management - creates session for the Python callable
    and commit/rollback it afterwards.

    Set `conn_id` with you DB connection.

    Pass `session` parameter to the python callable.
    def __init__(
            conn_id: str,
            *args, **kwargs):
        self.conn_id = conn_id
        super().__init__(*args, **kwargs)

    def execute_callable(self):
        session = get_session(self.conn_id)
            result = self.python_callable(*self.op_args, session=session, **self.op_kwargs)
        except Exception:
        return result

This is how to use it:

dag = DAG(
    schedule_interval='0 2 1 * *',  # monthly at 2:00 AM, 1st day of a month
    start_date=datetime(2020, 8, 1),  

def sqlalchemy_task(session: Session, **kwargs):

request_count = SQLAlchemyOperator(
Written on August 20, 2020