Airflow has a simple plugin manager built-in that can integrate external features to its core by simply dropping files in your $AIRFLOW_HOME/plugins folder.

The python modules in the plugins folder get imported, and hooks, operators, macros, executors and web views get integrated to Airflow’s main collections and become available for use.

What for?

Airflow offers a generic toolbox for working with data. Different organizations have different stacks and different needs. Using Airflow plugins can be a way for companies to customize their Airflow installation to reflect their ecosystem.

Plugins can be used as an easy way to write, share and activate new sets of features.

There’s also a need for a set of more complex applications to interact with different flavors of data and metadata.


  • A set of tools to parse Hive logs and expose Hive metadata (CPU /IO / phases/ skew /...)
  • An anomaly detection framework, allowing people to collect metrics, set thresholds and alerts
  • An auditing tool, helping understand who accesses what
  • A config-driven SLA monitoring tool, allowing you to set monitored tables and at what time they should land, alert people, and expose visualizations of outages
  • ...

Why build on top of Airflow?

Airflow has many components that can be reused when building an application:

  • A web server you can use to render your views
  • A metadata database to store your models
  • Access to your databases, and knowledge of how to connect to them
  • An array of workers that your application can push workload to
  • Airflow is deployed, you can just piggy back on it’s deployment logistics
  • Basic charting capabilities, underlying libraries and abstractions


To create a plugin you will need to derive the airflow.plugins_manager.AirflowPlugin class and reference the objects you want to plug into Airflow. Here’s what the class you need to derive looks like:

class AirflowPlugin(object):
    # The name of your plugin (str)
    name = None
    # A list of class(es) derived from BaseOperator
    operators = []
    # A list of class(es) derived from BaseHook
    hooks = []
    # A list of class(es) derived from BaseExecutor
    executors = []
    # A list of references to inject into the macros namespace
    macros = []
    # A list of objects created from a class derived
    # from flask_admin.BaseView
    admin_views = []
    # A list of Blueprint object created from flask.Blueprint
    flask_blueprints = []
    # A list of menu links (flask_admin.base.MenuLink)
    menu_links = []


The code below defines a plugin that injects a set of dummy object definitions in Airflow.

# This is the class you derive to create a plugin
from airflow.plugins_manager import AirflowPlugin

from flask import Blueprint
from flask_admin import BaseView, expose
from flask_admin.base import MenuLink

# Importing base classes that we need to derive
from airflow.hooks.base_hook import BaseHook
from airflow.models import  BaseOperator
from airflow.executors.base_executor import BaseExecutor

# Will show up under airflow.hooks.test_plugin.PluginHook
class PluginHook(BaseHook):

# Will show up under airflow.operators.test_plugin.PluginOperator
class PluginOperator(BaseOperator):

# Will show up under airflow.executors.test_plugin.PluginExecutor
class PluginExecutor(BaseExecutor):

# Will show up under airflow.macros.test_plugin.plugin_macro
def plugin_macro():

# Creating a flask admin BaseView
class TestView(BaseView):
    def test(self):
        # in this example, put your test_plugin/test.html template at airflow/plugins/templates/test_plugin/test.html
        return self.render("test_plugin/test.html", content="Hello galaxy!")
v = TestView(category="Test Plugin", name="Test View")

# Creating a flask blueprint to intergrate the templates and static folder
bp = Blueprint(
    "test_plugin", __name__,
    template_folder='templates', # registers airflow/plugins/templates as a Jinja template folder

ml = MenuLink(
    category='Test Plugin',
    name='Test Menu Link',

# Defining the plugin class
class AirflowTestPlugin(AirflowPlugin):
    name = "test_plugin"
    operators = [PluginOperator]
    hooks = [PluginHook]
    executors = [PluginExecutor]
    macros = [plugin_macro]
    admin_views = [v]
    flask_blueprints = [bp]
    menu_links = [ml]