Waiting for external inputs

New in Flyte 1.3.0

There are use cases where you may want a workflow execution to pause, only to continue when some time has passed or when it receives some inputs that are external to the workflow execution inputs. You can think of these as execution-time inputs, since they need to be supplied to the workflow after it’s launched. Examples of this use case would be:

  1. Model Deployment: A hyperparameter-tuning workflow that trains n models, where a human needs to inspect a report before approving the model for downstream deployment to some serving layer.

  2. Data Labeling: A workflow that iterates through an image dataset, presenting individual images to a human annotator for them to label.

  3. Active Learning: An active learning workflow that trains a model, shows examples for a human annotator to label based which examples it’s least/most certain about or would provide the most information to the model.

These use cases can be achieved in Flyte with the sleep(), wait_for_input(), and approve() workflow nodes. Although all of the examples above are human-in-the-loop processes, these constructs allow you to pass inputs into a workflow from some arbitrary external process (👩 human or 🤖 machine) in order to continue.


These functions can only be used inside @workflow-decorated functions, @dynamic-decorated functions, or imperative workflows.

Pause executions with the sleep node

The simplest case is when you want your workflow to sleep() for some specified amount of time before continuing.

Though this type of node may not be used often in a production setting, you might want to use it, for example, if you want to simulate a delay in your workflow to mock out the behavior of some long-running computation.


To clone and run the example code on this page, see the Flytesnacks repo.

from datetime import timedelta

from flytekit import sleep, task, workflow

def long_running_computation(num: int) -> int:
    """A mock task pretending to be a long-running computation."""
    return num

def sleep_wf(num: int) -> int:
    """Simulate a "long-running" computation with sleep."""

    # increase the sleep duration to actually make it long-running
    sleeping = sleep(timedelta(seconds=10))
    result = long_running_computation(num=num)
    sleeping >> result
    return result

As you can see above, we define a simple add_one task and a sleep_wf workflow. We first create a sleeping and result node, then order the dependencies with the >> operator such that the workflow sleeps for 10 seconds before kicking off the result computation. Finally, we return the result.


You can learn more about the >> chaining operator here.

Now that you have a general sense of how this works, let’s move onto the wait_for_input() workflow node.


To clone and run the example code on this page, see the Flytesnacks repo.

Supply external inputs with wait_for_input

With the wait_for_input() node, you can pause a workflow execution that requires some external input signal. For example, suppose that you have a workflow that publishes an automated analytics report, but before publishing it you want to give it a custom title. You can achieve this by defining a wait_for_input node that takes a str input and finalizes the report:

import typing

from flytekit import wait_for_input

def create_report(data: typing.List[float]) -> dict:  # o0
    """A toy report task."""
    return {
        "mean": sum(data) / len(data),
        "length": len(data),
        "max": max(data),
        "min": min(data),

def finalize_report(report: dict, title: str) -> dict:
    return {"title": title, **report}

def reporting_wf(data: typing.List[float]) -> dict:
    report = create_report(data=data)
    title_input = wait_for_input("title", timeout=timedelta(hours=1), expected_type=str)
    return finalize_report(report=report, title=title_input)

Let’s breakdown what’s happening in the code above:

  • In reporting_wf we first create the raw report

  • Then, we define a title node that will wait for a string to be provided through the Flyte API, which can be done through the Flyte UI or through FlyteRemote (more on that later). This node will time out after 1 hour.

  • Finally, we pass the title_input promise into finalize_report, which attaches the custom title to the report.


The create_report task is just toy example. In a realistic example, this report might be an html file or set of visualizations. This can be rendered in the Flyte UI with Flyte Decks.

As mentioned in the beginning of this page, this construct can be used for selecting the best-performing model in cases where there isn’t a clear single metric to determine the best model, or if you’re doing data labeling using a Flyte workflow.

Continue executions with approve

Finally, the approve() workflow node allows you to wait on an explicit approval signal before continuing execution. Going back to our report-publishing use case, suppose that we want to block the publishing of a report for some reason (e.g. if they don’t appear to be valid):

from flytekit import approve

def reporting_with_approval_wf(data: typing.List[float]) -> dict:
    report = create_report(data=data)
    title_input = wait_for_input("title", timeout=timedelta(hours=1), expected_type=str)
    final_report = finalize_report(report=report, title=title_input)

    # approve the final report, where the output of approve is the final_report
    # dictionary.
    return approve(final_report, "approve-final-report", timeout=timedelta(hours=2))

The approve node will pass the final_report promise through as the output of the workflow, provided that the approve-final-report gets an approval input via the Flyte UI or Flyte API.

You can also use the output of the approve function as a promise, feeding it to a subsequent task. Let’s create a version of our report-publishing workflow where the approval happens after create_report:

def approval_as_promise_wf(data: typing.List[float]) -> dict:
    report = create_report(data=data)
    title_input = wait_for_input("title", timeout=timedelta(hours=1), expected_type=str)

    # wait for report to run so that the user can view it before adding a custom
    # title to the report
    report >> title_input

    final_report = finalize_report(
        report=approve(report, "raw-report-approval", timeout=timedelta(hours=2)),
    return final_report

Working with conditionals

The node constructs by themselves are useful, but they become even more useful when we combine them with other Flyte constructs, like conditionals.

To illustrate this, let’s extend the report-publishing use case so that we produce an “invalid report” output in case we don’t approve the final report:

from flytekit import conditional

def invalid_report() -> dict:
    return {"invalid_report": True}

def conditional_wf(data: typing.List[float]) -> dict:
    report = create_report(data=data)
    title_input = wait_for_input("title-input", timeout=timedelta(hours=1), expected_type=str)

    # Define a "review-passes" wait_for_input node so that a human can review
    # the report before finalizing it.
    review_passed = wait_for_input("review-passes", timeout=timedelta(hours=2), expected_type=bool)
    report >> review_passed

    # This conditional returns the finalized report if the review passes,
    # otherwise it returns an invalid report output.
    return (
        .then(finalize_report(report=report, title=title_input))

On top of the approved node, which we use in the conditional to determine which branch to execute, we also define a disapprove_reason gate node, which will be used as an input to the invalid_report task.

Sending inputs to wait_for_input and approve nodes

Assuming that you’ve registered the above workflows on a Flyte cluster that’s been started with flytectl demo start, there are two ways of using wait_for_input and approve nodes:

Using the Flyte UI

If you launch the reporting_wf workflow on the Flyte UI, you’ll see a Graph view of the workflow execution like this:

reporting workflow wait for input graph

Clicking on the icon of the title task node or the Resume button on the sidebar will create a modal form that you can use to provide the custom title input.

reporting workflow wait for input form

Using FlyteRemote

For many cases it’s enough to use Flyte UI to provide inputs/approvals on gate nodes. However, if you want to pass inputs to wait_for_input and approve nodes programmatically, you can use the FlyteRemote.set_signal method. Using the gate_node_with_conditional_wf workflow, the example below allows you to set values for title-input and review-passes nodes.

import typing
from flytekit.remote.remote import FlyteRemote
from flytekit.configuration import Config

remote = FlyteRemote(

# First kick off the wotrkflow
flyte_workflow = remote.fetch_workflow(

# Execute the workflow
execution = remote.execute(flyte_workflow, inputs={"data": [1.0, 2.0, 3.0, 4.0, 5.0]})

# Get a list of signals available for the execution
signals = remote.list_signals(execution.id.name)

# Set a signal value for the "title" node. Make sure that the "title-input"
# node is in the `signals` list above
remote.set_signal("title-input", execution.id.name, "my report")

# Set signal value for the "review-passes" node. Make sure that the "review-passes"
# node is in the `signals` list above
remote.set_signal("review-passes", execution.id.name, True)