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Airflow plugins

Plugins are external features that can be added to customize your Airflow installation. They are automatically imported upon starting your Airflow instance if they have been added to plugins folder of an Airflow project.

In this guide, you'll learn how to add a plugin to your Airflow instance and what Airflow components can be part of a plugin.

Assumed knowledge

To get the most out of this guide, you should have an understanding of:

When to use plugins

Plugins offer a flexible way to customize your Airflow experience by building on top of existing Airflow components. For example, you can:

  • Add views to your Airflow UI that display contents of the Airflow metadata database in a custom way.
  • Build an application that monitors Airflow's functioning and sends out custom alerts, for example in case of a certain number of DAGs failing in a specified time frame.
  • Add a button to the task instance Details view that dynamically links to files or logs in external data tools relevant to the task.

How to create a plugin

To add a new plugin to your Airflow instance, you need to create a Python file in the plugins folder of your Airflow project. Within that file, create a class which inherits from the AirflowPlugin to define the plugin. The code snippet below defines a plugin with the name empty without any components.

from airflow.plugins_manager import AirflowPlugin

class MyAirflowPlugin(AirflowPlugin):
# name your plugin, this is mandatory
name = "empty"

## Add plugin components
# ...
# ...
# ...

# Add an optional callback to perform actions when airflow starts and
# the plugin is loaded.
# NOTE: Ensure your plugin has *args, and **kwargs in the method definition
# to protect against extra parameters injected into the on_load()
# function in future changes
def on_load(*args, **kwargs):
# perform Plugin boot actions

The list of currently active plugins can be viewed in the Airflow UI under Admin -> Plugins. The code above creates the following entry:

Empty plugin


In order for changes to your plugin to be registered, you will need to restart any Airflow components (e.g. the webserver or scheduler) that use the plugin. Learn more in the official Airflow documentation on plugins.

Plugin components

Functionality is added to a plugin by adding components to the class which defines the plugin. There are 10 types of plugin components that can be added to Airflow. In this guide we will show the more commonly used components, including:

  • appbuilder_menu_items allow you to add additional sections and links to the Airflow menu.
  • flask_blueprints and appbuilder_views offer the possibility to build a Flask project on top of Airflow.
  • operator_extra_links and global_operator_extra_links are ways to add links to Airflow task instances.
  • macros expand upon existing Jinja templates using custom functions.

Other types of plugin components not covered in this guide include:

  • timetables offer the option to register custom timetables that define schedules which cannot be expressed in CRON. See the DAG scheduling and timetables in Airflow guide for more information and a code example.
  • executors add the possibility to use a custom executor in your Airflow instance.
  • listeners are an experimental feature to add notifications for events happening in Airflow. Learn more in the official Airflow documentation.

Before Airflow 2.0 custom operators and hooks were added as plugins. This pattern has been deprecated and custom operators and hooks can now be used simply by importing a script located in include.

Appbuilder menu items

You can update the menu at the top of the Airflow UI to contain custom tabs with links to external websites. Adding top-level menu items and adding sub-items are both supported.

from airflow.plugins_manager import AirflowPlugin

# creating a new top-level menu item
appbuilder_mitem_toplevel = {
"name": "Apache",
"href": "",

# creating a new sub-item in the Docs menu item
appbuilder_mitem_subitem = {
"name": "Astro SDK Docs",
"href": "",
"category": "Docs",

# defining the plugin class
class MyMenuItemsPlugin(AirflowPlugin):
name = "Menu items plugin"

# adding the menu items to the plugin
appbuilder_menu_items = [appbuilder_mitem_toplevel, appbuilder_mitem_subitem]

The code above creates a plugin that adds two menu items.

  • appbuilder_mitem_toplevel is a top-level menu button named Apache that links to the Apache homepage.
  • appbuilder_mitem_subitem is a sub-item which is added to the Docs menu. It has the name Astro SDK Docs and links out to the documentation for the Astro SDK.

Both additional menu items are added to the app_builder_menu_items component of a plugin called Menu items plugin which is defined in the MyMenuItemsPlugin class. The screenshot below shows the additional menu items in the Airflow UI.

Plugins Menu items

Flask Blueprints and Appbuilder views

Flask blueprints and views are plugin components that allow you to add more elaborate customization to the Airflow UI. A Flask blueprint functions as an organizational tool to group related views and supporting code while Flask views render webpages from html templates.


To learn more check out the Blueprints and Views tutorial in the official Flask documentation.

You can add a view to render a simple templated HTML file on top of the Airflow UI by following these steps:

  1. Create a folder within the plugins directory called templates.

  2. Within that folder create a HTML file called test.html and copy the collowing code into it:

    <!DOCTYPE html>
    <p>Airflow is {{ content }}!</p>
  3. In the plugins directory, add a Python file called Copy the code below.

    from airflow.plugins_manager import AirflowPlugin
    from flask import Blueprint
    from flask_appbuilder import expose, BaseView as AppBuilderBaseView

    # define a Flask blueprint
    my_blueprint = Blueprint(
    # register airflow/plugins/templates as a Jinja template folder

    # create a flask appbuilder BaseView
    class MyBaseView(AppBuilderBaseView):
    default_view = "test"

    def test(self):
    # render the HTML file from the templates directory with content
    return self.render_template("test.html", content="awesome")

    # instantiate MyBaseView
    my_view = MyBaseView()

    # define the path to my_view in the Airflow UI
    my_view_package = {
    # define the menu sub-item name
    "name": "Test View",
    # define the top-level menu item
    "category": "My Extra View",
    "view": my_view,

    # define the plugin class
    class MyViewPlugin(AirflowPlugin):
    # name the plugin
    name = "My appbuilder view"
    # add the blueprint and appbuilder_views components
    flask_blueprints = [my_blueprint]
    appbuilder_views = [my_view_package]
  4. Start your Airflow instance using astro dev start or astro dev restart if you were already running Airflow.

This plugin will add a top-level menu item called My Extra View which contains the sub-item Test View.

Test View Menu

By clicking on Test View you can access the Flask View that was defined as my_view. It shows the HTML template (test.html) rendered with the provided content.

Test View

Operator extra links are additional buttons with links that can be added to specific operators. They can be defined as Python classes derived from the BaseOperatorLink class. The example below shows how to create a new operator extra link MyLink that is applied to MyOperator1 and MyOperator2. The operator extra link is registered with the MyAirflowPlugin by adding it its operator_extra_links list.

from airflow.models.baseoperator import BaseOperatorLink
from include.custom_operators import MyOperator1, MyOperator2
from airflow.plugins_manager import AirflowPlugin

# create the operator extra link
class MyLink(BaseOperatorLink):

# name the link button
name = "My extra link"

# add the link button to one or more operators
operators = [MyOperator1, MyOperator2]

# function determining the link
def get_link(self, operator, *, ti_key=None):
return ""

# add the operator extra link to a plugin
class MyOperatorExtraLink(AirflowPlugin):
name = "my_plugin_name"
operator_extra_links = [

The screenshot below shows an operator extra link called "HTTP cat" that was added to the custom CatHttpOperator. For more instructions, see this step-by-step tutorial on how to add operator extra links.

Cat Button

Global operator extra links are additional buttons with links that will be added to every operator. This example adds a button named Airflow docs to all operators that links out to the Airflow documentation.

class GlobalLink(BaseOperatorLink):
# name the link button
name = "Airflow docs"

# function determining the link
def get_link(self, operator, *, ti_key=None):
return ""

# add the operator extra link to a plugin
class MyGlobalLink(AirflowPlugin):
name = "my_plugin_name"
global_operator_extra_links = [

You can access the button on task instances in both the Graph and Grid views.

Airflow Docs Button


In Airflow you can define custom macros which can be accessed using Jinja templating. Macros can be added at the DAG level by defining them in the DAG parameter user_defined_macros as shown in Using Airflow templates. If you want to make macros available to your whole Airflow instance you can register them as a plugin.

Common use cases for custom macros include:

  • Injecting dynamic datetime objects into DAG code in formats not available in pre-defined macros. For example, converting the {{ ts }} predefined macro, which provides the logical date of the DAG as a timestamp from YYYY-MM-DDThh:mm:ss+00:00 to hh:mm.
  • Injecting dynamic arguments into DAG code based on Python logic. For example, passing a different argument to a function on weekdays versus the weekend.
  • Injecting dynamic arguments into DAG code based on XCom values. For example, using a different target blob storage depending on how many files will be ingested, a count determined and pushed to XCom by an upstream task.
from airflow.plugins_manager import AirflowPlugin
from random import randint

def random_number_macro():
return randint(0, 1000)

class MyAirflowMacro(AirflowPlugin):
name = "my_macro_plugin"
macros = [

The code above creates a macro that returns a random number between 0 and 1000. It can be referenced using Jinja templating in any templateable parameter of any operator. The code snippet below shows how the macro can be used within the bash_command parameter of the BashOperator to print out a random number.

use_plugin_macro = BashOperator(
bash_command="echo {{ macros.my_macro_plugin.random_number_macro() }}",

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