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A pipeline is a Pachyderm primitive that is responsible for reading data from a specified source, such as a Pachyderm repo, transforming it according to the pipeline configuration, and writing the result to an output repo. A pipeline subscribes to a branch in one or more input repositories. Every time the branch has a new commit, the pipeline executes a job that runs your code to completion and writes the results to a commit in the output repository. Every pipeline automatically creates an output repository by the same name as the pipeline. For example, a pipeline named model writes all results to the model output repo.

In Pachyderm, a Pipeline is an individual execution step. You can chain multiple pipelines together to create a directed acyclic graph (DAG).

You define a pipeline declaratively, using a JSON or YAML file. Pipeline specification files follow Pachyderm's pipeline reference specification file.

A minimum pipeline specification must include the following parameters:

  • name — The name of your data pipeline. Set a meaningful name for your pipeline, such as the name of the transformation that the pipeline performs. For example, split or edges. Pachyderm automatically creates an output repository with the same name. A pipeline name must be an alphanumeric string that is less than 63 characters long and can include dashes and underscores. No other special characters allowed.

  • input — A location of the data that you want to process, such as a Pachyderm repository. You can specify multiple input repositories and set up the data to be combined in various ways. For more information, see Cross and Union, Join, Group. One very important property that is defined in the input field is the glob pattern that specifies how Pachyderm breaks the data into individual processing units, called Datums. For more information, see Datum.

  • transform — Specifies the code that you want to run against your data. The transform section must include an image field that defines the Docker image that you want to run, as well as a cmd field for the specific code within the container that you want to execute, such as a Python script.


  "pipeline": {
    "name": "wordcount"
  "transform": {
    "image": "wordcount-image",
    "cmd": ["python3", "/"]
  "input": {
        "pfs": {
            "repo": "data",
            "glob": "/*"

Pachyderm has the following special types of pipelines whose behavior might slightly differ from the 'regular' pipelines described above:

A cron input enables you to trigger the pipeline code at a specific interval. This type of pipeline is useful for such tasks as web scraping, querying a database, and other similar operations where you do not want to wait for new data, but instead trigger the pipeline periodically.
A service is a special type of pipeline that instead of executing jobs and then waiting, permanently runs a serving data through an endpoint. For example, you can be serving an ML model or a REST API that can be queried. A service reads data from Pachyderm but does not have an output repo.
A spout is a special type of pipeline for ingesting data from a data stream. A spout can subscribe to a message stream, such as Kafka or Amazon SQS, and ingest data when it receives a message. A spout does not have an input repo.

Last update: July 23, 2022
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