Sample streaming Dataflow pipeline written in Python

This repository contains a streaming Dataflow pipeline written in Python with
Apache Beam, reading data from PubSub.

For more details, see the following Beam Summit 2021 talk:

To run this pipeline, you need to have the SDK installed, and a project in
Google Cloud Platform, even if you run the pipeline locally with the direct

Description of the pipeline

Data input

We are using here a public PubSub topic with data, so we don't need to setup
our own to run this pipeline.

The topic is projects/pubsub-public-data/topics/taxirides-realtime.

That topic contains messages from the NYC Taxi Ride dataset. Here is a sample
of the data contained in a message in that topic:

  "ride_id": "328bec4b-0126-42d4-9381-cb1dbf0e2432",
  "point_idx": 305,
  "latitude": 40.776270000000004,
  "longitude": -73.99111,
  "timestamp": "2020-03-27T21:32:51.48098-04:00",
  "meter_reading": 9.403651,
  "meter_increment": 0.030831642,
  "ride_status": "enroute",
  "passenger_count": 1

But the messages also contain metadata, that is useful for streaming pipelines.
In this case, the messages contain an attribute of name ts, which contains
the same timestamp as the field of name timestamp in the data. Remember that
PubSub treats the data as just a string of bytes, so it does not know
anything about the data itself. The metadata fields are normally used to publish
messages with specific ids and/or timestamps.

To inspect the messages from this topic, you can create a subscription, and then
pull some messages.

To create a subscription, use the gcloud cli utility (installed by default in
the Cloud Shell):

export TOPIC=projects/pubsub-public-data/topics/taxirides-realtime
gcloud pubsub subscriptions create taxis --topic $TOPIC

To pull messages:

gcloud pubsub subscriptions pull taxis --limit 3

or if you have jq (for pretty printing of

gcloud pubsub subscriptions pull taxis --limit 3 | grep " {" | cut -f 2 -d ' ' | jq

Pay special attention to the Attributes column (metadata). You will see that
the timestamp included as a field in the metadata, as well as in the
data. We will leverage that metadata field for the timestamps used in
our streaming pipeline.

Data output

This pipeline writes the output to BigQuery, in streaming append-only mode.

The destination tables must exist prior to running the pipeline.

If you have the GCloud cli utility installed (for instance, it is installed
by default in the Cloud Shell), you can create the tables from the command line.

You need to create a BigQuery dataset too, in the same region:

After that, you can create the destination tables with the provided script

./scripts/ taxi_rides

Algorithm / business rules

We are using a session window with a gap of 10 seconds. That means that all
the messages with the same ride_id will be grouped together, as long as
their timestamps are 10 seconds within each other. Any message with a
timestamp more than 10 seconds apart will be discarded (for old timestamps) or
will open a new window (for newer timestamps).

With the messages inside each window (that is, each different ride_id will be
part of a different window), we will calculate the duration of the session, as
the difference between the min and max timestamps in the window. We will also
calculate the number of events in that session.

We will use a GroupByKey to operate with all the messages in a window. This
will load all the messages in the window into memory. This is fine, as in
Beam streaming, a window is always processed in a worker (windows cannot be
split across different workers).

This is an example of the kind of logic that can be implemented leveraging
windows in streaming pipelines. This grouping of messages across ride_id and
event timestamps is automatically done by the pipeline, and we just need to
express the generic operations to be performed with each window, as part of our

Running the pipeline


You need to have a Google Cloud project, and the gcloud SDK configured to
run the pipeline. For instance, you could run it from the Cloud Shell in
Google Cloud Platform (gcloud would be automatically configured).

Then you need to create a Google Cloud Storage bucket, with the same name as
your project id, and in the same region where you will run Dataflow:

Make sure that you have a Python environment with Python 3 (<3.9). For
instance a virtualenv, and install apache-beam[gcp] and python-dateutil
in your local environment. For instance, assuming that you are running in a

pip install "apache-beam[gcp]" python-dateutil

Run the pipeline

Once the tables are created and the dependencies installed, edit
scripts/ and set your project id and region, and
then run it with:


The outputs will be written to the BigQuery tables, and in the profile
directory in your bucket you should see Python gprof files with profiling

CPU profiling

Beam uses the Python profiler to produce files in Python gprof format. You
will need some scripting to interpret those files and extracts insights out
of them.

In this repository, you will find some sample output in data/,
that you can use to check what the profiling output looks like. Use the
following Colab notebook with an example analyzing that sample profiling data:

Refer to this post for more details about how to interpret that file: