Understanding Apache Airflow’s ‘connections’ Command

Apache Airflow

In the realm of Apache Airflow, ensuring tasks can communicate with various services is essential. Enter Airflow’s connections: a mechanism to store credentials, host details, and other valuable information. The connections command-line interface (CLI) is pivotal for managing these connections. This article demystifies the connections command, exploring its intricacies, use cases, and best practices.

Before diving into the command, let’s define Airflow connections. They are sets of metadata that define how tasks in your DAGs can reach external systems. This could be databases, cloud providers, or any other services your tasks might need to interact with.

The connections Command

Airflow provides a command-line interface to simplify many tasks. Among them, the connections command is dedicated to managing these crucial connection configurations. The syntax generally follows:

airflow connections [sub-command]

Sub-commands and Usage:


Usage: airflow connections list
Description: This will display a tabulated list of all connections available in your Airflow metadata database.


Usage: airflow connections add [name] –conn-type [type] –conn-host [host] …
Description: Allows you to add a new connection. You can specify various parameters like connection type (–conn-type), host (–conn-host), login, password, schema, and more.


Usage: airflow connections delete [name]
Description: Deletes the specified connection.


Usage: airflow connections get [name]
Description: Retrieves and displays details of a specific connection.


Usage: airflow connections edit [name] –conn-host [new_host] …
Description: Allows you to modify an existing connection. You can change any of the connection parameters using the respective flags.

Why Use the connections Command?

Automation and Scripting: When setting up Airflow instances programmatically, the connections CLI allows easy automation of connection configurations.

Backup and Replication: By listing and saving current connection configurations, you can backup or replicate connection setups across multiple Airflow instances.

Security: Instead of using the web-based UI, which might expose credentials in browser forms, the command line can be a more secure way to manage connections, especially when integrating with secret management tools.

Best Practices:

Never Hard-code Secrets: When adding connections via the command line, avoid hard-coding sensitive data in scripts. Use environment variables or integrate with secret management tools like HashiCorp’s Vault.

Regular Backups: Regularly backup your connections, especially before making bulk changes or upgrades.

Least Privilege Principle: When defining connections, always use credentials that have the least privileges necessary for the tasks to be performed. This minimizes risk in case of a breach.

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Author: user

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