Concepts in Orchest#

This document tries to explain “How Orchest works”.

High-level overview#

From a high-level standpoint, all the pages in Orchest are just “views” on files on the filesystem. For example, Pipelines that are shown in the pipeline editor are just JSON files under the hood (see the Pipeline JSON schema).

A Pipeline in the pipeline editor


Before getting into the core concepts in Orchest, it is good to realize that Orchest is a fully containerized application that runs on a Kubernetes cluster. This means that all code that is executed is executed within a container, this includes user code!


Dedicated section: Projects.

Apart from global settings and authentication, everything in Orchest is encapsulated by Projects. You can think of a Project as a folder on your filesystem that contains a bunch of Files, some of which are “special” (hinting at Pipeline files with a .orchest extension). In addition to the filesystem state, Orchest saves state in a database. This state includes things such as environment variables.

Concept of a Project in Orchest

Within a Project there can be any number of files. In the context of Orchest, these tend to be executable files, such as: Python files, Notebooks and R files. Nothing special here!

Concept of Step Files in Orchest

Dedicated section: Pipelines.

Glossary: Pipelines.

Another important concept in Orchest are Pipelines. A Pipeline can be constructed by connecting multiple Steps (the smallest unit of execution in Orchest), which determines the order of execution of those Steps. Moreover, you can pass data between connected Steps to continue working on resulting data.

A Pipeline’s full description is stored in a single JSON file (called the pipeline definition). This means that Pipelines can be fully versioned as well so you can track of any changes that are made to them.

Concept of a Pipeline in Orchest

Glossary: Steps.

As was noted in the previous section about Pipelines; a Step is the smallest unit of execution in Orchest. As part of a Step you can configure: (1) the File you want to execute, and (2) the Environment (just a container) to execute the File in. Remember, Orchest is a fully containerized application.

Steps execute your code and thus give you full flexibility of what you want to achieve!

Concept of Pipeline Steps in Orchest

Dedicated section: Environments.

Glossary: Environments.

Because Orchest is a fully containerized application, all your code needs to run in a dedicated container. Combined with the fact that code can depend on additional dependencies (who hasn’t used a library before) the container (the underlying image to be more precise) needs to be configured to your needs. In Orchest we let you fully customize your container images using a set-up script, which we then automatically build for you. This is what we call an Environment.

Concept of Environments in Orchest

Dedicated section: Jobs.

Glossary: job.

After you have created your Pipeline, coded your Files, configured your Steps and set up your Environments, you inevitably want to be running your Pipeline. In Orchest, this can be done by running a Pipeline inside the pipeline editor (called an interactive run) or through Jobs. The former allows for easy testing whilst you are developing your Pipeline and the latter (Jobs) let you run your Pipeline in productuction on a recurring schedule (e.g. daily).

Concept of a Job in Orchest

Putting it all together#

Now that you are familiar with the core concepts in Orchest, lets look at the file structure of an example Project called myproject:

    ├── .git/
    ├── .gitignore
    ├── .orchest
    │   └── environments/
    ├── pipeline.orchest
    ├── step-1.ipynb

Things we can see here:

  • .git/ means that the Project is versioned using git.

  • .orchest/environments contains the set-up of Environments. Yes, they are fully versioned as well so that your Project fully encapsulates all dependencies!

  • pipeline.orchest is the Pipeline of the Project, consisting of step-1.ipynb and