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Activities in Java

What is an Activity?#

Activities are implementations of certain tasks which need to be performed during a Workflow execution. They can be used to interact with external systems, such as databases, services, etc.

Workflows orchestrate invocations of Activities.

Just like Workflows, Activities must be registered with a Worker.

Activity interface#

Similar to Workflows, Activities in Temporal Java SDK programming model are classes which implement the ActivityInterface Interface.

Activity Interfaces are Java Interfaces which are annotated with the @ActivityInterface annotation:

@ActivityInterfacepublic interface GreetingActivities {    String composeGreeting(String greeting, String language);}

Each method defined in the Actvity interface defines a separate Activity method. You can annotate each method in the Activity interface with the @ActivityMethod annotation, but this is completely optional, for example:

@ActivityInterfacepublic interface GreetingActivities {    @ActivityMethod(name = "greet")    String composeGreeting(String greeting, String language);}

Note that the @ActivityMethod annotation has a name parameter which can be used to define the Activity type. If it is specified like in the example above the type would be "greet". If not specified, the Activity method name (with the first letter capitalized) is used by default, so in the example again it would be composeGreeting.

Activity implementation#

An Activity implementation is Java class which implements an Activity Interface, for example:

  public class MultiLanguageGreeting implements GreetingsActivities {    private final TranslationService translationService;
    public MultiLanguageGreeting(TranslationService translationService) {      this.translationService = translationService;    }
    @Override    public String composeGreeting(String greeting, String language) {      return translationService.translate(greeting, language);    }  }

Registering Activities with a Worker#

Just like Workflows, Activities need to be registered with a Worker, for example:

    Worker worker = factory.newWorker(TASK_QUEUE);    ...    // register the Activity    worker.registerActivitiesImplementations(new MultiLanguageGreeting(translationService));

Note that when registering Activities, we register an instance of the Activity implementation, and can pass any number of dependencies in its constructor, such as the database connections, services, etc.

Invoking Activities inside Workflows#

Similar to Workflows, Activities should only be instantiated via stubs.

Workflow.newActivityStub returns a client-side stub that implements an Activity interface. It takes Activity type and Activity options as arguments. Activity options allow you to specify different Activity timeout and retry options.

Calling a method on this interface invokes an Activity that implements this method. An Activity invocation synchronously blocks until the Activity completes, fails, or times out. Even if an Activity's execution takes a few months, the Workflow code still sees it as a single synchronous invocation. It doesn't matter what happens to the processes that host the Workflow. The business logic code just sees a single method call.

Let's take a look at an example Workflow that calls Activities:

public class FileProcessingWorkflowImpl implements FileProcessingWorkflow {
    private final FileProcessingActivities activities;
    public FileProcessingWorkflowImpl() {        this.activities = Workflow.newActivityStub(                FileProcessingActivities.class,                ActivityOptions.newBuilder()                        .setStartToCloseTimeout(Duration.ofHours(1))                        .build());    }
    @Override    public void processFile(Arguments args) {        String localName = null;        String processedName = null;        try {            localName =, args.getSourceFilename());            processedName = activities.processFile(localName);            activities.upload(args.getTargetBucketName(), args.getTargetFilename(), processedName);        } finally {            if (localName != null) {                activities.deleteLocalFile(localName);            }            if (processedName != null) {                activities.deleteLocalFile(processedName);            }        }    }    // ...}

In this example we use Workflow.newActivityStub to create a client-side stub of our file processing Activity. We also define ActivityOptions and set the setStartToCloseTimeout timeout to one hour, meaning that we set the total execution timeout for each of its method invocations to one hour (from when the Activity execution is started to when it completes).

Workflow can create multiple Activity stubs. Each activity stub can have its own ActivityOptions defined, for example:

public FileProcessingWorkflowImpl() {    ActivityOptions options1 = ActivityOptions.newBuilder()             .setTaskQueue("taskQueue1")             .setStartToCloseTimeout(Duration.ofMinutes(10))             .build();    this.store1 = Workflow.newActivityStub(FileProcessingActivities.class, options1);
    ActivityOptions options2 = ActivityOptions.newBuilder()             .setTaskQueue("taskQueue2")             .setStartToCloseTimeout(Duration.ofMinutes(5))             .build();    this.store2 = Workflow.newActivityStub(FileProcessingActivities.class, options2);}

Invoking Activities Asynchronously#

Sometimes Workflows need to perform certain operations in parallel. The Temporal Java SDK provides the Async class which includes static methods used to invoke any Activity asynchronously. The calls return a result of type Promise which is similar to the Java Future and CompletionStage.

When you need to get the results of an async invoked Activity method, you can use the Promise get method to block until the Activity method result is available.

To convert the following synchronous Activity method call:

String localName =, sourceFile);

To asynchronous style, the method reference is passed to Async.function or Async.procedure followed by Activity arguments:

Promise<String> localNamePromise = Async.function(activities::download, sourceBucket, sourceFile);

Then to wait synchronously for the result you can do the following:

String localName = localNamePromise.get();

Here is the above example rewritten to call download and upload Activity methods in parallel, on multiple files:

  public void processFile(Arguments args) {    List<Promise<String>> localNamePromises = new ArrayList<>();    List<String> processedNames = null;    try {      // Download all files in parallel.      for (String sourceFilename : args.getSourceFilenames()) {        Promise<String> localName =            Async.function(activities::download, args.getSourceBucketName(), sourceFilename);        localNamePromises.add(localName);      }      List<String> localNames = new ArrayList<>();      for (Promise<String> localName : localNamePromises) {        localNames.add(localName.get());      }      processedNames = activities.processFiles(localNames);
      // Upload all results in parallel.      List<Promise<Void>> uploadedList = new ArrayList<>();      for (String processedName : processedNames) {        Promise<Void> uploaded =            Async.procedure(                activities::upload,                args.getTargetBucketName(),                args.getTargetFilename(),                processedName);        uploadedList.add(uploaded);      }      // Wait for all uploads to complete.      Promise.allOf(uploadedList).get();    } finally {      for (Promise<String> localNamePromise : localNamePromises) {        // Skip files that haven't completed downloading.        if (localNamePromise.isCompleted()) {          activities.deleteLocalFile(localNamePromise.get());        }      }      if (processedNames != null) {        for (String processedName : processedNames) {          activities.deleteLocalFile(processedName);        }      }    }  }

Invoking Activities via Workflow.newUntypedActivityStub#

It is also possible to invoke Activities inside Workflows using Workflow.newUntypedActivityStub, meaning you can invoke them without referencing an interface it implements. This is useful in scenarios where the Activity type is not known at compile time, or to invoke Activities implemented in different programming languages.

   // Workflow code    ActivityOptions activityOptions =        ActivityOptions.newBuilder()        .setStartToCloseTimeout(Duration.ofSeconds(3))        .setTaskQueue("simple-queue-node")        .build();
    ActivityStub activity = Workflow.newUntypedActivityStub(activityOptions);    activity.execute("ComposeGreeting", String.class, "Hello World" , "Spanish");

Activity Execution Context#

ActivityExecutionContext is a context object passed to each Activity implementation by default. You can access it in your Activity implementations via Activity.getExecutionContext().

It provides getters to access information about the Workflow that invoked the Activity. Note that the Activity context information is stored in a thread-local variable. Therefore, calls to getExecutionContext() succeed only within the thread that invoked the Activity function.

Following is an example of using the ActivityExecutionContext:

public class FileProcessingActivitiesImpl implements FileProcessingActivities {
  @Override  public String download(String bucketName, String remoteName, String localName) {
    ActivityExecutionContext ctx = Activity.getExecutionContext();    ActivityInfo info = ctx.getInfo();"namespace=" +  info.getActivityNamespace());"workflowId=" + info.getWorkflowId());"runId=" + info.getRunId());"activityId=" + info.getActivityId());"activityTimeout=" + info.getStartToCloseTimeoutSeconds());
    return downloadFileFromS3(bucketName, remoteName, localDirectory + localName);  }    ...}

Asynchronous Activity Completion#

Sometimes an Activity lifecycle goes beyond a synchronous method invocation. For example, a request can be put in a queue and later a reply comes and is picked up by a different Worker process. The whole request-reply interaction can be modeled as a single Activity.

To indicate that an Activity should not be completed upon its method return, call ActivityExecutionContext.doNotCompleteOnReturn() from the original Activity thread.

Then later, when replies come, complete the Activity using the ActivityCompletionClient. To correlate Activity invocation with completion use either a TaskToken or Workflow and Activity IDs.

Following is an example of using ActivityExecutionContext.doNotCompleteOnReturn():

public class FileProcessingActivitiesImpl implements FileProcessingActivities {
  public String download(String bucketName, String remoteName, String localName) {
    ActivityExecutionContext ctx = Activity.getExecutionContext();
    // Used to correlate reply    byte[] taskToken = ctx.getInfo().getTaskToken();    asyncDownloadFileFromS3(taskToken, bucketName, remoteName, localDirectory + localName);    ctx.doNotCompleteOnReturn();
    // Return value is ignored when doNotCompleteOnReturn was called.    return "ignored";  }  ...}

When the download is complete, the download service potentially can complete the Activity, or fail it from a different process, for example:

  public <R> void completeActivity(byte[] taskToken, R result) {    completionClient.complete(taskToken, result);  }
  public void failActivity(byte[] taskToken, Exception failure) {    completionClient.completeExceptionally(taskToken, failure);  }

Activity heartbeats#

Activities can be long-running. In these cases the Activity execution timeouts should be set to be longer than the maximum predicted time of the Activity execution. In those cases it can happen that an Activity execution is started and cannot proceed, or fails to continue its execution for some reasons. With our long set execution timeout the calling Workflow will not be able to time out the Activity and retry it or fail it until this timeout is reached.

In order to react quickly to crashes of long-running Activities you can use the Activity heartbeat mechanism. You can set a short heartbeat timeout in order to detect Activity issues and react to them without having to wait for the long Activity execution timeout to complete first.

Activity.getExecutionContext().heartbeat() lets the Temporal service know that the Activity is still alive.

The Activity.getExecutionContext().heartbeat() can take an argument which represents heartbeat details. If an Activity times out, the last heartbeat details will be included in the thrown ActivityTimeoutException which can be caught by the calling Workflow. The Workflow then can use the details information to pass to the next Activity invocation if needed.

In the case of Activity retries, the last Heartbeat's details are available and can be extracted from the last fail attempt using Activity.getExecutionContext().getHeartbeatDetails(Class<V> detailsClass)

Following is an example of using Activity heartbeat:

public class FileProcessingActivitiesImpl implements FileProcessingActivities {
  @Override  public String download(String bucketName, String remoteName, String localName) {    InputStream inputStream = openInputStream(file);    try {      byte[] bytes = new byte[MAX_BUFFER_SIZE];      while ((read = != -1) {        totalRead += read;        f.write(bytes, 0, read);        // Let the Server know about the download progress.        Activity.getExecutionContext().heartbeat(totalRead);      }    } finally{      inputStream.close();    }  }  ...}

Activity Cancellation#

A Workflow can request to cancel an Activity. When an Activity is cancelled, or its Workflow execution has completed or failed, the context passed into its function is cancelled, which also sets its channel’s closed state to Done. An Activity can use that to perform any necessary cleanup and abort its execution.

Cancellation is only delivered to Activities that record heartbeats:

  • The heartbeat request fails with a special error indicating that the Activity was cancelled. Heartbeats can also fail when the Workflow that invoked it is in a completed state.
  • The Activity should perform all necessary cleanup and report when it is done.
  • The Workflow can decide if it wants to wait for the Activity cancellation confirmation or proceed without waiting.

Throwing Activity errors#

If there is a need to throw checked Exception from Activity methods which do not support re-throwing checked Exceptions in their signatures, you should wrap them using the Activity.wrap method and re-throw the Exceptions.

There is no need to wrap unchecked Exceptions, but it's safe to do so if you want to.

In addition, when wrapping checked Exceptions, the original Exception is attached as a cause to the wrapped one, and is not lost.

Here is an example of catching a checked Exception and wrapping it:

try {  return someCall();} catch (Exception e) {  throw Activity.wrap(e);}

Note that any Exception thrown from an Activity is converted to io.temporal.failure.ApplicationFailure, unless the thrown Exception extends io.temporal.failure.TemporalException .