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Temporal CLI - tctl

The Temporal CLI is a command-line tool you can use to perform various tasks on a Temporal server. It can perform namespace operations such as register, update, and describe as well as workflow operations like start workflow, show workflow history, and signal workflow.

Using the CLI#

The Temporal CLI can be used directly from the Docker Hub image or by building the CLI tool locally.

You can also install it using Homebrew:

brew install tctl

Example of using the docker image to describe a namespace:

docker run --rm temporalio/tctl:1.8.0 --namespace samples-namespace namespace describe

On Docker versions 18.03 and later, you may get a "connection refused" error. You can work around this by setting the host to "host.docker.internal" (see here for more info).

docker run --network=host --rm temporalio/tctl:1.8.0 --namespace samples-namespace namespace describe

To build the CLI tool locally, clone the Temporal server repo and run make bins. This produces an executable called tctl. With a local build, the same command to describe a namespace would look like this:

./tctl --namespace samples-namespace namespace describe

The example commands below will use ./tctl for brevity.

Environment variables#

Setting environment variables for repeated parameters can shorten the CLI commands.

  • TEMPORAL_CLI_ADDRESS - host and port for Temporal frontend service (default:
  • TEMPORAL_CLI_NAMESPACE - workflow namespace, so you don't need to specify --namespace (default namespace: default)
  • TEMPORAL_CLI_TLS_CA - path to server Certificate Authority certificate file
  • TEMPORAL_CLI_TLS_CERT - path to public x509 certificate file for mutual TLS authentication
  • TEMPORAL_CLI_TLS_KEY - path to private key file for mutual TLS authentication

Quick Start#

  • Run ./tctl -h for help on top level commands and global options
  • Run ./tctl namespace -h for help on namespace operations
  • Run ./tctl workflow -h for help on workflow operations
  • Run ./tctl taskqueue -h for help on task queue operations

Note: make sure you have a Temporal server running before using CLI

Namespace operation examples#

  • Register a new namespace named "samples-namespace":
./tctl --namespace samples-namespace namespace register
# OR using short alias
./tctl --ns samples-namespace n re
  • View "samples-namespace" details:
./tctl --namespace samples-namespace namespace describe

Workflow operation examples#

The following examples assume the TEMPORAL_CLI_NAMESPACE environment variable is set.

Run Workflow#

Start a Workflow and see its progress. This command doesn't finish until Workflow completes.

./tctl workflow run --tq hello-world --wt Workflow --et 60 -i '"temporal"'
# view help messages for workflow run
./tctl workflow run -h

Brief explanation: To run a Workflow, the user must specify the following:

  1. Task queue name (--tq)
  2. Workflow type (--wt)
  3. Execution start to close timeout in seconds (--et)
  4. Input in JSON format (--i) (optional)

The example above uses this sample Workflow and takes a string as input with the -i '"temporal"' parameter. Single quotes ('') are used to wrap input as JSON.

Note: You need to start the worker so that the Workflow can make progress. (Run make && ./bin/helloworld -m worker in temporal-go-samples to start the worker)

Show running Workers of a Task Queue#

./tctl taskqueue desc --tq hello-world

Start Workflow#

./tctl workflow start --tq hello-world --wt Workflow --et 60 -i '"temporal"'
# view help messages for workflow start
./tctl workflow start -h
# for a workflow with multiple inputs, provide a separate -i flag for each of them
./tctl workflow start --tq hello-world --wt WorkflowWith3Args --et 60 -i '"your_input_string"' -i 'null' -i '{"Name":"my-string", "Age":12345}'

The Workflow start command is similar to the run command, but immediately returns the workflow_id and run_id after starting the Workflow. Use the show command to view the Workflow's history/progress.

Reuse the same Workflow Id when starting/running a Workflow#

Use option --workflowidreusepolicy or --wrp to configure the Workflow id reuse policy. There are three:

  • AllowDuplicateFailedOnly: Allow starting a Workflow execution using the same Workflow Id when a Workflow with the same Workflow Id is not already running and the last execution close state is one of [terminated, cancelled, timedout, failed].
  • AllowDuplicate: Allow starting a Workflow execution using the same Workflow Id when a Workflow with the same Workflow Id is not already running.
  • RejectDuplicate: Do not allow starting a Workflow execution using the same Workflow Id as a previous Workflow.
# use AllowDuplicateFailedOnly option to start a Workflow
./tctl workflow start --tq hello-world --wt Workflow --et 60 -i '"temporal"' --wid "<duplicated workflow id>" --wrp AllowDuplicateFailedOnly
# use AllowDuplicate option to run a workflow
./tctl workflow run --tq hello-world --wt Workflow --et 60 -i '"temporal"' --wid "<duplicated workflow id>" --wrp AllowDuplicate

You may also set this inside your workflow code with WorkflowOptions.WorkflowIdReusePolicy.

Start a Workflow with a memo#

Memos are immutable key/value pairs that can be attached to a workflow run when starting the workflow. These are visible when listing workflows. More information on memos can be found here.

tctl workflow start \
-tq hello-world \
-wt Workflow \
-et 60 \
-i '"temporal"' \
-memo_key '"Service" "Env" "Instance"' \
-memo '"serverName1" "test" 5'

Show Workflow history#

./tctl workflow show \
-w 3ea6b242-b23c-4279-bb13-f215661b4717 \
-r 866ae14c-88cf-4f1e-980f-571e031d71b0

Shortcut without -w and -r flag:

./tctl workflow showid 3ea6b242-b23c-4279-bb13-f215661b4717 866ae14c-88cf-4f1e-980f-571e031d71b0

If the run_id is not provided, the latest run history for the workflow_id:

./tctl workflow show \
-w 3ea6b242-b23c-4279-bb13-f215661b4717


./tctl workflow showid 3ea6b242-b23c-4279-bb13-f215661b4717

Show Workflow execution information#

./tctl workflow describe -w 3ea6b242-b23c-4279-bb13-f215661b4717 -r 866ae14c-88cf-4f1e-980f-571e031d71b0
# a shortcut of this is (without -w -r flag)
./tctl workflow describeid 3ea6b242-b23c-4279-bb13-f215661b4717 866ae14c-88cf-4f1e-980f-571e031d71b0
# if run_id is not provided, it will show the latest workflow execution of that workflow_id
./tctl workflow describe -w 3ea6b242-b23c-4279-bb13-f215661b4717
# a shortcut of this is
./tctl workflow describeid 3ea6b242-b23c-4279-bb13-f215661b4717

Query Workflow execution#

# use custom query type
./tctl workflow query -w <wid> -r <rid> --qt <query-type>
# use build-in query type "__stack_trace" which is supported by Temporal SDK
./tctl workflow query -w <wid> -r <rid> --qt __stack_trace
# a shortcut to query using __stack_trace is (without --qt flag)
./tctl workflow stack -w <wid> -r <rid>

Signal, cancel, terminate Workflow#

# signal
./tctl workflow signal -w <wid> -r <rid> -n <signal-name> -i '"signal-value"'
# cancel
./tctl workflow cancel -w <wid> -r <rid>
# terminate
./tctl workflow terminate -w <wid> -r <rid> --reason

Terminating a running Workflow execution will record a WorkflowExecutionTerminated event as the closing event in the history. No more command tasks will be scheduled for a terminated workflow execution. Canceling a running workflow execution will record a WorkflowExecutionCancelRequested event in the history, and a new command task will be scheduled. The workflow has a chance to do some clean up work after cancellation.

Signal, cancel, terminate workflows as a batch job#

Batch job is based on List Workflow Query(--query). It supports signal, cancel and terminate as batch job type. For terminating workflows as batch job, it will terminate the children recursively.

Start a batch job(using signal as batch type):

tctl --ns samples-namespace batch start --query "WorkflowType='main.SampleParentWorkflow' AND CloseTime=missing" --reason "test" --bt signal --sig testname
This batch job will be operating on 5 workflows.
Please confirm[Yes/No]:yes
"jobId": "<batch-job-id>",
"msg": "batch job is started"

You need to remember the JobId or use List command to get all your batch jobs:

tctl --ns samples-namespace batch list

Describe the progress of a batch job:

tctl --ns samples-namespace batch desc -jid <batch-job-id>

Terminate a batch job:

tctl --ns samples-namespace batch terminate -jid <batch-job-id>

Note that the operation performed by a batch will not be rolled back by terminating the batch. However, you can use reset to rollback your workflows.

Restart, reset Workflow#

The Reset command allows resetting a workflow to a particular point and continue running from there. There are a lot of use cases:

  • Rerun a failed workflow from the beginning with the same start parameters.
  • Rerun a failed workflow from the failing point without losing the achieved progress(history).
  • After deploying new code, reset an open workflow to let the workflow run to different flows.

You can reset to some predefined event types:

./tctl workflow reset -w <wid> -r <rid> --reset_type <reset_type> --reason "some_reason"
  • FirstWorkflowTask: reset to the beginning of the history.
  • LastWorkflowTask: reset to the end of the history.
  • LastContinuedAsNew: reset to the end of the history for the previous run.
  • BadBinary: reset to the point where a bad binary was used.

If you are familiar with the Temporal history event, You can also reset to any command finish event by using:

./tctl workflow reset -w <wid> -r <rid> --event_id <decision_finish_event_id> --reason "some_reason"

Some things to note:

  • When reset, a new run will be kicked off with the same workflowId. But if there is a running execution for the workflow(workflowId), the current run will be terminated.
  • decision_finish_event_id is the Id of events of the type: DecisionTaskComplete/DecisionTaskFailed/DecisionTaskTimeout.
  • To restart a workflow from the beginning, reset to the first command task finish event.

To reset multiple workflows, you can use batch reset command:

./tctl workflow reset-batch --input_file <file_of_workflows_to_reset> --reset_type <reset_type> --reason "some_reason"

Recovery from bad deployment -- auto-reset workflow#

If a bad deployment lets a workflow run into a wrong state, you might want to reset the workflow to the point that the bad deployment started to run. But usually it is not easy to find out all the workflows impacted, and every reset point for each workflow. In this case, auto-reset will automatically reset all the workflows given a bad deployment identifier.

Let's get familiar with some concepts. Each deployment will have an identifier, we call it "Binary Checksum" as it is usually generated by the md5sum of a binary file. For a workflow, each binary checksum will be associated with an auto-reset point, which contains a runId, an eventID, and the created_time that binary/deployment made the first command for the workflow.

To find out which binary checksum of the bad deployment to reset, you should be aware of at least one workflow running into a bad state. Use the describe command with --reset_points_only option to show all the reset points:

./tctl workflow desc -w <WorkflowId> --reset_points_only
| c84c5afa552613a83294793f4e664a7f | 2019-05-24 10:01:00.398455019 | 2dd29ab7-2dd8-4668-83e0-89cae261cfb1 | 4 |
| aae748fdc557a3f873adbe1dd066713f | 2019-05-24 11:01:00.067691445 | d42d21b8-2adb-4313-b069-3837d44d6ce6 | 4 |

Then use this command to tell Temporal to auto-reset all Workflows impacted by the bad deployment. The command will store the bad binary checksum into namespace info and trigger a process to reset all your workflows.

./tctl --ns <YourNamespace> namespace update --add_bad_binary aae748fdc557a3f873adbe1dd066713f --reason "rollback bad deployment"

As you add the bad binary checksum to your namespace, Temporal will not dispatch any command tasks to the bad binary. So make sure that you have rolled back to a good deployment(or roll out new bits with bug fixes). Otherwise your workflow can't make any progress after auto-reset.

Secure connection to Temporal cluster#

tctl supports optional Transport Level Security (TLS) for secure communication with Temporal, authentication of the server, and authentication of the client (mutual TLS).

--tls_ca_path=<certificate file path> command line argument that passes a certificate authority (CA) certificate for the validating server that tctl is connecting to.

--tls_cert_path=<certificate file path> command line argument that passes a client certificate for the server to validate the client (tctl) identity. Requires that --tls_key_path is also provided.

--tls_key_path=<private key file path> command line argument that passes a private key associated with the client certificate supplied with the --tls_cert_path setting.

--tls_enable_host_verification=[true|false] command line argument that enables verification of the server certificate, i.e. host verification.

--tls_server_name=<server name> command line argument that passes an override value for the target server that is used for TLS host verification. It also enables host verification. The value must be one of the DNS names listed in the server TLS certificate.

TLS command line arguments can be provided via their respective environment variables to shorten the command line.

Search Workflows#

List closed or open workflow executions#

tctl workflow list

By default only one page is shown. To view more items, use the --more flag.

tctl workflow list --more

Use the --query flag to list Workflows using an SQL-like query:

tctl workflow list \
--query "WorkflowType='main.SampleParentWorkflow' AND CloseTime = missing"

This will return all open Workflows with workflowType as main.SampleParentWorkflow.

List search attributes#

You can query the list of search attributes with the following command:

tctl cluster get-search-attr

Here is some example output:

| Status | INT |
| CloseTime | INT |
| CustomBoolField | DOUBLE |
| CustomDatetimeField | DATETIME |
| CustomNamespace | KEYWORD |
| CustomDoubleField | BOOL |
| CustomIntField | INT |
| CustomKeywordField | KEYWORD |
| CustomStringField | STRING |
| NamespaceId | KEYWORD |
| ExecutionTime | INT |
| HistoryLength | INT |
| RunId | KEYWORD |
| StartTime | INT |
| WorkflowId | KEYWORD |
| WorkflowType | KEYWORD |

Add new search attributes#

Here is how you add a new search attribute:

tctl admin cluster add_search_attr \
--search_attr_key <NewKey> \
--search_attr_type string

The possible values for --search_attr_type are:

  • string
  • keyword
  • int
  • double
  • bool
  • datetime

Start Workflow with Search Attributes#

tctl workflow start \
--taskqueue helloWorldGroup \
--workflow_type main.Workflow \
--execution_timeout 60 \
--input '"john"' \
--search_attr_key 'CustomIntField | CustomKeywordField | CustomStringField | CustomBoolField | CustomDatetimeField' \
--search_attr_value '5 | keyword1 | john test | true | 2019-06-07T16:16:36-08:00'

Search Workflows with List API#

tctl workflow list \
--query '(CustomKeywordField = "keyword1" and CustomIntField >= 5) or CustomKeywordField = "keyword2"' \
tctl workflow list \
--query 'CustomKeywordField in ("keyword2", "keyword1") and CustomIntField >= 5 and CloseTime between "2018-06-07T16:16:36-08:00" and "2019-06-07T16:46:34-08:00" order by CustomDatetimeField desc' \

To list only open Workflows, add CloseTime = missing to the end of the query.

Note that queries can support more than one type of filter:

tctl workflow list \
--query 'WorkflowType = "main.Workflow" and (WorkflowId = "1645a588-4772-4dab-b276-5f9db108b3a8" or RunId = "be66519b-5f09-40cd-b2e8-20e4106244dc")'
tctl workflow list \
--query 'WorkflowType = "main.Workflow" StartTime > "2019-06-07T16:46:34-08:00" and CloseTime = missing'