Start Workflow Executions from a Task State - AWS Step Functions

Start Workflow Executions from a Task State

AWS Step Functions can start workflow executions directly from a Task state of a state machine. This allows you to break your workflows into smaller state machines, and to start executions of these other state machines. By starting these new workflow executions you can:

  • Separate higher level workflow from lower level, task-specific workflows.

  • Avoid repetitive elements by calling a separate state machine multiple times.

  • Create a library of modular reusable workflows for faster development.

  • Reduce complexity and make it easier to edit and troubleshoot state machines.

Step Functions can start these workflow executions by calling its own API as an integrated service. Simply call the StartExecution API action from your Task state and pass the necessary parameters. You can call the Step Functions API using any of the service integration patterns.


To deploy an example of a nested workflow to your AWS account, see Module 13 - Nested Express Workflows.

To start a new execution of a state machine, use a Task state similar to the following example:

{ "Type":"Task", "Resource":"arn:aws:states:::states:startExecution", "Parameters":{ "StateMachineArn":"arn:aws:states:us-east-1:123456789012:stateMachine:HelloWorld", "Input":{ "Comment":"Hello world!" }, }, "Retry":[ { "ErrorEquals":[ "StepFunctions.ExecutionLimitExceeded" ] } ], "End":true }

This Task state will start a new execution of the HelloWorld state machine, and will pass the JSON comment as input.


The StartExecution API action quotas can limit the number of executions that you can start. Use the Retry on StepFunctions.ExecutionLimitExceeded to ensure your execution is started. See the following.

Associate Workflow Executions

To associate a started workflow execution with the execution that started it, pass the execution ID from the context object to the execution input. You can access the ID from the context object from your Task state in a running execution. Pass the execution ID by appending .$ to the parameter name, and referencing the ID in the context object with $$.Execution.Id.


You can use a special parameter named AWS_STEP_FUNCTIONS_STARTED_BY_EXECUTION_ID when you start an execution. If included, this association provides links in the Step details section of the Step Functions console. When provided, you can easily trace the executions of your workflows from starting executions to their started workflow executions. Using the previous example, associate the execution ID with the started execution of the HelloWorld state machine, as follows.

{ "Type":"Task", "Resource":"arn:aws:states:::states:startExecution", "Parameters":{ "StateMachineArn":"arn:aws:states:us-east-1:123456789012:stateMachine:HelloWorld", "Input": { "Comment": "Hello world!", "AWS_STEP_FUNCTIONS_STARTED_BY_EXECUTION_ID.$": "$$.Execution.Id" } }, "End":true }

For more information, see the following: