Getting started with AWS Step Functions - AWS Step Functions

Getting started with AWS Step Functions

Step Functions is a serverless orchestration service that lets you define an application workflow as a series of event-driven steps. Each step in the workflow is called a state. You most commonly use states, such as Task state, Choice, Parallel, and Map, to define your workflows. Within Task states, you can use the AWS SDK integrations that Step Functions supports and orchestrate multiple AWS services in your workflows.

Key concepts

Before you start the tutorials, review the following key Step Functions terms for context.

Term Description
Workflow A sequence of steps that often reflect a business process.

Individual steps in your state machine that can make decisions based on their input, perform actions from those inputs, and pass output to other states.

For more information, see States.

Workflow Studio

A visual workflow designer that helps you to prototype and build workflows faster.

For more information, see AWS Step Functions Workflow Studio.

State machine

A workflow defined using JSON text representing the individual states or steps in the workflow along with fields, such as StartAt, TimeoutSeconds, and Version.

For more information, see State machine structure.

Amazon States Language

A JSON-based, structured language used to define your state machines. With ASL, you define a collection of states that can do work (Task state), determine which states to transition to next (Choice state), and stop an execution with an error (Fail state).

For more information, see Amazon States Language.

Input and output configuration

States in a workflow receive JSON data as input and usually pass JSON data as output to the next state. Step Functions provides filters to control the data flow between states.

For more information, see Input and Output Processing in Step Functions.

Service integration

You can call AWS service API actions from your workflow.

For more information, see Using AWS Step Functions with other services.

Service integration type
  • AWS SDK integrations – Standard way to call any of over two hundred AWS services and over nine thousand API actions directly from your state machine.

  • Optimized integrations – Custom integrations that streamline calling and exchanging data with certain services. For example, Lambda Invoke will automatically convert the Payload field of the response from an escaped JSON string into a JSON object.

Service integration pattern

When calling an AWS service, you use one of the following service integration patterns:


State machine executions are instances where you run your workflow to perform tasks.

For more information, see Executions in Step Functions.

Tutorials in this series

After completing these tutorials, you'll have a workflow that simulates processing a credit card application. You'll learn how to use common states and integrate your workflow with other AWS services

Step Functions can be used to create many types of workflows, such as data processing, IT automation, machine learning, and media encoding.

The following flowchart depicts steps for a business to process a credit card application. If the amount of requested credit is under $5000, the credit limit will be automatically approved. If the request exceeds the limit, the workflow will add a human in the loop to verify the requestors identity and review credit scores.

A workflow representing the steps of a credit card application process.

The following diagram shows how the credit application business process steps are represented by states in a Step Functions workflow.

A credit card application process represented as a Step Functions workflow.

In the following series of tutorials, you will build the credit card processing workflow.

We recommend completing these tutorials in order to learn the key features of Step Functions.

A roadmap of the tutorials in this Getting Started tutorials series.

Before you get started, make sure to complete the prerequisites.