AWS Step Functions
Developer Guide

Creating a Lambda State Machine

In this tutorial you'll create an AWS Step Functions state machine that uses a AWS Lambda function to implement a Task state. A Task state performs a single unit of work.

Lambda is well-suited for implementing Task states, because Lambda functions are stateless (they have a predictable input-output relationship), easy to write, and don't require deploying code to a server instance. You can write code in the AWS Management Console or your favorite editor, and AWS handles the details of providing a computing environment for your function and running it.

Step 1: Creating an IAM Role for Lambda

Both Lambda and Step Functions can execute code and access AWS resources (for example, data stored in Amazon S3 buckets). To maintain security, you must grant Lambda and Step Functions access to these resources.

Lambda requires you to assign an IAM role when you create a Lambda function in the same way Step Functions requires you to assign an IAM role when you create a state machine.

To create a role for Lambda

You can use the IAM console to create a service-linked role.

To create a role (console)

  1. Sign in to the AWS Management Console and open the IAM console at

  2. In the navigation pane of the IAM console, choose Roles. Then choose Create role.

  3. Choose the AWS Service role type, and then choose Lambda.

  4. Choose the Lambda use case. Use cases are defined by the service to include the trust policy required by the service. Then choose Next: Permissions.

  5. Choose one or more permissions policies to attach to the role (for instance, AWSLambdaBasicExecutionRole). See AWS Lambda Permissions Model.

    Select the box next to the policy that assigns the permissions that you want the role to have, and then choose Next: Review.

  6. Enter a Role name.

  7. (Optional) For Role description, edit the description for the new service-linked role.

  8. Review the role and then choose Create role.

Step 2: Creating a Lambda Function

Your Lambda function receives input (a name) and returns a greeting that includes the input value.

To create the Lambda function


Ensure that your Lambda function is under the same AWS account and region as your state machine.

  1. Log in to the Lambda console and choose Create a function.

  2. In the Blueprints section, choose Author from scratch.

  3. In the Basic information section, configure your Lambda function:

    1. For Name, type HelloFunction.

    2. For Role, select Choose an existing role.

    3. For Existing role, select the Lambda role that you created earlier.


      If the IAM role that you created doesn't appear in the list, the role might still need a few minutes to propagate to Lambda.

    4. Choose Create function.

      When your Lambda function is created, note its Amazon Resource Name (ARN) in the upper-right corner of the page. For example:

  4. Copy the following code for the Lambda function into the Function code section of the HelloFunction page:

    exports.handler = (event, context, callback) => { callback(null, "Hello, " + event.who + "!"); };

    This code assembles a greeting using the who field of the input data, which is provided by the event object passed into your function. You will add input data for this function later, when you start a new execution. The callback method returns the assembled greeting from your function.

  5. Choose Save.

Step 3: Testing the Lambda Function

Test your Lambda function to see it in operation.

To test your Lambda function

  1. On the Select a test event drop-down, choose Configure test event and type HelloFunction for Event name.

  2. Replace the example data with the following:

    { "who": "AWS Step Functions" }

    The "who" entry corresponds to the event.who field in your Lambda function, completing the greeting. You will use the same input data when running the function as a Step Functions task.

  3. Choose Create.

  4. On the HelloFunction page, Test your Lambda function using the new data.

    The results of the test are displayed at the top of the page. Expand Details to see the output.

Step 4: Creating a State Machine

Use the Step Functions console to create a state machine with a Task state. Add a reference to your Lambda function in the Task state. The Lambda function is invoked when an execution of the state machine reaches the Task state.

To create the state machine

  1. Log in to the Step Functions console and choose Create a state machine.

  2. On the Define state machine page, select Author with code snippets and enter a Name for your state machine, for example LambdaStateMachine.


    State machine, execution, and activity names must be 1–80 characters in length, must be unique for your account and region, and must not contain any of the following:

    • Whitespace

    • Wildcard characters (? *)

    • Bracket characters (< > { } [ ])

    • Special characters (: ; , \ | ^ ~ $ # % & ` ")

    • Control characters (\\u0000 - \\u001f or \\u007f - \\u009f).

    Step Functions allows you to create state machine, execution, and activity names that contain non-ASCII characters. These non-ASCII names don't work with Amazon CloudWatch. To ensure that you can track CloudWatch metrics, choose a name that uses only ASCII characters.

  3. In the State machine definition pane, add the following state machine definition using the ARN of the Lambda function that you created earlier, for example:

    { "Comment": "A Hello World example of the Amazon States Language using an AWS Lambda function", "StartAt": "HelloWorld", "States": { "HelloWorld": { "Type": "Task", "Resource": "arn:aws:lambda:us-east-1:123456789012:function:HelloFunction", "End": true } } }

    This is a description of your state machine using the Amazon States Language. It defines a single Task state named HelloWorld. For more information, see State Machine Structure.


    You can also set up a Retry for Task states. As a best practice, ensure production code can handle Lambda service exceptions (Lambda.ServiceException and Lambda.SdkclientException). For more information see:

    Choose Next.

  4. Create or enter an IAM role.

    • To create a new IAM role for Step Functions, select Create an IAM role for me, and enter a Name for your role.

    • If you have previously created an IAM role with the correct permissions for your state machine, select Choose an existing IAM role. Select a role from the drop-down, or provide an ARN for that role.


    If you delete the IAM role that Step Functions creates, Step Functions can't recreate it later. Similarly, if you modify the role (for example, by removing Step Functions from the principals in the IAM policy), Step Functions can't restore its original settings later.

  5. Select Next.

Step 5: Starting a New Execution

After you create your state machine, you can start an execution.

To start a new execution

  1. On the LambdaStateMachine page, choose Start execution.

    The New execution page is displayed.

  2. (Optional) To help identify your execution, you can specify an ID for it in the Enter an execution name box. If you don't enter an ID, Step Functions generates a unique ID automatically.


    Step Functions allows you to create state machine, execution, and activity names that contain non-ASCII characters. These non-ASCII names don't work with Amazon CloudWatch. To ensure that you can track CloudWatch metrics, choose a name that uses only ASCII characters.

  3. In the execution input area, replace the example data with the following:

    { "who" : "AWS Step Functions" }

    "who" is the key name that your Lambda function uses to get the name of the person to greet.

  4. Choose Start Execution.

    A new execution of your state machine starts, and a new page showing your running execution is displayed.

  5. To view the results of your execution, expand the Output section under Execution details.