AWS Step Functions
Developer Guide

Deploy an Example Human Approval Project

This tutorial shows you how to deploy a human approval project that allows an AWS Step Functions execution to pause during a task, and wait for a user to respond to an email. The workflow progresses to the next state once the user has approved the task to proceed.

Deploying the AWS CloudFormation stack included in this tutorial will create all necessary resources, including:

  • Amazon API Gateway resources

  • An AWS Lambda functions

  • An AWS Step Functions state machine

  • An Amazon Simple Notification Service email topic

  • Related AWS Identity and Access Management roles and permissions


You will need to provide a valid email address that you have access to when you create the AWS CloudFormation stack.

For more information, see Working with CloudFormation Templates and the AWS::StepFunctions::StateMachine resource in the AWS CloudFormation User Guide.

Step 1: Create an AWS CloudFormation Template

  1. Copy the example code from the AWS CloudFormation Template Source Code section.

  2. Paste the source of the AWS CloudFormation template into a file on your local machine.

    For this example the file is called human-approval.yaml.

Step 2: Create a Stack

  1. Log into the AWS CloudFormation console.

  2. Choose Create Stack.

  3. Under Choose a template, select Upload a template to Amazon S3 and then Choose File.

  4. Browse to the human-approval.yaml file you created earlier that includes the template source code.

  5. Choose Open and then Next.

  6. Under Specify Details enter a Stack name.

  7. Under Parameters enter a valid Email address and choose Next.

  8. On the Options page, scroll down and choose Next.

  9. On the Review page, choose I acknowledge that AWS CloudFormation might create IAM resources and then choose Create.

    AWS CloudFormation begins to create your stack and displays the CREATE_IN_PROGRESS status. When the process is complete, AWS CloudFormation displays the CREATE_COMPLETE status.

  10. (Optional) To display the resources in your stack, select the stack and choose the Resources tab.

            Display resources

Step 3: Approve the Amazon Simple Notification Service Subscription

Once the Amazon SNS topic is created, you will receive an email requesting that you confirm subscription.

  1. Open the email account you provided when you created the AWS CloudFormation stack.

  2. Open the message AWS Notification - Subscription Confirmation from

    The email will list the Amazon Resource Name for the Amazon SNS topic, and a confirmation link.

  3. Choose the confirm subscription link.

            Subscription confirmed!

Step 4: Run an Execution

  1. Log into the Step Functions console.

  2. On the State machines page, choose HumanApprovalLambdaStateMachine.

  3. Choose Start execution.

  4. Enter a name for your execution, such as ApprovalTest.

  5. (Optional) enters some input for the execution.

    { "Comment": "Testing the human approval tutorial." }
  6. Choose Start execution.

    The ApprovalTest execution starts, and pauses at the Lambda Callback task.

            Execution waiting for callback
  7. In the email account you used for the Amazon SNS topic earlier, open the message with the subject Required approval from AWS Step Functions.

    The message includes separate URLs for Approve and Reject.

  8. Choose the Approve URL.

    The workflow continues based on your choice.

            Execution waiting for callback

AWS CloudFormation Template Source Code

Use this AWS CloudFormation template to deploy an example of a human approval process workflow.

AWSTemplateFormatVersion: "2010-09-09" Description: "AWS Step Functions Human based task example. It sends an email with an HTTP URL for approval." Parameters: Email: Type: String AllowedPattern: "^[a-zA-Z0-9_.+-]+@[a-zA-Z0-9-]+\\.[a-zA-Z0-9-.]+$" ConstraintDescription: Must be a valid email address. Resources: # Begin API Gateway Resources ExecutionApi: Type: "AWS::ApiGateway::RestApi" Properties: Name: "Human approval endpoint" Description: "HTTP Endpoint backed by API Gateway and Lambda" FailOnWarnings: true ExecutionResource: Type: 'AWS::ApiGateway::Resource' Properties: RestApiId: !Ref ExecutionApi ParentId: !GetAtt "ExecutionApi.RootResourceId" PathPart: execution ExecutionMethod: Type: "AWS::ApiGateway::Method" Properties: AuthorizationType: NONE HttpMethod: GET Integration: Type: AWS IntegrationHttpMethod: POST Uri: !Sub "arn:aws:apigateway:${AWS::Region}:lambda:path/2015-03-31/functions/${LambdaApprovalFunction.Arn}/invocations" IntegrationResponses: - StatusCode: 302 ResponseParameters: method.response.header.Location: "integration.response.body.headers.Location" RequestTemplates: application/json: | { "body" : $input.json('$'), "headers": { #foreach($header in $input.params().header.keySet()) "$header": "$util.escapeJavaScript($input.params().header.get($header))" #if($foreach.hasNext),#end #end }, "method": "$context.httpMethod", "params": { #foreach($param in $input.params().path.keySet()) "$param": "$util.escapeJavaScript($input.params().path.get($param))" #if($foreach.hasNext),#end #end }, "query": { #foreach($queryParam in $input.params().querystring.keySet()) "$queryParam": "$util.escapeJavaScript($input.params().querystring.get($queryParam))" #if($foreach.hasNext),#end #end } } ResourceId: !Ref ExecutionResource RestApiId: !Ref ExecutionApi MethodResponses: - StatusCode: 302 ResponseParameters: method.response.header.Location: true ApiGatewayAccount: Type: 'AWS::ApiGateway::Account' Properties: CloudWatchRoleArn: !GetAtt "ApiGatewayCloudWatchLogsRole.Arn" ApiGatewayCloudWatchLogsRole: Type: 'AWS::IAM::Role' Properties: AssumeRolePolicyDocument: Version: "2012-10-17" Statement: - Effect: Allow Principal: Service: - Action: - 'sts:AssumeRole' Policies: - PolicyName: ApiGatewayLogsPolicy PolicyDocument: Version: 2012-10-17 Statement: - Effect: Allow Action: - "logs:*" Resource: !Sub "arn:${AWS::Partition}:logs:*:*:*" ExecutionApiStage: DependsOn: - ApiGatewayAccount Type: 'AWS::ApiGateway::Stage' Properties: DeploymentId: !Ref ApiDeployment MethodSettings: - DataTraceEnabled: true HttpMethod: '*' LoggingLevel: INFO ResourcePath: /* RestApiId: !Ref ExecutionApi StageName: states ApiDeployment: Type: "AWS::ApiGateway::Deployment" DependsOn: - ExecutionMethod Properties: RestApiId: !Ref ExecutionApi StageName: DummyStage # End API Gateway Resources # Begin # Lambda that will be invoked by API Gateway LambdaApprovalFunction: Type: 'AWS::Lambda::Function' Properties: Code: ZipFile: Fn::Sub: | const AWS = require('aws-sdk'); var redirectToStepFunctions = function(lambdaArn, statemachineName, executionName, callback) { const lambdaArnTokens = lambdaArn.split(":"); const partition = lambdaArnTokens[1]; const region = lambdaArnTokens[3]; const accountId = lambdaArnTokens[4]; console.log("partition=" + partition); console.log("region=" + region); console.log("accountId=" + accountId); const executionArn = "arn:" + partition + ":states:" + region + ":" + accountId + ":execution:" + statemachineName + ":" + executionName; console.log("executionArn=" + executionArn); const url = "" + region + "#/executions/details/" + executionArn; callback(null, { statusCode: 302, headers: { Location: url } }); }; exports.handler = (event, context, callback) => { console.log('Event= ' + JSON.stringify(event)); const action = event.query.action; const taskToken = event.query.taskToken; const statemachineName =; const executionName = event.query.ex; const stepfunctions = new AWS.StepFunctions(); var message = ""; if (action === "approve") { message = { "Status": "Approved! Task approved by ${Email}" }; } else if (action === "reject") { message = { "Status": "Rejected! Task rejected by ${Email}" }; } else { console.error("Unrecognized action. Expected: approve, reject."); callback({"Status": "Failed to process the request. Unrecognized Action."}); } stepfunctions.sendTaskSuccess({ output: JSON.stringify(message), taskToken: event.query.taskToken }) .promise() .then(function(data) { redirectToStepFunctions(context.invokedFunctionArn, statemachineName, executionName, callback); }).catch(function(err) { console.error(err, err.stack); callback(err); }); } Description: Lambda function that callback to AWS Step Functions FunctionName: LambdaApprovalFunction Handler: index.handler Role: !GetAtt "LambdaApiGatewayIAMRole.Arn" Runtime: nodejs8.10 LambdaApiGatewayInvoke: Type: "AWS::Lambda::Permission" Properties: Action: "lambda:InvokeFunction" FunctionName: !GetAtt "LambdaApprovalFunction.Arn" Principal: "" SourceArn: !Sub "arn:aws:execute-api:${AWS::Region}:${AWS::AccountId}:${ExecutionApi}/*" LambdaApiGatewayIAMRole: Type: "AWS::IAM::Role" Properties: AssumeRolePolicyDocument: Version: "2012-10-17" Statement: - Action: - "sts:AssumeRole" Effect: "Allow" Principal: Service: - "" Policies: - PolicyName: CloudWatchLogsPolicy PolicyDocument: Statement: - Effect: Allow Action: - "logs:*" Resource: !Sub "arn:${AWS::Partition}:logs:*:*:*" - PolicyName: StepFunctionsPolicy PolicyDocument: Statement: - Effect: Allow Action: - "states:SendTaskFailure" - "states:SendTaskSuccess" Resource: "*" # End Lambda that will be invoked by API Gateway # Begin state machine that publishes to Lambda and sends an email with the link for approval HumanApprovalLambdaStateMachine: Type: AWS::StepFunctions::StateMachine Properties: RoleArn: !GetAtt LambdaStateMachineExecutionRole.Arn DefinitionString: Fn::Sub: | { "StartAt": "Lambda Callback", "TimeoutSeconds": 3600, "States": { "Lambda Callback": { "Type": "Task", "Resource": "arn:${AWS::Partition}:states:::lambda:invoke.waitForTaskToken", "Parameters": { "FunctionName": "${LambdaHumanApprovalSendEmailFunction.Arn}", "Payload": { "ExecutionContext.$": "$$", "APIGatewayEndpoint": "https://${ExecutionApi}.execute-api.${AWS::Region}" } }, "Next": "ManualApprovalChoiceState" }, "ManualApprovalChoiceState": { "Type": "Choice", "Choices": [ { "Variable": "$.Status", "StringEquals": "Approved! Task approved by ${Email}", "Next": "ApprovedPassState" }, { "Variable": "$.Status", "StringEquals": "Rejected! Task rejected by ${Email}", "Next": "RejectedPassState" } ] }, "ApprovedPassState": { "Type": "Pass", "End": true }, "RejectedPassState": { "Type": "Pass", "End": true } } } SNSHumanApprovalEmailTopic: Type: AWS::SNS::Topic Properties: Subscription: - Endpoint: !Sub ${Email} Protocol: email LambdaHumanApprovalSendEmailFunction: Type: "AWS::Lambda::Function" Properties: Handler: "index.lambda_handler" Role: !GetAtt LambdaSendEmailExecutionRole.Arn Runtime: "nodejs8.10" Timeout: "25" Code: ZipFile: Fn::Sub: | console.log('Loading function'); const AWS = require('aws-sdk'); exports.lambda_handler = (event, context, callback) => { console.log('event= ' + JSON.stringify(event)); console.log('context= ' + JSON.stringify(context)); const executionContext = event.ExecutionContext; console.log('executionContext= ' + executionContext); const executionName = executionContext.Execution.Name; console.log('executionName= ' + executionName); const statemachineName = executionContext.StateMachine.Name; console.log('statemachineName= ' + statemachineName); const taskToken = executionContext.Task.Token; console.log('taskToken= ' + taskToken); const apigwEndpint = event.APIGatewayEndpoint; console.log('apigwEndpint = ' + apigwEndpint) const approveEndpoint = apigwEndpint + "/execution?action=approve&ex=" + executionName + "&sm=" + statemachineName + "&taskToken=" + encodeURIComponent(taskToken); console.log('approveEndpoint= ' + approveEndpoint); const rejectEndpoint = apigwEndpint + "/execution?action=reject&ex=" + executionName + "&sm=" + statemachineName + "&taskToken=" + encodeURIComponent(taskToken); console.log('rejectEndpoint= ' + rejectEndpoint); const emailSnsTopic = "${SNSHumanApprovalEmailTopic}"; console.log('emailSnsTopic= ' + emailSnsTopic); var emailMessage = 'Welcome! \n\n'; emailMessage += 'This is an email requiring an approval for a step functions execution. \n\n' emailMessage += 'Please check the following information and click "Approve" link if you want to approve. \n\n' emailMessage += 'Execution Name -> ' + executionName + '\n\n' emailMessage += 'Approve ' + approveEndpoint + '\n\n' emailMessage += 'Reject ' + rejectEndpoint + '\n\n' emailMessage += 'Thanks for using Step functions!' const sns = new AWS.SNS(); var params = { Message: emailMessage, Subject: "Required approval from AWS Step Functions", TopicArn: emailSnsTopic }; sns.publish(params) .promise() .then(function(data) { console.log("MessageID is " + data.MessageId); callback(null); }).catch( function(err) { console.error(err, err.stack); callback(err); }); } LambdaStateMachineExecutionRole: Type: "AWS::IAM::Role" Properties: AssumeRolePolicyDocument: Version: "2012-10-17" Statement: - Effect: Allow Principal: Service: Action: "sts:AssumeRole" Policies: - PolicyName: InvokeCallbackLambda PolicyDocument: Statement: - Effect: Allow Action: - "lambda:InvokeFunction" Resource: - !Sub "${LambdaHumanApprovalSendEmailFunction.Arn}" LambdaSendEmailExecutionRole: Type: "AWS::IAM::Role" Properties: AssumeRolePolicyDocument: Version: "2012-10-17" Statement: - Effect: Allow Principal: Service: Action: "sts:AssumeRole" Policies: - PolicyName: CloudWatchLogsPolicy PolicyDocument: Statement: - Effect: Allow Action: - "logs:CreateLogGroup" - "logs:CreateLogStream" - "logs:PutLogEvents" Resource: !Sub "arn:${AWS::Partition}:logs:*:*:*" - PolicyName: SNSSendEmailPolicy PolicyDocument: Statement: - Effect: Allow Action: - "SNS:Publish" Resource: - !Sub "${SNSHumanApprovalEmailTopic}" # End state machine that publishes to Lambda and sends an email with the link for approval Outputs: ApiGatewayInvokeURL: Value: !Sub "https://${ExecutionApi}.execute-api.${AWS::Region}" StateMachineHumanApprovalArn: Value: !Ref HumanApprovalLambdaStateMachine