Building Fully Custom Components

This guide describes how to use the TFX API to build a fully custom component. Fully custom components let you build components by defining the component specification, executor, and component interface classes. This approach lets you reuse and extend a standard component to fit your needs.

If you are new to TFX pipelines, learn more about the core concepts of TFX pipelines.

Custom executor or custom component

If only custom processing logic is needed while the inputs, outputs, and execution properties of the component are the same as an existing component, a custom executor is sufficient. A fully custom component is needed when any of the inputs, outputs, or execution properties are different from any existing TFX components.

How to create a custom component?

Developing a fully custom component requires:

  • A defined set of input and output artifact specifications for the new component. Specially, the types for the input artifacts should be consistent with the output artifact types of the components that produce the artifacts and the types for the output artifacts should be consistent with the input artifact types of the components that consume the artifacts if any.
  • The non-artifact execution parameters that are needed for the new component.


The ComponentSpec class defines the component contract by defining the input and output artifacts to a component as well as the parameters that are used for the component execution. It has three parts:

  • INPUTS: A dictionary of typed parameters for the input artifacts that are passed into the component executor. Normally input artifacts are the outputs from upstream components and thus share the same type.
  • OUTPUTS: A dictionary of typed parameters for the output artifacts which the component produces.
  • PARAMETERS: A dictionary of additional ExecutionParameter items that will be passed into the component executor. These are non-artifact parameters that we want to define flexibly in the pipeline DSL and pass into execution.

Here is an example of the ComponentSpec:

class HelloComponentSpec(types.ComponentSpec):
  """ComponentSpec for Custom TFX Hello World Component."""

      # These are parameters that will be passed in the call to
      # create an instance of this component.
      'name': ExecutionParameter(type=Text),
  INPUTS = {
      # This will be a dictionary with input artifacts, including URIs
      'input_data': ChannelParameter(type=standard_artifacts.Examples),
      # This will be a dictionary which this component will populate
      'output_data': ChannelParameter(type=standard_artifacts.Examples),


Next, write the executor code for the new component. Basically, a new subclass of base_executor.BaseExecutor needs to be created with its Do function overriden. In the Do function, the arguments input_dict, output_dict and exec_properties that are passed in map to INPUTS, OUTPUTS and PARAMETERS that are defined in ComponentSpec respectively. For exec_properties, the value can be fetched directly through a dictionary lookup. For artifacts in input_dict and output_dict, there are convenient functions available in artifact_utils class that can be used to fetch artifact instance or artifact uri.

class Executor(base_executor.BaseExecutor):
  """Executor for HelloComponent."""

  def Do(self, input_dict: Dict[Text, List[types.Artifact]],
         output_dict: Dict[Text, List[types.Artifact]],
         exec_properties: Dict[Text, Any]) -> None:

    split_to_instance = {}
    for artifact in input_dict['input_data']:
      for split in json.loads(artifact.split_names):
        uri = artifact_utils.get_split_uri([artifact], split)
        split_to_instance[split] = uri

    for split, instance in split_to_instance.items():
      input_dir = instance
      output_dir = artifact_utils.get_split_uri(
          output_dict['output_data'], split)
      for filename in
        input_uri = os.path.join(input_dir, filename)
        output_uri = os.path.join(output_dir, filename)
        io_utils.copy_file(src=input_uri, dst=output_uri, overwrite=True)

Unit testing a custom executor

Unit tests for the custom executor can be created similar to this one.

Component interface

Now that the most complex part is complete, the next step is to assemble these pieces into a component interface, to enable the component to be used in a pipeline. There are several steps:

  • Make the component interface a subclass of base_component.BaseComponent
  • Assign a class variable SPEC_CLASS with the ComponentSpec class that was defined earlier
  • Assign a class variable EXECUTOR_SPEC with the Executor class that was defined earlier
  • Define the __init__() constructor function by using the arguments to the function to construct an instance of the ComponentSpec class and invoke the super function with that value, along with an optional name

When an instance of the component is created, type checking logic in the base_component.BaseComponent class will be invoked to ensure that the arguments which were passed in are compatible with the type info defined in the ComponentSpec class.

from tfx.types import standard_artifacts
from hello_component import executor

class HelloComponent(base_component.BaseComponent):
  """Custom TFX Hello World Component."""

  SPEC_CLASS = HelloComponentSpec
  EXECUTOR_SPEC = executor_spec.ExecutorClassSpec(executor.Executor)

  def __init__(self,
               input_data: types.Channel = None,
               output_data: types.Channel = None,
               name: Optional[Text] = None):
    if not output_data:
      examples_artifact = standard_artifacts.Examples()
      examples_artifact.split_names = input_data.get()[0].split_names
      output_data = channel_utils.as_channel([examples_artifact])

    spec = HelloComponentSpec(input_data=input_data,
                              output_data=output_data, name=name)
    super(HelloComponent, self).__init__(spec=spec)

Assemble into a TFX pipeline

The last step is to plug the new custom component into a TFX pipeline. Besides adding an instance of the new component, the following are also needed:

  • Properly wire the upstream and downstream components of the new component to it. This is done by referencing the outputs of the upstream component in the new component and referencing the outputs of the new component in downstream components
  • Add the new component instance to the components list when constructing the pipeline.

The example below highlights the aforementioned changes. Full example can be found in the TFX GitHub repo.

def _create_pipeline():
  example_gen = CsvExampleGen(input_base=examples)
  hello = component.HelloComponent(
      input_data=example_gen.outputs['examples'], name='HelloWorld')
  statistics_gen = StatisticsGen(examples=hello.outputs['output_data'])
  return pipeline.Pipeline(
      components=[example_gen, hello, statistics_gen, ...],

Deploy a fully custom component

Beside code changes, all the newly added parts (ComponentSpec, Executor, component interface) need to be accessible in pipeline running environment in order to run the pipeline properly.