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# Workflow state

Sometimes you need to save state in one invocation of a workflow and read it the next time your workflow runs. For example, you might need to keep track of the last ID of the item you processed, or the last timestamp you ran a job, so you can pull new data the next time.

On Pipedream, you can save and read state in two ways:

  • On a workflow-level, using $checkpoint
  • On a step-level, using this.$checkpoint

If you need to manage state across workflows, we recommend you use a database or key-value store.

# Workflow-level state: $checkpoint

The $checkpoint variable allows you to store and access any data within a specific workflow. You can store any JSON-serializable (opens new window) data in $checkpoint, like so:

$checkpoint = {
  lastExecutionTime: "2019-10-06T20:07:39.293Z",
  lastObjectProcessed: {
    id: 123,

You don't need to store data in an object. Numbers, strings, and other JavaScript native types are JSON-serializable, as well. If you just need to keep track of a single ID in $checkpoint, store its value directly in $checkpoint:

$checkpoint = 1;

This will store the number 1, as a Number. To store IDs as a strings, set the value to a string:

$checkpoint = "1";

You can read data previously saved in $checkpoint like so:

const checkpoint = $checkpoint ?? "default value"

# Workflow state and concurrency

If two events trigger your workflow at the same time, they'll run the workflow in parallel. If you're using $checkpoint, the last event to finish will write its value to workflow state, overwriting the data saved by the first event. This is called a race condition (opens new window), and it'll cause bugs in your workflow that can be difficult to troubleshoot.

When you're saving data to $checkpoint, you'll typically want to serialize your workflow's execution, running one event at at time. This ensures each execution of your workflow writes its data to $checkpoint before the next event is invoked.

# Example workflow: use $checkpoint to increment a number

Often, you'll want to track the count of events a workflow processes, or keep track of some incrementing ID that you can pass to other systems as a unique identifier for an event.

This workflow (opens new window) stores an ID in $checkpoint, incrementing the ID each time the workflow is run. The first time the workflow runs, the value of $checkpoint will be undefined, so the workflow initializes the ID to a value of 1 on the first run. Subsequent runs of the workflow continue to increment the value of $checkpoint, saving the new value back to $checkpoint for the next invocation:

// Immediately read the current value of $checkpoint and increment it
// If this is the first time you're running the workflow, $checkpoint
// will be undefined, so we initialize the value to 1.
const checkpoint = $checkpoint + 1 || 1;

// Write the new value of checkpoint back to $checkpoint for the next workflow run
$checkpoint = checkpoint;

# Example workflow - dedupe incoming data

$checkpoint is frequently used to dedupe incoming data. For example, you might receive events via webhooks and encounter duplicate HTTP requests (tied to the same user taking the same action in the source system). You need a way to make sure you don't process the same request twice.

This workflow (opens new window) shows you how this works. It keeps track of emails seen so far, retrieved from event.body.email in the incoming HTTP request (here, the email address is a unique identifier we're using to dedupe requests, but you can use any identifier). If we've seen a particular email address before, we exit early:

const get = require("lodash.get");
const includes = require("lodash.includes");
const MAX_LENGTH = 10000;

// Retrieve emails stored in $checkpoint
const emails = get($checkpoint, "emails", []);

// and grab the key to dedupe in, from the event body
const { email } = event.body;

if (includes(emails, email)) {
  $end("Email already seen. Exiting early");

Otherwise, we store the new email address in $checkpoint.emails and move on:

// Store new emails back in $checkpoint
$checkpoint = {

Note that this workflow also includes code to trim the array of emails we've stored in $checkpoint.emails, ensuring we only store the last 10,000 emails seen. This ensures we keep $checkpoint under the size limits.

# Errors you might encounter

$checkpoint holds a value of undefined when you first create a workflow. If you try to run code like this:

$checkpoint.test = "value";

you'll encounter an error — TypeError: Cannot set property 'test' of undefined — because you cannot set a property on an undefined value.

This means you'll need to initialize $checkpoint before you can use it, and handle the case where $checkpoint is undefined in your code.

# Other Notes

$checkpoint is a global variable, accessible in any code or action step.

$checkpoint is scoped to a workflow. Any data you save in $checkpoint is specific to that workflow. Saving data to $checkpoint in one workflow will not affect the data saved in $checkpoint in another.

# Step-level state

Often, a specific step needs to maintain state that isn't relevant for the rest of the workflow. If you're writing a code step that pulls tweets from Twitter, and want to keep track of the last tweet ID you processed, you can store that state within a step, instead of using the global $checkpoint variable. This can make state easier to manage, and introduce fewer bugs.

Pipedream provides two ways to manage step-level state in workflows:

# Workflow code steps - this.$checkpoint

Use this.$checkpoint in Node.js code steps

Within a step, you can store any JSON-serializable (opens new window) data in this.$checkpoint:

this.$checkpoint = {
  lastExecutionTime: "2019-10-06T20:07:39.293Z",
  lastObjectProcessed: {
    id: 123,

this.$checkpoint is scoped to a step, and $checkpoint is scoped to a workflow. But their programming API is equivalent: they both start out with values of undefined, they both store JSON-serializable data, etc.

# $.service.db

Components like sources and actions manage state using the $.service.db prop.

# Resetting or changing the value of $checkpoint

If you'd like to remove all of the data for $checkpoint or a step-specific $checkpoint variable, or set $checkpoint to a specific value, you can do so through the UI, or using a Node.js code step.

# Resetting or changing $checkpoint from the UI

To reset the value of $checkpoint, visit your workflow's Settings, find your Current checkpoint data and press the Clear button next to the variable whose data you'd like to clear:

Clear $checkpoint data

This will set the value of $checkpoint to undefined.

You can also add any JSON-serializable data to the $checkpoint editor, modifying or overwriting its current value.

# Resetting or changing $checkpoint from code

To reset the value of $checkpoint, add a new Node.js code step to your workflow, just below the trigger step. Then add the following code to that step:

$checkpoint = false;
$end("Clearing $checkpoint");

This will set the value of $checkpoint to false, and then immediately end your workflow.

You can also set $checkpoint to any JSON-serializable value:

$checkpoint = { test: "data" };
$end("Initializing $checkpoint");

# Limits

You can store up to 64KB of data in both $checkpoint and step-specific this.$checkpoint state.

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