Standard vs. Express Workflows - Amazon Step Functions
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Standard vs. Express Workflows

When you create a state machine, you can select a Type of either Standard (default) or Express. In both cases, you define your state machine using the Amazon States Language. Your state machine executions will behave differently, depending on which Type you select. The Type you choose cannot be changed after your state machine has been created.


If you define your state machines outside the Step Functions' console, such as in an editor of your choice, you must save your state machine definitions with the extension .asl.json.

Standard Workflows are ideal for long-running, durable, and auditable workflows. They can run for up to a year and you can retrieve the full execution history using the Step Functions API, up to 90 days after your execution completes. Standard Workflows employ an exactly-once model, where your tasks and states are never executed more than once unless you have specified Retry behavior in ASL. This makes them suited to orchestrating non-idempotent actions, such as starting an Amazon EMR cluster or processing payments. Standard Workflows executions are billed according to the number of state transitions processed.

Express Workflows are ideal for high-volume, event-processing workloads such as IoT data ingestion, streaming data processing and transformation, and mobile application backends. They can run for up to five minutes. Express Workflows employ an at-least-once model, where there is a possibility that an execution might be run more than once. This makes them ideal for orchestrating idempotent actions such as transforming input data and storing via PUT in Amazon DynamoDB. Express Workflow executions are billed by the number of executions, the duration of execution, and the memory consumed.

Standard and Express Workflows can automatically start in response to events such as HTTP requests via Amazon API Gateway (fully-managed APIs at scale), IoT Rules and over 140 event sources in Amazon EventBridge.

Standard vs Express Workflows
Standard Workflows Express Workflows: Synchronous and Asynchronous
Maximum duration 1 year. 5 minutes.
Supported execution start rate Over 2,000 per second Over 100,000 per second
Supported state transition rate Over 4,000 per second per account Nearly unlimited
Pricing Priced per state transition. A state transition is counted each time a step in your execution is completed. Priced by the number of executions you run, their duration, and memory consumption.
Execution history Executions can be listed and described with Step Functions APIs, and visually debugged through the console. They can also be inspected in CloudWatch Logs by enabling logging on your state machine.

Unlimited execution history, that is, as many execution history entries are maintained as you can generate within a 5-minute period.

Further, executions can be inspected in CloudWatch Logs by enabling logging on your state machine.

Execution semantics Exactly-once workflow execution.

Asynchronous Express Workflows: At-least-once workflow execution.

Synchronous Express Workflows: At-most-once workflow execution.

Service integrations Supports all service integrations and patterns. Supports all service integrations.

Express Workflows do not support Job-run (.sync) or Callback (.waitForTaskToken) service integration patterns.

Step Functions activities Supports Step Functions activities. Does not support Step Functions activities.