Getting started with Amazon Step Functions - Amazon Step Functions
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Getting started with Amazon Step Functions

Welcome to the Step Functions Getting Started tutorials series.

Step Functions is a serverless orchestration service that lets you define an application workflow as a series of event-driven steps. Each step in the workflow is called a state. You most commonly use states, such as Task state, Choice, Parallel, and Map, to define your workflows. Within Task states, you can use the Amazon SDK integrations that Step Functions supports and orchestrate multiple Amazon Web Services in your workflows.

Key concepts

This section introduces you to important Step Functions concepts. Before you get started, review the following key concepts.

Term Description
Workflow Describes a sequence of steps and often matches a business process.
Workflow Studio A visual workflow designer that helps you to prototype and build workflows faster. For more information, see Amazon Step Functions Workflow Studio.
States Individual steps in your state machine, which perform a variety of functions in the state machine. For more information, see States.
State machines

A workflow defined using JSON text representing the individual states or steps in the workflow along with fields, such as StartAt, TimeoutSeconds, and Version. For more information, see State machine structure.

Amazon States Language A JSON-based, structured language used to define your state machine. It's a collection of states that can do work (Task state), determine which states to transition to next (Choice state), and stop an execution with an error (Fail state). For more information, see Amazon States Language.
Input and output configuration Individual states in a workflow receive JSON data as input and usually pass JSON data as output to the next state. Step Functions provides multiple filters to control the input and output data flow between states. For more information, see Input and Output Processing in Step Functions.
Service integration Step Functions directly integrates with Amazon Web Services, letting you call each service's API actions from your workflow. For more information, see Using Amazon Step Functions with other services.
Service integration type

Step Functions provides the following service integration types:

  • Optimized integrations – Customized by Step Functions to provide special functionality for a workflow. For example, Lambda Invoke will convert its API output from an escaped JSON string to a JSON object.

  • Amazon SDK integrations – Behaves exactly like a standard API call using the Amazon SDK. You can call any of the over two hundred Amazon Web Services directly from your state machine and access over nine thousand API actions.

For more information, see Using Amazon Step Functions with other services.

Service integration pattern

To call an integrated Amazon Web Service in your workflow, you use one of the following service integration patterns that Step Functions provides:

Execution State machine executions are instances where you run your workflow to perform tasks. For more information, see Executions in Step Functions.

Tutorials in this series

The Getting Started tutorials in this chapter walk you through creating a basic workflow for processing credit card applications. In these tutorials, you'll learn how to use commonly used states in Step Functions. You'll integrate your workflow with other Amazon Web Services, such as Amazon Lambda and Amazon Simple Notification Service. After completing these tutorials, you'll have a simple workflow that simulates processing a credit card application.


While these Getting Started tutorials depict a credit card application workflow, you can use Step Functions for creating multiple types of workflows. For example, you can create workflows for data processing, IT automation, machine learning, media processing, or order processing.

The following images represent a credit card application workflow and how it appears when orchestrated using Step Functions. Each step in the flowchart is represented with a state in the Step Functions workflow.

A simple workflow representing the steps involved in a card application process.
A card application process represented as a Step Functions workflow.

We recommend completing all of these tutorials in order. Completing the full tutorials will teach you how to use concepts and features key to using Step Functions in production workflows.

The following roadmap shows the steps that you'll perform to build the credit card processing workflow using Step Functions' Workflow Studio. These steps are presented as a series of tutorials that contain instructions on how to complete that step.

A roadmap of the tutorials in this Getting Started tutorials series.

Before you get started, make sure to complete the prerequisites.