Handling Error Conditions Using a Step Functions State Machine - Amazon Step Functions
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Handling Error Conditions Using a Step Functions State Machine

In this tutorial, you create an Amazon Step Functions state machine with a Catch field. The Catch uses an Amazon Lambda function to respond with conditional logic based on error message type. This is a technique called function error handling.

For more information, see Function Error Handling in the Amazon Lambda Developer Guide.


You can also create state machines that Retry on timeouts or those that use Catch to transition to a specific state when an error or timeout occurs. For examples of these error handling techniques, see Examples Using Retry and Using Catch.

Step 1: Create an IAM Role for Lambda

Both Amazon Lambda and Amazon Step Functions can execute code and access Amazon resources (for example, data stored in Amazon S3 buckets). To maintain security, you must grant Lambda and Step Functions access to these resources.

Lambda requires you to assign an Amazon Identity and Access Management (IAM) role when you create a Lambda function, in the same way Step Functions requires you to assign an IAM role when you create a state machine.

  1. Sign in to the IAM console and choose Roles, Create role.

  2. On the Select type of trusted entity page, under Amazon service, select Lambda from the list, and then choose Next: Permissions.


    The role is automatically provided with a trust relationship that allows Lambda to use the role.

  3. On the Attach permissions policy page, choose Next: Review.

  4. On the Review page, enter MyLambdaRole for Role Name, and then choose Create role.

The IAM role appears in the list of roles.

Step 2: Create a Lambda Function That Fails

Use a Lambda function to simulate an error condition.


Ensure that your Lambda function is under the same Amazon account and Amazon Region as your state machine.

  1. Open the Amazon Lambda console at https://console.amazonaws.cn/lambda/.

    Choose Create a function.

  2. In the Blueprints section, enter step-functions into the filter, and then choose the step-functions-error blueprint.

  3. In the Basic information section, configure your Lambda function:

    1. For Name, enter FailFunction.

    2. For Role, select Choose an existing role.

    3. For Existing role, choose the Lambda role that you created earlier.


      If the IAM role that you created doesn't appear in the list, the role might still need a few minutes to propagate to Lambda.

  4. The following code is displayed in the Lambda function code pane.

    'use strict'; exports.handler = (event, context, callback) => { function CustomError(message) { this.name = 'CustomError'; this.message = message; } CustomError.prototype = new Error(); const error = new CustomError('This is a custom error!'); callback(error); };

    The context object returns the error message This is a custom error!.

  5. Choose Create function.

    When your Lambda function is created, make a note of its Amazon Resource Name (ARN) in the upper-right corner of the page, as shown in the following example.


Step 3: Test the Lambda Function

Test your Lambda function to see it in operation.

  1. On the FailFunction page, choose Test.

  2. In the Configure test event dialog box, enter FailFunction for Event name, and then choose Create.

  3. On the FailFunction page, Test your Lambda function.

    The results of the test (the simulated error) are displayed at the bottom of the page.

Step 4: Create a State Machine with a Catch Field

Use the Step Functions console to create a state machine that uses a Task state with a Catch field. Add a reference to your Lambda function in the Task state. The Lambda function is invoked and fails during execution. Step Functions retries the function twice using exponential backoff between retries.

  1. Open the Step Functions console and choose Create state machine.

  2. On the Create a state machine page, choose Start with a template, and then choose Catch failure.

  3. Under Type, choose Standard.

  4. In the Code pane, add the ARN of the Lambda function that you created earlier to the Resource field, as shown in the following example.

    { "Comment": "A Catch example of the Amazon States Language using an Amazon Lambda function", "StartAt": "CreateAccount", "States": { "CreateAccount": { "Type": "Task", "Resource": "arn:aws-cn:lambda:us-east-1:123456789012:function:FailFunction", "Catch": [ { "ErrorEquals": ["CustomError"], "Next": "CustomErrorFallback" }, { "ErrorEquals": ["States.TaskFailed"], "Next": "ReservedTypeFallback" }, { "ErrorEquals": ["States.ALL"], "Next": "CatchAllFallback" } ], "End": true }, "CustomErrorFallback": { "Type": "Pass", "Result": "This is a fallback from a custom Lambda function exception", "End": true }, "ReservedTypeFallback": { "Type": "Pass", "Result": "This is a fallback from a reserved error code", "End": true }, "CatchAllFallback": { "Type": "Pass", "Result": "This is a fallback from any error code", "End": true } } }

    This is a description of your state machine using the Amazon States Language. It defines a single Task state named CreateAccount. For more information, see State Machine Structure.

    For more information about the syntax of the Retry field, see Examples using Retry and using Catch.


    Unhandled errors in Lambda are reported as Lambda.Unknown in the error output. These include out-of-memory errors and function timeouts. You can match on Lambda.Unknown, States.ALL, or States.TaskFailed to handle these errors. When Lambda hits the maximum number of invocations, the error is Lambda.TooManyRequestsException. For more information about Lambda Handled and Unhandled errors, see FunctionError in the Amazon Lambda Developer Guide.

  5. Use the graph in the Visual Workflow pane to check that your Amazon States Language code describes your state machine correctly.

    If you don't see the graph, choose 
    in the Visual Workflow pane.

  6. Choose Next.

  7. Enter a Name for your state machine, or use the default name, Catchfailure.

  8. Choose Choose an existing role, MyLambdaRole in the dropdown list.

  9. Choose Create state machine.

Step 5: Start a New Execution

After you create your state machine, you can start an execution.

  1. On the CatchStateMachine page, choose Start execution.

    The New execution page is displayed.

  2. (Optional) To help identify your execution, you can specify an ID for it in the Enter an execution name box. If you don't enter an ID, Step Functions generates a unique ID automatically.


    Step Functions allows you to create state machine, execution, and activity names that contain non-ASCII characters. These non-ASCII names don't work with Amazon CloudWatch. To ensure that you can track CloudWatch metrics, choose a name that uses only ASCII characters.

  3. Choose Start Execution.

    A new execution of your state machine starts, and a new page showing your running execution is displayed.

  4. In the Execution Details section, expand the Output section to view the output of your workflow.

                            Execution output
  5. To view your custom error message, select CreateAccount in the Visual workflow and expand the Output section.

                            Error output

    You can preserve the state input with the error by using ResultPath. See Use ResultPath to Include Both Error and Input in a Catch.