This documentation is for an out-of-date version of Apache Flink. We recommend you use the latest stable version.

Data Types

In Apache Flink’s Python DataStream API, a data type describes the type of a value in the DataStream ecosystem. It can be used to declare input and output types of operations and informs the system how to serailize elements.

Pickle Serialization

If the type has not been declared, data would be serialized or deserialized using Pickle. For example, the program below specifies no data types.

from pyflink.datastream import StreamExecutionEnvironment

def processing():
    env = StreamExecutionEnvironment.get_execution_environment()
    env.from_collection(collection=[(1, 'aaa'), (2, 'bbb')]) \
        .map(lambda record: (record[0]+1, record[1].upper())) \
        .print()  # note: print to stdout on the worker machine


if __name__ == '__main__':

However, types need to be specified when:

  • Passing Python records to Java operations.
  • Improve serialization and deserialization performance.

Passing Python records to Java operations

Since Java operators or functions can not identify Python data, types need to be provided to help to convert Python types to Java types for processing. For example, types need to be provided if you want to output data using the StreamingFileSink which is implemented in Java.

from pyflink.common.serialization import SimpleStringEncoder
from pyflink.common.typeinfo import Types
from pyflink.datastream import StreamExecutionEnvironment
from pyflink.datastream.connectors import StreamingFileSink

def streaming_file_sink():
    env = StreamExecutionEnvironment.get_execution_environment()
    env.from_collection(collection=[(1, 'aaa'), (2, 'bbb')]) \
        .map(lambda record: (record[0]+1, record[1].upper()),
             result_type=Types.ROW([Types.INT(), Types.STRING()])) \
                  .for_row_format('/tmp/output', SimpleStringEncoder())


if __name__ == '__main__':

Improve serialization and deserialization performance

Even though data can be serialized and deserialized through Pickle, performance will be better if types are provided. Explicit types allow PyFlink to use efficient serializers when moving records through the pipeline.

Supported Data Types

You can use pyflink.common.typeinfo.Types to specify types in Python DataStream API. The table below shows the type supported now and how to define them:

PyFlink Type Usage Corresponding Python Type
SHORT Types.SHORT() int
INT Types.INT() int
LONG Types.LONG() int
FLOAT Types.FLOAT() float
DOUBLE Types.DOUBLE() float
CHAR Types.CHAR() str
BIG_INT Types.BIG_INT() bytes
BIG_DEC Types.BIG_DEC() decimal.Decimal
BYTE Types.BYTE() int
TUPLE Types.TUPLE() tuple
ROW Types.ROW() dict