Workflow introspection

Runtime metadata

The implicit workflow object allows you to access some workflow and runtime metadata in your Nextflow scripts. For example:

println "Project : $workflow.projectDir"
println "Git info: $workflow.repository - $workflow.revision [$workflow.commitId]"
println "Cmd line: $workflow.commandLine"


To shortcut the access to multiple workflow properties you can use the Groovy with method.

The following table lists the properties that can be accessed on the workflow object:

Name Description
scriptId Project main script unique hash ID.
scriptName Project main script file name.
scriptFile Project main script file path.
repository Project repository Git remote URL.
commitId Git commit ID of the executed workflow repository.
revision Git branch/tag of the executed workflow repository.
projectDir Directory where the workflow project is stored in the computer.
launchDir Directory where the workflow execution has been launched.
workDir Workflow working directory.
container Docker image used to run workflow tasks. When more than one image is used it returns a map object containing [process name, image name] pair entries.
commandLine Command line as entered by the user to launch the workflow execution.
profile Used configuration profile.
runName Mnemonic name assigned to this execution instance.
sessionId Unique identifier (UUID) associated to current execution.
resume Returns true whenever the current instance is resumed from a previous execution.
start Timestamp of workflow at execution start.
complete Timestamp of workflow when execution is completed.
duration Time elapsed to complete workflow execution.
* success Reports if the execution completed successfully.
* exitStatus Exit status of the task that caused the workflow execution to fail.
* errorMessage Error message of the task that caused the workflow execution to fail.
* errorReport Detailed error of the task that caused the workflow execution to fail.
nextflow.version Nextflow runtime version number. Nextflow runtime build number.
nextflow.timestamp Nextflow runtime compile timestamp.

Properties marked with a are accessible only in the workflow completion handler. Properties marked with a * are accessible only in the workflow completion and error handlers. See the following section for details.

Completion handler

Due to the asynchronous nature of Nextflow the termination of a script does not correspond to the termination of the running workflow. Thus some information, only available on execution completion, needs to be accessed by using an asynchronous handler.

The onComplete event handler is invoked by the framework when the workflow execution is completed. It allows one to access the workflow termination status and other useful information. For example:

workflow.onComplete {
    println "Pipeline completed at: $workflow.complete"
    println "Execution status: ${ workflow.success ? 'OK' : 'failed' }"

Error handler

The onError even handler is invoked by Nextflow when a runtime or process error caused the pipeline execution to stop. For example:

workflow.onError {
    println "Oops... Pipeline execution stopped with the following message: ${workflow.errorMessage}"


Both the onError and onComplete handlers are invoked when an error condition is encountered. However the first is called as soon as the error is raised, while the second just before the pipeline execution is going terminate. When using the finish errorStrategy, between the two there could be a significant time gap depending by the time required to complete any pending job.

Notification message

Nextflow does not provide a built-in mechanism to send emails or other messages. However the mail standard Linux tool (or an equivalent one) can easily be used to send a notification message when the workflow execution is completed, as shown below:

workflow.onComplete {
    def subject = 'My pipeline execution'
    def recipient = ''

    ['mail', '-s', subject, recipient].execute() << """

    Pipeline execution summary
    Completed at: ${workflow.complete}
    Duration    : ${workflow.duration}
    Success     : ${workflow.success}
    workDir     : ${workflow.workDir}
    exit status : ${workflow.exitStatus}
    Error report: ${workflow.errorReport ?: '-'}

Decoupling metadata

The workflow event handlers can be defined also in the nextflow.config file. This is useful to decouple the handling of pipeline events from the main script logic.

When the event handlers are included in a configuration file the only difference is that the onComplete and the onError closures have to be defined by using the assignment operator as shown below:

workflow.onComplete = {
    // any workflow property can be used here
    println "Pipeline complete"
    println "Command line: $workflow.commandLine"

workflow.onError = {
    println "Oops .. something when wrong"


It is possible to define a workflow event handlers both in the pipeline script and in the configuration file.