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Customize Operator Extra Links

Airflow includes plugins for customizing the Airflow UI. One small but impactful customization is adding extra links in the Details view for operators in the UI. These extra links can point to static websites, such as documentation for the operator, or dynamic links created from information during the task instance run.

BashOperator with extra link

This tutorial shows how to add both static and dynamic extra links using the AirflowExtraLinkPlugin to existing and custom operators.

After you complete this tutorial, you'll be able to:

  • Add a static operator extra link to any operator using an Airflow plugin.
  • Modify an existing operator to push an additional value to XCom.
  • Add a dynamic operator extra link to any operator using an Airflow plugin.

Time to complete

This tutorial takes approximately 1 hour to complete.

Assumed knowledge

To get the most out of this tutorial, make sure you have an understanding of:


Step 1: Create an Astro project

Set up Airflow by creating a new Astro project:

$ mkdir astro-extra-link-tutorial && cd astro-extra-link-tutorial
$ astro dev init

Step 2: Create a DAG using the SimpleHttpOperator

You'll first add a static link to the SimpleHttpOperator which goes to the Mozilla HTTP documentation. This link will appear on every task instance created by this operator.

  1. Create a new Python file named in the dags folder of your Airflow project.

  2. Copy and paste the following DAG code into your file:

    from airflow.models.dag import DAG
    from airflow.providers.http.operators.http import SimpleHttpOperator
    from pendulum import datetime

    with DAG(
    start_date=datetime(2022, 11, 1),

    call_api_simple = SimpleHttpOperator(

This DAG has one SimpleHttpOperator task that posts a GET request to an API as defined in the random_user_api_conn connection.

Create an Airflow plugin to add an extra link to the operator.

  1. Create a new Python file named in the plugins folder of your Airflow project.

  2. Copy paste the following code into your file.

    from airflow.plugins_manager import AirflowPlugin
    from airflow.models.baseoperator import BaseOperatorLink
    from airflow.providers.http.operators.http import SimpleHttpOperator

    # define the extra link
    class HTTPDocsLink(BaseOperatorLink):
    # name the link button in the UI
    name = "HTTP docs"

    # add the button to one or more operators
    operators = [SimpleHttpOperator]

    # provide the link
    def get_link(self, operator, *, ti_key=None):
    return ""

    # define the plugin class
    class AirflowExtraLinkPlugin(AirflowPlugin):
    name = "extra_link_plugin"
    operator_extra_links = [

This script accomplishes the following:

  • Defines an operator extra link called HTTPDocsLink which will create an extra link button with the name HTTP docs. Customize this string to change the name on the button displayed in the UI.
  • Adds the SimpleHttpOperator to the list of operators this extra link will be applied to. You can add as many operators as you'd like, including custom operators.
  • Defines the get_link() method which determines the website the operator extra link will link to. You can change this function to any Python function that returns a valid link. See Step 9 for instructions on how to make this link dynamically change between task instances.
  • Creates an instance of the AirflowPlugin class which will be automatically picked up by Airflow to install the plugin named extra_link_plugin in your Airflow instance.
  • Adds the HTTPDocsLink plugin to the extra_link_plugin. You can add several operator extra links to the same Airflow plugin.

Step 4: Add an HTTP connection

  1. Run astro dev start in your Astro project directory to start up Airflow. If your Airflow instance is already running, use astro dev restart to restart it in order to load any changes made in the plugins folder.

  2. Add an HTTP connection called random_user_api_conn to in the Airflow UI. This API will return data about a randomly generated user persona. Feel free to use a different API, the content returned will not be relevant for this tutorial. Learn more about connections in the Manage connections in Apache Airflow guide.

    HTTP connection

  1. Run the plugins_test_dag.

  2. In the Grid view, click the green square representing the successful run of the call_api_simple task. Select the Details tab and scroll down to see the extra link button called HTTP docs.

    HTTP docs button

  3. Click on the button to visit the HTTP docs on Mozilla.

Step 6: Create a custom operator

Another core feature of extra links is that you can dynamically generate them based on information returned by an operator at run time. The second half of this tutorial will cover how to modify an operator to push the value you need to XComs and retrieve that value for use in an extra link.

  1. Create a new file called in the include folder of your Airflow project.

  2. Copy the following code into the file.

    from airflow.providers.http.operators.http import SimpleHttpOperator
    from airflow.providers.http.hooks.http import HttpHook
    from airflow.utils.operator_helpers import determine_kwargs
    from airflow.exceptions import AirflowException

    class CatHttpOperator(SimpleHttpOperator):

    # initialize with identical arguments to the parent class
    def __init__(self, **kwargs):

    def execute(self, context):

    http = HttpHook(
    )"Calling HTTP method")

    response =
    self.endpoint,, self.headers, self.extra_options
    if self.log_response:
    if self.response_check:
    kwargs = determine_kwargs(self.response_check, [response], context)
    if not self.response_check(response, **kwargs):
    raise AirflowException("Response check returned False.")
    if self.response_filter:
    kwargs = determine_kwargs(self.response_filter, [response], context)
    return self.response_filter(response, **kwargs)

    # pushing the HTTP status response to XComs
    context["ti"].xcom_push(key="status_code", value=response.status_code)

    return response.text

    This code defines a custom version of the SimpleHttpOperator called the CatHttpOperator. This operator has a one-line customization before the return statement of the .execute() method:context["ti"].xcom_push(key="status_code", value=response.status_code).

    This line pushes the status_code attribute of the response object to XComs where it can be called from your plugin.

  3. Add an empty Python file called to your include folder. This file enables module imports from the folder.

Step 7: Create a DAG with your custom operator

  1. In the file import the CatHttpOperator by adding the following import statement at the start of the code:

    from include.cat_http import CatHttpOperator
  2. Create a second task in the existing DAG context using the new operator with the code snippet below.

    call_api_cat = CatHttpOperator(

This task will post the same GET request to the API you defined with the connection ID random_user_api_conn as the first task, but this time using the CatHttpOperator.

Step 8: Run your DAG and view modified XComs

  1. Run the plugins_test_dag, which now consists of two tasks.

  2. Select the latest run of the call_api_cat task in the Grid view and click on the XCom tab to view XComs returned by this task.

    XCom tab

  3. Verify that the XCom for this task instance contains an entry for status_code. In the screenshot below the HTTP status code returned was 200.

    HTTP status code returned

Next, you will create a dynamic extra link using an Airflow plugin by following these steps:

  1. Open in your plugins folder.

  2. Add the following import statements at the start of the file:

    from include.cat_http import CatHttpOperator
    from airflow.models import XCom
  3. Copy paste the following code below the definition of the HTTPDocsLink class and above the definition of the AirflowExtraLinkPlugin class.

    class CatLink(BaseOperatorLink):
    # name the link button in the UI
    name = "HTTP cat"

    # add the button to one or more operators
    operators = [CatHttpOperator]

    # provide the link
    def get_link(self, operator, *, ti_key=None):
    status_code = XCom.get_value(key="status_code", ti_key=ti_key) or ""
    return f"{status_code}"

    This code creates a class called CatLink derived from BaseOperatorLink. The .get_link() method retrieves the status_code you pushed to XCom and appends it to the HTTP cat Api link.

  4. Update the operator_extra_links list in the AirflowExtraLinkPlugin class with the new CatLink(). The class should look like this:

    class AirflowExtraLinkPlugin(AirflowPlugin):
    name = "extra_link_plugin"
    operator_extra_links = [
    CatLink(), # add this line
  5. Save the file and restart your Airflow instance with astro dev restart.

Your second extra link has now been added to the CatHttpOperator.

  1. In the Airflow UI, run plugins_test_dag again.

  2. Navigate to the Graph View and click on the call_api_cat task.

  3. Click the HTTP Cat button to find the response of your last API call illustrated with a fitting cat.

    Cat Button

  4. (Optional) See all your plugins listed under Admin -> Plugins.

    Plugin with two extra links shown in the UI


Congratulations! You added two operator extra links as an Airflow plugin. On the way you also learned how to modify an existing operator to pass an additional value to XCom.


Extra links can be also be added to operators when creating an Airflow provider. If you want to add an operator extra link to a custom operator as part of a provider package, make sure you install it with the rest of the package using a file or wheels.

In general, adding an operator extra link via plugin as described in this tutorial is easier for use in a limited number of Airflow instances. However, if you are planning to use the extra link in a large number of deployments, consider adding them to an Airflow provider instead.

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