About externalization

The Flink community has created and maintains multiple Flink connectors, which can be found in multiple locations.

The Flink community wants to improve on the overall connector ecosystem, which includes that we want to move existing connectors out of Flink's main repository and as a result decouple the release cycle of Flink with the release cycles of the connectors. This should result in:

  • Faster releases of connectors: New features can be added more quickly, bugs can be fixed immediately, and we can have faster security patches in case of direct or indirect (through dependencies) security flaws.
  • Adding newer connector features to older Flink versions: By having stable connector APIs, the same connector artifact may be used with different Flink versions. Thus, new features can also immediately be used with older Flink versions. 
  • More activity and contributions around connectors: By easing the contribution and development process around connectors, we will see faster development and also more connectors.
  • Standardized documentation and user experience for the connectors, regardless of where they are maintained. 
  • A faster Flink CI: By not needing to build and test connectors, the Flink CI pipeline will be faster and Flink developers will experience fewer build stabilities (which mostly come from connectors). That should speed up Flink development.

The following has been discussed and agreed by the Flink community with regards to connectors:

This document outlines common rules for connectors that are developed & released separately from Flink (otherwise known as "externalized").


Source releases:


Jar artifacts:


For example, 1.0.0-1.15

This may imply releasing the exact same connector jar multiple times under different versions.

Branch model

The default branch is called main and is used for the next major iteration.

Remaining branches are called v<major>.<minor>, for example v3.2.

Branches are not specific to a Flink version, i.e., no v3.2-1.15 .

Flink compatibility

The Flink versions supported by the project (at the time of writing the last 2 minor Flink versions) must be supported.

How this is achieved is left to the connector, as long as it conforms to the rest of the proposal.

Since branches may not be specific to a particular Flink version this may require the creation of dedicated modules for each supported Flink version.

The architecture of such modules is up to the connector.

For example, there could be:

  • a base connector with version-specific extension modules ("shims") that inject the version-specific behavior
  • a common utility module that is used by version-specific connector modules.


The last 2 major connector releases are supported with only the latter receiving additional features, with the following exceptions:

  • If the older major connector version does not support any currently supported Flink version, then it is no longer supported.
  • If the last 2 major versions do not cover all supported Flink versions, then the latest connector version that supports the older Flink version /additionally /gets patch support.

For a given major connector version only the latest minor version is supported.

This means if 1.1.x is released there will be no more 1.0.x release


ChangeInitial stateFinal state

New minor Connector version

Connector versionSupported Flink versionSupport
Connector versionSupported Flink versionSupport

New major Connector version

Connector versionSupported Flink versionSupport
Connector versionSupported Flink versionSupport

New major Connector version

The last 2 major version versions do not cover all supported Flink versions.

Connector versionSupported Flink versionSupport
Connector versionSupported Flink versionSupport

New minor Flink version

An older connector does not support any supported Flink version.

Connector versionSupported Flink versionSupport
Connector versionSupported Flink versionSupport

Externalization guide

https://github.com/apache/flink-connector-elasticsearch/ is the most complete example of an externalized connector.

Git history

When moving a connector out of the Flink repo the git history should be preserved.

Use the git-filter-repo tool to extract the relevant commits.

As an example, the externalization of the Cassandra connector required these commands to be run (in a fresh copy of the Flink repository!!!):

python3 git-filter-repo --path docs/content/docs/connectors/datastream/cassandra.md --path docs/content.zh/docs/connectors/datastream/cassandra.md --path flink-connectors/flink-connector-cassandra/
python3 git-filter-repo --path-rename flink-connectors/flink-connector-cassandra:flink-connector-cassandra

The result should be that only the desired modules related to the connector exist in your local branch.

Then rebase this branch on top of the bootstrapped externalized connector repo, then apply changes to make things actually work.

Parent pom

We have a parent pom that connectors should use.

		<!-- This will be migrated to org.apache.flink at a later time. -->

It handles various things; from setting up essential modules (like the compiler plugin), to QA (including license checks!), testing and Java 11/17 support.

(Almost) everything is opt-in, requiring the project to put a plugin into the <build>  section.

See the bottom of the <properties>  for properties that sub-projects should define.

CI utilities

we have a collection of ci utilities that connectors should use.


The ci.yml workflow can be used like this:

    uses: ./.github/workflows/ci.yml
    uses: apache/flink-connector-shared-utils/.github/workflows/ci.yml@ci_utils
      flink_version: 1.16.0
      flink_url: https://dist.apache.org/repos/dist/release/flink/flink-1.16.0/flink-1.16.0-bin-scala_2.12.tgz
      cache_flink_binary: true

Release utilities

We have a collection of release scripts that connectors should use.


See the contained README.md for details.

Documentation integration

The documentation should follow this structure:


See https://github.com/apache/flink/tree/master/docs#include-externally-hosted-documentation for more information on how to integrate the docs into Flink.

For generating a Maven dependency pom snippet, use the connector_artifact shortcode instead of artifact. This allows the Flink docs to inject the Flink version suffix.

Common review issues

Lack of production architecture tests

Within Flink the architecture tests for production are centralized in flink-architecture-tests-production, while the test architecture tests are spread out into each module. When externalizing the connector a separate architecture tests for production code must be added to the connector module(s).

Dependency convergence errors on transitive Flink dependencies

Flink is pulling transitively pulling in different version of dependencies like Kryo or objenesis, that must be converged in the connector.

Excess test dependencies

Flink defines several default test dependencies, like JUnit4 or hamcrest. These may not be required by the connector if it was already migrated to JUnit5/assertj.

DockerImageVersions usages

The DockerImageVersions class is a central listing of docker images used in Flink tests. Since connector-specific entries will be removed once the externalization is complete connectors shouldn't rely on this class but handle this on their own (either creating a trimmed-down copy, hard-coding the version or deriving it from a Maven property).

Connectors should not  bundle the connector-base module from Flink and instead set it to provided, as contained classes may rely on internal Flink classes.

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