Debugging Windows & Event Time

Monitoring Current Event Time

Flink’s event time and watermark support is a powerful feature for handling out-of-order events. However, it’s harder to understand what exactly is going on because the progress of time is tracked within the system.

Low watermarks of each task can be accessed through Flink web interface or metrics system.

Each Task in Flink exposes a metric called currentLowWatermark that represents the lowest watermark received by this task. This long value represents the “current event time”. The value is calculated by taking the minimum of all watermarks received by upstream operators. This means that the event time tracked with watermarks is always dominated by the furthest-behind source.

The low watermark metric is accessible using the web interface, by choosing a task in the metric tab, and selecting the <taskNr>.currentLowWatermark metric. In the new box you’ll now be able to see the current low watermark of the task.

Another way of getting the metric is using one of the metric reporters, as described in the documentation for the metrics system. For local setups, we recommend using the JMX metric reporter and a tool like VisualVM.

Handling Event Time Stragglers

  • Approach 1: Watermark stays late (indicated completeness), windows fire early
  • Approach 2: Watermark heuristic with maximum lateness, windows accept late data

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