Scheduling Tasks With Cron for PHP

The App Engine Cron Service allows you to configure regularly scheduled tasks that operate at defined times or regular intervals. These tasks are commonly known as cron jobs. These cron jobs are automatically triggered by the App Engine Cron Service. For instance, you might use a cron job to send out an email report on a daily basis, or to update some cached data every 10 minutes, or refresh summary information once an hour.

A cron job invokes a URL, using an HTTP GET request, at a given time of day. An cron job request is subject to the same limits as those for push task queues.

Creating a cron job

  1. Create the cron.yaml file in the root directory of your application (alongside app.yaml).
  2. Add one or more <cron> entries to your file and define the necessary elements for your job, including the required <url> and <schedule> elements.

    The following example creates a basic cron job that runs daily:

    - description: daily summary job
      url: /tasks/summary
      target: v2.beta
      schedule: every 24 hours

    The target specification is optional and is the name of a service/version. If present, the target is prepended to your app's hostname, causing the job to be routed to that service/version. If no target is specified, the job will run in the default version of the default service.

  3. Create a handler for the cron job's URL. The handler should execute any tasks that you want scheduled. The handler should respond with an HTTP status code between 200 and 299 (inclusive) to indicate success. Other status codes can be returned and can be used to trigger retrying the job.

For more information about the syntax and parameters of the cron.yaml, see the cron.yaml reference.

Testing cron jobs in the development server

The development server doesn't automatically run your cron jobs. You can make requests directly to your cron job's URL to test your functionality. You can use your local cron or scheduled tasks interface to trigger the URLs of your jobs with curl or a similar tool.

When using the PHP SDK, the dev_appserver has an admin interface that allows you to view cron jobs at http://localhost:8000/cron.

Uploading cron jobs

You can use to upload cron jobs.

Option 1: Upload your whole application

To upload your whole application, which also updates the Cron Service with the entries from your cron.yaml file, run the following command: update <app-directory>

Option 2: Upload only your cron updates

To update just the cron configuration without uploading the rest of the application, run the following command: update_cron <app-directory>

Deleting all cron jobs

To delete all cron jobs:

  1. Change the cron.yaml file to just contain:

  2. Upload your cron file.

Retrying cron jobs that fail

If a cron job's request handler returns a status code that is not in the range 200–299 (inclusive) App Engine considers the job to have failed. By default, failed jobs are not retried.

To set failed jobs to be retried:

  1. Include a job_retry_parameters block in your cron.yaml file.
  2. Choose and set the retry parameters in the job_retry_parameters block.

    For example, this sample cron.yaml file contains a single cron job that is configured to retry up to five times (the default) with a starting backoff of 2.5 seconds that doubles each time.

    - description: retry demo
      url: /retry
      schedule: every 10 mins
        min_backoff_seconds: 2.5
        max_doublings: 5

Learn more about the cron retry options

Securing URLs for cron

A cron handler is just a normal handler defined in app.yaml. You can prevent users from accessing URLs used by scheduled tasks by restricting access to administrator accounts. Scheduled tasks can access admin-only URLs. You can restrict a URL by adding login: admin to the handler configuration in app.yaml.

An example might look like this in app.yaml:

application: hello-cron
version: 1
runtime: php55
api_version: 1

- url: /report/weekly
  script: weekly.php
  login: admin
For more information see how to require login or admin status in the app.yaml reference.

To test a cron job, sign in as an administrator and visit the URL of the handler in your browser.

Requests from the Cron Service will also contain a HTTP header:

X-Appengine-Cron: true

The X-Appengine-Cron header is set internally by Google App Engine. If your request handler finds this header it can trust that the request is a cron request. If the header is present in an external user request to your app, it is stripped, except for requests from logged in administrators of the application, who are allowed to set the header for testing purposes.

Google App Engine issues Cron requests from the IP address

Calling Google Cloud Endpoints

You cannot specify a Google Cloud Endpoint in the url field of a cron job. If you want your cron job to call a Google Cloud Endpoint, issue a request to a target that is served by a handler in your app, and call endpoint class and method from the handler code.

Viewing cron jobs in the Cloud Platform Console

The Cloud Platform Console Task queues page has a tab that shows the tasks that are running cron jobs.

You can also visit the Logs page see when cron jobs were added or removed.

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