Using Airflow UI Access Control

Cloud Composer 1 | Cloud Composer 2

This page describes different mechanisms of access control for the Airflow UI and DAG UI. You can use these mechanisms, in addition to access control provided by IAM, to separate users in the Airflow UI and DAG UI of your environment.

Overview of Airflow UI access control in Cloud Composer

Access to Airflow UI and DAG UI and visibility of data and operations in those UIs is controlled at two levels in Cloud Composer:

  1. Access to the Airflow UI and DAG UI in Cloud Composer is controlled by IAM.

    If an account does not have a role that can view Cloud Composer environments in your project, then Airflow UI and DAG UI are not available.

    IAM does not provide any additional fine-grained permission control in the Airflow UI or DAG UI.

  2. Apache Airflow Access Control model allows to reduce visibility in Airflow UI and DAG UI based on user role.

    Apache Airflow Access Control is a feature of Airflow, with its own model of users, roles, permissions, which is different from IAM.

Apache Airflow Access Control uses resource-based permissions. All Airflow users with a specific Airflow role get this role's permissions. For example, Airflow users that have a role with the can delete on Connections permission can delete connections on the Connections page in the Airflow UI.

You can also assign DAG-level permissions for individual DAGs. For example, so that only users with a specific Airflow role can see a certain DAG in the Airflow UI. In Cloud Composer, you can automatically assign DAG-level permissions, based on the subfolder where the DAG file is located in the environment's bucket.

If you want to set up access for external identities through workforce identity federation, first grant access to your environment in IAM, as described in the Grant IAM roles to external identities section. Afterwards, you can use the Airflow UI access control as usual. Airflow users for external identities use their principal identifier instead of the email address, and have different values populated into other user record fields than Google accounts.

Before you begin

Manage Airflow roles and access control settings

Users with the Admin role (or equivalent) can view and modify access control settings in the Airflow UI.

In the Airflow UI, you can configure access control settings from the Security menu. For more information about the Airflow Access Control model, available permissions, and default roles, see the Airflow UI Access Control documentation.

Airflow maintains its own list of users. Users with the Admin role (or equivalent) can view the list of users who have opened the Airflow UI of an environment, and were registered in Airflow. This list also includes users manually preregistered by an Admin, as described in the following section.

Register users in the Airflow UI

New users are automatically registered when they open the Airflow UI of a Cloud Composer environment for the first time.

At registration, users are granted the role specified in the [webserver]rbac_user_registration_role Airflow configuration option. You can control the role of newly registered users by overriding this Airflow configuration option with a different value.

If not specified, the default registration role is Op in environments with Airflow 2.

The following steps are recommended for creating a basic role configuration for the Airflow UI:

  1. Environment administrators open the Airflow UI for the newly created environment.

  2. Grant the administrator accounts the Admin role. The default role for new accounts in environments with Airflow 2 is Op. To assign the Admin role, run the following Airflow CLI command with gcloud:

      gcloud composer environments run ENVIRONMENT_NAME \
        --location LOCATION \
        users add-role -- -e USER_EMAIL -r Admin


    • ENVIRONMENT_NAME with the name of the environment.
    • LOCATION with the region where the environment is located.
    • USER_EMAIL with the email of a user account.
  3. Admins can now configure access control for new users, including granting the Admin role to other users.

Preregister users

Users are automatically registered with numeric IDs of Google user accounts (not email addresses) as their usernames. You can also manually preregister a user and assign a role to them by adding a user record with the username field set to the user's primary email address. When a user with an email address matching a preregistered user record logs in to Airflow UI for the first time, their username is replaced with the user ID currently (at the time of first login) identified by their email address. The relationship between Google identities (email addresses) and user accounts (user IDs) is not fixed. Google groups cannot be preregistered.

To preregister users, you can use Airflow UI or run an Airflow CLI command through Google Cloud CLI.

To preregister a user with a custom role through Google Cloud CLI, run the following Airflow CLI command:

gcloud composer environments run ENVIRONMENT_NAME \
  --location LOCATION \
  users create -- \
  -r ROLE \
  -l LAST_NAME \
  --use-random-password # The password value is required, but is not used

Replace the following:

  • ENVIRONMENT_NAME: the name of the environment
  • LOCATION: the region where the environment is located
  • ROLE: an Airflow role for the user, for example, Op
  • USER_EMAIL: the user's email address
  • FIRST_NAME and LAST_NAME: user's first name and last name


gcloud composer environments run example-environment \
  --location us-central1 \
  users create -- \
  -r Op \
  -e "" \
  -u "" \
  -f "Name" \
  -l "Surname" \

Remove users

Deleting a user from Airflow does not revoke access for that user, because they are automatically registered again next time they access the Airflow UI. To revoke access to the entire Airflow UI, remove the composer.environments.get permission from their allow policy for your project.

You can also change the user's role to Public, which keeps the user's registration, but removes all permissions for the Airflow UI.

Configure DAG-level permissions automatically

The Per-folder Roles Registration feature automatically creates a custom Airflow role for each subfolder directly inside the /dags folder and grants this role DAG-level access to all DAGs that have their source file stored in that respective subfolder. This streamlines management of custom Airflow roles and their access to DAGs.

How Per-folder Roles Registration works

Per-folder Roles Registration is an automated way of configuring roles and their DAG-level permissions. As such, it can cause conflicts with other Airflow mechanisms that grant DAG-level permissions:

To prevent such conflicts, enabling Per-folder Roles Registration also changes the behavior of these mechanisms.

In Airflow 2:

  • You can grant DAG access to roles through the access_control property defined in DAG source code.
  • Manually granting DAG permissions (through Airflow UI or gcloud CLI) can cause conflicts. For example, if you manually grant DAG-level permissions to a per-folder role, these permissions can be removed or overwritten when the DAG processor synchronizes a DAG. We recommend not to grant DAG permissions manually.
  • Roles have a union of DAG access permissions registered through Per-folder Roles Registration and defined in the access_control property of the DAG.

DAGs located directly in the top-level /dags folder are not auto-assigned to any per-folder role. They are not accessible with any per-folder role. Other roles like Admin, Op, User or any custom role that is granted permissions can access them through the Airflow UI and DAG UI.

If you upload DAGs to subfolders with names that match built-in Airflow roles and roles created by Cloud Composer, then permissions to DAGs in these subfolders are still assigned to these roles. For example, uploading a DAG to the /dags/Admin folder grants permissions to this DAG to the Admin role. Built-in Airflow roles include Admin, Op, User, Viewer, and Public. Cloud Composer creates NoDags and UserNoDags after the Per-folder Roles Registration feature is enabled.

Airflow performs per-folder roles registration when it processes DAGs in the Airflow scheduler. If there are more than a hundred DAGs in your environment, you might see an increase in DAG parsing time. If this is the case, we recommend to use more memory and CPU for schedulers. You can also increase the value of the [scheduler]parsing_processes Airflow configuration option.

Auto-assign DAGs to per-folder roles

To auto-assign DAGs to per-folder roles:

  1. Override the following Airflow configuration option:

    Section Key Value
    webserver rbac_autoregister_per_folder_roles True
  2. Change the new user registration role to a role without access to any DAGs. In this way, new users do not have access to any DAGs until an Admin assigns a role that has permissions for specific DAGs to their accounts.

    UserNoDags is a role created by Cloud Composer only when Per-folder Roles Registration feature is enabled. It is an equivalent to the User role but without access to any DAGs.

    Override the following Airflow configuration option:

    Section Key Value
    webserver rbac_user_registration_role UserNoDags

  3. Make sure that users are registered in Airflow.

  4. Assign roles to users using one of the approaches:

    • Let Airflow automatically create roles based on the DAGs subfolders, then assign users to these roles.
    • Pre-create empty roles for the DAGs subfolders, with role names matching the name of a subfolder, then assign users to these roles. For example, for the /dags/CustomFolder folder, create a role named CustomFolder.
  5. Upload DAGs to subfolders with names that match the roles assigned to users. These subfolders must be located inside the /dags folder in the environment's bucket. Airflow adds permissions to DAGs in such a subfolder, so that only users with the corresponding role can access them through the Airflow UI and DAG UI.

Configure DAG-level permissions manually

You can configure DAG-level permissions for custom roles to specify which DAGs are visible for specific user groups.

To configure DAG-level permissions in Airflow UI:

  1. The Admin creates empty roles for grouping DAGs.
  2. The Admin assigns users to appropriate roles.
  3. The Admin or users assign DAGs to roles.
  4. In Airflow UI, users can only see DAGs assigned to their group.

DAGs can be assigned to roles either through DAG properties, or from the Airflow UI.

Assigning DAGs to roles in the Airflow UI

An Admin can assign the required DAG-level permissions to appropriate role(s) in the Airflow UI.

This operation is not supported in the DAG UI.

Assigning DAGs to roles in DAG properties

You can set the access_control DAG parameter on a DAG, specifying the DAG-grouping role(s) to which the DAG is assigned.

In Airflow 2 versions earlier than 2.1.0, the Admin, DAG developer, or an automated process must run the sync-perm Airflow command to apply the new access control settings.

In Airflow 2.1.0 and later versions, running this command is no longer required, because the scheduler applies DAG-level permissions when it parses a DAG.

dag = DAG(
    'DagGroup': {'can_edit', 'can_read'},

Map audit logs in Airflow UI to users

Audit logs in Airflow UI are mapped to numeric IDs of Google user accounts. For example, if a user pauses a DAG, an entry is added to the logs.

You can view audit logs on the Browse > Audit Logs page in the Airflow UI.

An entry on the Audit Logs page in Airflow 2
Figure 1. An entry on the Audit Logs page in Airflow 2

A typical entry lists a numeric ID in the Owner field: You can map numeric IDs to user emails on the Security > List Users page. This page is available for users with the Admin role.

Note that the relationship between Google identities (email addresses) and user accounts (user IDs) is not fixed.

What's next