Activity Error Handling

Last modified 27 Mar 2023 22:15 +02:00
Since 4.4
This functionality is available since version 4.4.


During an activity execution, failures can occur.

Although the words "error" and "failure" have their precise meaning in some contexts, we will use them here interchangeably and somehow freely. In this document they denote any midPoint-detected problems in processing, represented by appropriate operation status: either FATAL_ERROR or PARTIAL_ERROR.

Scope of Failures: the Whole Activity or Individual Objects

Some failures affect the whole activity. A typical example is misconfigured or unreachable resource when a reconciliation activity for that resource is run. These failures mean that no objects can be processed. They usually cause the whole task either to suspend, or to repeat its execution at defined time.

However, there can be also failures that are limited to individual objects. Some are caused by issues during provisioning of changes to a target resource. Others may be related to mapping evaluation, for example because of a programming error. Yet others are those related directly to the source objects, e.g. if there are major data quality issues that prevent these objects be processed.

This document deals with the latter category of failures, i.e. those related to individual objects.

We may need to define how the activity should behave when they occur, e.g. whether it has to stop immediately, or continue the processing. This is dealt with in the first part of this document.

However, we usually want to re-process objects that failed their regular processing. There are two available mechanisms for this: The first one is explicit re-processing of failed objects based on operation execution records. The second one is based on automatic scheduling of re-processing using triggers. (It is currently limited to synchronization of resource objects.)

Defining an Error Handling Strategy

The reaction of an activity to errors is defined in so-called error handling strategy. It is part of the activity control flow specification, defined under errorHandling item.

The strategy is basically a list of entries, each of which prescribes a reaction for given situation. Each entry has:

Table 1. An entry of error handling strategy
Item Description Default


Order in which this entry is to be evaluated. (Related to other entries.) Smaller numbers go first. Entries with no order go last.

No order.


A situation that can occur.

Any error.


What should a task do when a given situation is encountered?

ignore or stop (see below)

A situation contains the following:

Table 2. Definition of an error handling situation
Item Description Default


Operation result status to match. Can be either PARTIAL_ERROR or FATAL_ERROR.

If not present, we decide solely on error category. If error categories are not specified, any error matches.


Error category (network, security, policy, …​) to match. Note that some errors are not propagated to the level where they can be recognized by this selector. So be careful and consider this feature to be highly experimental.

If not present, we decide solely on the status. If status is not present, any error matches.

The reaction is either:

Table 3. Definition of an error handling reaction
Reaction Description Note


The processing should continue, ignoring the error. E.g. for live sync tasks, this means that the sync token is advanced to the next item, effectively marking the record as processed.

This is the default strategy for the majority of tasks.


The processing is stopped.

This is the default strategy for live sync and async update tasks.


Processing of the specified account should be retried later using a trigger. Available only for synchronization activities.

This strategy has more parameters.


  1. Names for these options may be changed in the future, to make them more compatible with error handling based on operation execution records.

  2. Operation execution recording is not influenced by these settings. So each error is recorded regardless of the value of reaction. This is why operation execution records based error handling works well with the default setting of ignore reaction (although by "ignoring" one can imagine that the error is not even recorded).

  3. Besides these options, you can specify also stopAfter property (applicable to ignore and retryLater reactions) that cause the activity to be stopped after seeing specified number of error situations.

Operation Execution Records


When an object is processed by an activity, an operation execution record is attached to the object.

There are two kinds of operation execution records: operation-level records (sometimes called "complex") and modification execution records (sometimes called "simple"). We now talk about the former ones.

That record carries an information whether the processing was successful or not. These records allow us to easily select failed objects for re-processing, without the need to go through all the objects.

How it Works

  1. A main task is run, processing a set of objects. Some of these objects encounter errors. The respective operation execution records are created for them.

  2. Then (when system administrator decides) another ("recoverer") task is run, aimed at re-processing of these erroneous objects. It has the following characteristics:

    1. Usually, it has the same type of activity as the main task. For example, if main task runs an import activity, then the recoverer runs usually an import activity as well.

    2. It operates on the same set of objects (specified e.g. by resource reference, object class, kind, intent, and/or a query) but with so-called failed objects selector added. This selector specifies e.g.

      1. result states that should be matched (e.g. fatal error, partial error, warning),

      2. reference to the main task(s),

      3. or the time interval when the error occurred.

    3. Other significant parameters, like specific bulk action to execute, should also match.

  3. The recoverer then goes through failed objects, according to the original set specification combined with failed object selector, and tries to process them. The errors occurring in this task can be later handled again.

Special Cases

  1. Although, in general, the recoverer runs the same type of activity as the main task, there can be situations when they differ. For example, the main activity can be a bulk action execution, and the recoverer can be a recomputation activity. Or the recoverer can use a different bulk action than was used in the main activity.

  2. In general, one recoverer is connected to one main task. However, there can be recoverers that treat multiple main tasks. Also, a recoverer can be the same task as the main one, with just the selector added.

Failed Objects Selector

This data structure is used to select objects that were failed to be processed in previous run(s) of this or other (compatible) activity. It is basically a specification of a filter against operationExecution records, looking for ones that indicate that a processing of the particular object by particular task failed.

Table 4. Configuring failed objects selector
Item Meaning Default

status (multi)

What statuses to select.


taskRef (multi)

What task(s) to look for?

The current task.


What is the earliest time of the record to be considered? This is important because the old execution records are not deleted automatically when an object is re-processed, unless one of the following occurs: either the recoverer task is the same as the main task (then the result is replaced by the new one), or a defined limit for operation execution records is reached. Then the oldest ones are purged.

Therefore, one has to set up this information carefully to avoid repeated processing of already processed objects.

No limit (take all records).


What is the latest time of the record to be considered?

If explicit task OID is not specified, then it is the last start timestamp of the current task’s root. (Just to avoid cycles in processing; although maybe we are too cautious here.) If the task is different one, then no limit is here (i.e. taking all records).


How are failed objects selected. This is to overcome some technological obstacles in object searching in the provisioning module. Usually there’s no need to override the default value.


Failed Objects Selection Method

Table 5. Failed objects selection method
Value Meaning


Default processing method. Normally narrowQuery. But when searching for shadows via provisioning, fetchFailedObjects is used.


Simply narrow the original query by adding failed objects filter. It works with repository but usually not with provisioning.


Failed objects are selected using the repository. Only after that, they are fetched one-by-one via provisioning and processed. This is preferable when there is only a small percentage of failed records.


Uses original query to retrieve objects from a resource. Filtering is done afterwards, i.e. before results are passed to the processing. This is preferable when there is large percentage of failed records.

An Example

Listing 1. An example of a recoverer task
<task oid="3a1fd36f-fbad-48bb-9178-dd9b7a2c2f5f"

    <name>Import from source (retry failures)</name>
    <ownerRef oid="00000000-0000-0000-0000-000000000002" type="UserType"/>
                    <resourceRef oid="a1c7dcb8-07f8-4626-bea7-f10d9df7ec9f" />
                        <taskRef oid="e06f3f5c-4acc-4c6a-baa3-5c7a954ce4e9" />


Another option is to automatically schedule any failed object for re-processing using triggers.

This mechanism is currently limited to synchronization tasks (import, reconciliation, live synchronization).

How it Works

  1. An error is encountered during processing of a resource object shadow in a task.

  2. If appropriate configuration is set, a trigger is created on the respective resource object shadow. It reminds midPoint that the shadow should be synchronized again. The time interval for the trigger is configurable.

  3. After specified time arrives, the Trigger scanner task retrieves the shadow and ensures that it is re-synchronized.

  4. If the repeated processing is successful, the process ends here. If not, another trigger (with an interval that may be the same or different) is set up, and the process repeats.

  5. If the process is not successful even after specified number of repetitions, the process ends.

How to Configure

Trigger-based re-processing is configured by setting up retryLater reaction in an error handling strategy. This reaction has the following properties:

Table 6. Properties of retryLater error handling reaction
Property Meaning The default


Initial retry interval.

30 minutes


Next retry interval, after initial attempt.

6 hours


Maximal number of retries to attempt.


An Example

Listing 2. An example of configuration of error handling strategy using triggers
<task oid="2d7f0709-3e9b-4b92-891f-c5e1428b6458"

    <name>Live Sync</name>

    <ownerRef oid="00000000-0000-0000-0000-000000000002"/>
                    <resourceRef oid="a20bb7b7-c5e9-4bbb-94e0-79e7866362e6" />
                            <!-- no retry limit -->

In this sample, after a generic error is encountered, the retry is attempted after 30 minutes. Next retries are done after 1 hour. The process stops after 4 attempts. However, if the error was configuration-related (with the status of FATAL_ERROR), then the initial interval is 1 day, with retries after 3 days, and without attempt limit.

Which Approach to Use

Each of the options described has its own strengths and limitations. These are summarized in the table below.

Table 7. Comparison of approaches to objects re-processing
Feature Operation Execution Records Triggers


Any kind of object processed by (almost) any task.

Shadows, processed by synchronization tasks.

Extra configuration required

Yes. A recoverer task should (usually) be set up, including careful specification of failed objects selector.

No. Trigger scanner takes care of everything. Only the retry strategy has to be set up in the main task.


  1. Trigger-based re-processing is available only for synchronization activities (import, reconciliation, live synchronization).

  2. Selection based on error category is highly experimental.

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