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As of January 31, 2021, this tutorial references legacy products that no longer represent Cloudera’s current product offerings.

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You will learn to perform rest calls against the NextBus API to retrieve transit data. You will replace the SimulateXmlTransitEvents Process Group data seed with a new processor that pulls in live stream data from San Francisco Muni Agency on route OceanView into the NiFi DataFlow.


  • Completed the prior tutorials within this tutorial series


If you prefer to build the dataflow manually step-by-step, continue on to Approach 1. Else if you want to see the NiFi flow in action within minutes, refer to Approach 2.

You will need to understand NextBus API, so that it will be easier to incorporate this API's data into the NiFi flow, which will be built in Approach 1.

Approach 1: Manually Integrate NextBus API into NiFi Flow

NextBus Live Feed API Basics

NextBus Live Feed provides the public with live information regarding passenger information, such as vehicle location information, prediction times on transit vehicles, routes of vehicles and different agencies (San Francisco Muni, Unitrans City of Davis, etc). We will learn to use NextBus's API to access the XML Live Feed Data and create an URL. In this URL we will specify parameters in a query string. The parameters for the tutorial will include the vehicle location, agency, route and time.

After viewing the Live Feed Documentation, we created the following URL for the GetHTTP processor:


Let’s break apart the parameters, so we can better understand how to create custom URLs. There are 4 parameters:

  • commands: command = vehicleLocations
  • agency: a=sf-muni
  • route: r=M
  • time: t=0

Refer to NextBus’s Live Feed Documentation to learn more about each parameter.

Step 1: Add GetHTTP to Make Rest Calls and Ingest Data via NextBus API

You will replace the SimulateXmlTransitEvents Process Group with GetHTTP processor.

1. Check the queue between SimulateXmlTransitEvents and ParseTransitEvents, if the queue has FlowFiles, then empty the queue. Right click on the queue, click Empty queue.


2. Right click on the queue again. Then press Delete.

3. Enter the SimulateXmlTransitEvents, then verify if other queues have FlowFiles and empty those queues. Once all queues are empty, step out of the Process Group.


4. Right click on SimulateXmlTransitEvents Process Group, select Delete to remove it. Add GetHTTP processor to replace SimulateXmlTransitEvents.

5. Connect GetHTTP to ParseTransitEvents. Verify success is checked under For Relationships. Click ADD.


6. Replace the text in the label above GetHTTP with the following: Ingest Real-Time Transit Data via NextBus API


2. Open GetHTTP Config Property Tab window. We will need to copy and paste Nextbus XML Live Feed URL into the property value. Add the property listed in Table 1.

Table 1: Update GetHTTP Properties Tab

Property Value
URL http://webservices.nextbus.com/service/publicXMLFeed?command=vehicleLocations&a=sf-muni&r=M&t=0
Filename live_transit_data_${now():format("HHmmssSSS")}.xml

3. Now that each property is updated. Navigate to the Scheduling tab and change the Run Schedule from 0 sec to 6 sec, so that the processor executes a task every 6 seconds.

4. Open the processor config Settings tab, change the processor's Name from GetHTTP to IngestNextBusXMLData. Click Apply button.

Step 2: Modify PutFile in StoreDataAsJSONToDisk Process Group

You will change the directory PutFile writes data to since data is coming in from the NextBus API live feed instead of the Simulator.

1. Open PutFile Configure Properties Tab. Change the Directory property value from the previous value to the value shown in Table 2:

Table 2: Update PutFile Properties Tab

Property Value
Directory /sandbox/tutorial-files/640/nifi/output/live_transit_data

Directory is changed to a new location for the real-time data coming in from NextBus live stream.

2. Click Apply. Then go back to the NiFi Flow breadcrumb.

Step 3: Run the NiFi DataFlow

Now that we added NextBus San Francisco Muni Live Stream Ingestion to our dataflow , let's run the dataflow and verify if we receive the expected results in our output directory.

1. Go to the actions toolbar and click the start button start_button_nifi. Your screen should look like the following:


2. Let's verify the data sent to the output directory is correct. Open the Data Provenance for the PutFile processor located in StoreDataAsJSONToDisk PG. Select View Data Provenance and View its content.

Did you receive neighborhoods similar to the image below?


Step 4: Explore Back Pressure for NextBus API Rest Calls

Back pressure allows us to specify the amount of data allowed to exist in the queue before the component that is the source of connection is no longer scheduled to run.

For example, let's see what happens when IngestNextBusXMLData processor runs at the fastest possible rate it can execute tasks.

1. Configure IngestNextBusXMLData under Scheduling tab, change Run Schedule = 0.


What impact does this place on the remaining dataflow? When you inspect the process groups, you'll notice some of the queues are being filled with a lot of data and the processor connected to it connect keep up with processing that data.

2. Jump into ParseTransitEvents process group, right between ExtractTimestamp and SplitXml, you will see the queue is becoming very large.


Note: We are able to see a percentage indicator bar on the left for the Back Pressure Object Threshold is Green, which means the queue is 0 - 60% full.


By default the queue can be filled with 10,000 objects or FlowFiles.

3. Right click on matched queue, click View configuration.


What happens when the queue reaches that threshold? Back pressure will be applied and the processor sourcing the data to the matched queue will deactivate.


  • the threshold of flowfiles that can be in the queue is 10,000

There is another configuration element for Back Pressure called Back Pessure Data Size Threshold. This configuration specifies the max amount of data (in size) that should be queued before back pressure is triggered. By default the max data size allowed in the queue before back pressure is applied is 1GB.

Note: Depending on your application, you may need to modify these values, so that more or less data is filled into a queue.

Approach 2: Import NextBusAPIIntegration NiFi Flow

Warning: If you Imported the Previous DataFlow, Read these steps first

1. In your process group, if there are any queues left with data, remove the data. Right click the queue, select Empty queue, click EMPTY.

2. Navigate back to the NiFi Flow breadcrumb level to delete your flow.

To delete your previous flow, hold command or ctrl and press A to highlight your dataflow, then press delete or backspace.

Import the New DataFlow Template

3. Download the tutorial-7-ingest-live-nextbus-api.xml template file. Then import the template file into NiFi.

4. Use the upload template icon upload_nifi_template located in the Operate Palette.

5. Browse, find the template file, click Open and hit Upload.

6. From the Components Toolbar, drag the add template icon add_nifi_template onto the graph and select the tutorial-7-ingest-live-nextbus-api.xml template file.

Warning 2: If you didn't Obtain Google API Key, then follow the steps

7. Refer to Step 1 in Approach 1 from the Validate the GeoEnriched Data Tutorial to obtain the Google API key and set up Google Places API: HTTP URL.

8. Once you have your own Google Places API Key, go into the ValidateGeoEnrichedTransitData process group, replace the InvokeHTTP processor's Remote URL property value with the new Google Places API: HTTP URL value.

9. Hit the start button start_button_nifi to activate the dataflow.


Overview of the NiFi Flow:

  • GetHTTP ingests real-time transit observation data from NextBus API

  • ParseTransitEvents (Process Group)

    • Input Port ingests data from SimulateXmlTransitEvents Process Group
    • ExtractTimestamp extracts the timestamp of the last update for vehicle location data returned from each FlowFile.
    • SplitXML splits the parent's child elements into separate FlowFiles. Since vehicle is a child element in our xml file, each new vehicle element is stored separately.
    • ExtractTransitObservations extracts attributes: vehicle id, direction, latitude, longitude and speed from vehicle element in each FlowFile.
    • Output Port outputs data with the new FlowFile attribute (key/values) to the rest of the flow
  • ValidateGooglePlacesData (Process Group)

    • Input Port ingests data from ParseTransitEvents Process Group
    • ValidateNextBusData checks the NextBus Simulator data by routing FlowFiles only if their attributes contain transit observation data (Direction_of_Travel, Last_Time, Latitude, Longitude, Vehicle_ID, Vehicle_Speed)
    • InvokeHTTP sends a rest call to Google Places API to pull in geo enriched data for transit location
    • EvaluateJSONPath parses the flowfile content for city and neighborhoods_nearby
    • ValidateGooglePlacesData checks the new Google Places data by routing FlowFiles only if their attributes contain geo enriched data (city, neighborhoods_nearby)
    • Output Port outputs data with nonempty FlowFile attributes (key/values) to the rest of the flow
  • StoreTransitEventsAsJSONToDisk (Process Group)

    • Input Port ingests data from ValidateGooglePlacesData Process Group
    • AttributesToJSON generates a JSON representation of the attributes extracted from the FlowFiles and converts XML to JSON format this less attributes.
    • MergeContent merges a group of JSON FlowFiles together based on a number of FlowFiles and packages them into a single FlowFile.
    • UpdateAttribute updates the attribute name for each FlowFile.
    • PutFile writes the contents of the FlowFile to a desired directory on the local filesystem.


Congratulations! You learned how to use NextBus's API to connect to their XML Live Feed for vehicle location data. You also learned how to use the GetHTTP processor to ingest a live stream from NextBus San Francisco Muni into NiFi!

Further Reading

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