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Job Writing & Customizing Automated Jobs

Please note:

  • We recommend using the OpenFn Job Studio IDE or a code editor like VS Code if editing locally on your computer.
  • If not using the Job Studio IDE and available in-line documentation on different OpenFn adaptors and helper functions, check out the relevant adaptor’s repository like language-postgresql for docs and examples.
  • These examples are based on the Vegetation form mapping.
  • For the auto-generated Vegetation job, see Github version here for the auto-generated job and see the OpenFn view.

1. Changing field & table names

When generating a destination database output, the automation solution will automatically use Kobo question names as DB columns names.

  • For example, in our Kobo “Vegetation” form we have the question plot_number –> OpenFn will generate the destination DB column name plot_number.
  • Therefore the field mapping in this auto-generate job is: plot_number: dataValue('plot_number'),

To quickly re-map this Kobo question to a different database column, you can “find + replace” (use ctrl + F to find) to more quickly update the DB column names in the mappings.

  • For example, if the auto-generated job mapping is: plot_number: dataValue('plot_number'), but your destination column name is PlotNumber (instead of plot_number)…
  • You might ctrl + F to search for plot_number: dataValue('plot_number') (see cell G22), and then…
  • Replace with the desired mapping (see cell H22): PlotNumber: dataValue('plot_number')

2. Mapping many:1 relationships/ look-ups in a relational database

If you are inserting records in child tables that look-up parent tables via a foreign key, consider the following mapping approach:

  1. If the look-up values are fairly set and you don’t expect the records in the parent table to change frequently, you might build a “mapping” object in our job to capture how Kobo values should map to DB values. See the example surveyTypeMap in the Arcadia jobs. For example, if hoping to map WCSPROGRAMS_VegetationDrainageID: dataValue('drainage') where WCSPROGRAMS_VegetationDrainageID is the foreign key to a parent table called WCSPROGRAMS_VegetationDrainage, you might…
  2. Build the mapping within alterState(...) to reassign the Kobo choice values with the relevant database Ids.
    alterState(state => {
     const drainageMap = {
         welldrained: '1',
         impended: '2',
         seasonally_impended: '3'
         //kobo_choice: foreignKeyId 
  3. Then modify the job field mapping to apply this transformation to any incoming Kobo data value.
    upsert('WCSPROGRAMS_Vegetation', 'GeneratedUuid', {
     GeneratedUuid: dataValue('__generatedUuid'),
     WCSPROGRAMS_VegetationDrainageID: state =>

    Note: This option works well for Kobo choice and database ID values that do not change frequently. If the values do change a lot, you may need to regularly update the job, or consider the approach below.

3. Mapping m:1 relationships that frequently change & executing SQL queries to look-up existing data

If you need to look-up the Ids of data in related parent tables before you insert records, consider first running a sql(...) query to find related data in parent tables to then reference in your mappings. See example job below for cell H15 mapping.

alterState(state => {
    const { data } = state;
    //search for existing WCSPROGRAMS_VegetationTopographgyID using the Kobo choice value to look-up and match against Name
    return sql(
        state => `select WCSPROGRAMS_VegetationTopographyID from WCSPROGRAMS_VegetationTopography where WCSPROGRAMS_VegetationTopographyName = '${data.topography}'`
        .then(({ response }) => {
          console.log('WCSPROGRAMS_VegetationTopographyID found:', response);
          const topography = response.body.rows[0]; //return the first record found

    return upsert('WCSPROGRAMS_Vegetation', 'GeneratedUuid', {
        GeneratedUuid: dataValue('__generatedUuid'),
        WCSPROGRAMS_VegetationTopographyID:  topography[0].value, //map ID value returned by sql query above

The Arcadia job also includes several examples of this pattern using sql(...) queries - see example

4. Mapping many:many relationships

When inserting a record that has a m:m relationship with 2 or more parent tables, you may need to run multiple sql(...) queries to look-up the parent id of each table you might want to map to. See below example job code for the WCSPROGRAMS_VegetationVegetationObserver m:m mapping (see cell F14).

alterState(state => {

    //SQL query #1 to look-up parent WCSPROGRAMS_Vegetation via AnswerId
    return sql({
        query: `
      FROM WCSPROGRAMS_Vegetation
      WHERE AnswerId = '${}'`,
    })(state).then(state => {
        const answerId = state.fetchFromRef(state.references[0]);

         //SQL query #2 to look-up parent WCSPROGRAMS_Vegetation via AnswerId
        return sql({
            query: `
          SELECT WWCSPROGRAMS_VegetationObserverID
          FROM WWCSPROGRAMS_VegetationObserver
          WHERE WWCSPROGRAMS_VegetationObserverName = '${}'`,
        })(state).then(({response}) => {
            const observerId = response.body.rows[0];

            //now upsert the m:m table and fill in foreign keys
            return upsertMany(
                state =>
           => {
                        return {
                            WWCSPROGRAMS_VegetationID: answerId[0].value, //fk found via sql query #1
                            WWCSPROGRAMS_VegetationObserverID: observerId[0].value, //fk found via sql query #2


This Arcadia m:m example shows how one foreign key column is set by running a sql() query to find the parent record (see WCSPROGRAMS_ProjectAnnualDataPlanID), while the second foreign key column is using surveyTypeMap.

5. Repeat groups

For repeat groups, make use of helper functions like upsertMany(...) or each(...) (see the Arcadia repeat group example.

//For every item in the repeat group...
   alterState(state => {
    const surveysGroup =; //assign the group a name

    return upsert(
          AnswerId:, //this value lives outside the repeat group, so we use
          ColumnName: surveysGroup['repeatGroupName/fieldName'], //we use this path when mapping fields that live within repeat group
          CollectionStartDate: surveysGroup['repeatGroupName/data_collection_start'], 
          CollectionEndDate: surveysGroup['repeatGroupName/data_collection_end'],

If you need to execute a sql query before you map your data in order to find the Ids of data in related tables, include your sql(...) query within your alterState(...). See below example for the st_grass_repeat/grass_species m:m mapping (see row 56).

each( //for every item in the st_grass_repeat repeat group
    alterState(state => {
      const grassRepeat =; //rename repeat group
      const { body } = state;
      //Find parent WCSPROGRAMS_TaxaID via WCSPROGRAMS_TaxaName
      return sql({
        query: `
        WHERE DataSetUUIDID = '${grassRepeat[`st_grass_repeat/grass_species`]}'`,
      })(state).then(({response}) => {
            const taxaId = response.body.rows[0];
        return upsert(
            DataSetUUIDID: body._id,
            WCSPROGRAMS_TaxaID: taxaId[0].value, //FK found in sql query

If you want to make use of upsertMany, see below example…

alterState(state => {
  const { st_grass_repeat } = state.body;

  const grassSpeciesString = => grass.grass_species).joint("','");
  return sql({
        query: `
        WHERE DataSetUUIDID in ('${grassSpeciesString}')`,
      })(state).then(({ response }) => {
        const taxaIdRecords = response.body.rows;

        const findTaxaIDRecord = pd =>
          taxaIdRecords.find(v => v.WCSPROGRAMS_TaxaID === pd.taxaId);

        const taxaIdData = st_grass_repeat
          .filter(x => findTaxaIDRecord(x))
          .map(taxadata => {
            const data = {
              DataSetUUIDID: taxadata._id,
              WCSPROGRAMS_TaxaID: findTaxaIDRecord(taxadata).id, //FK found in sql query
            return data;
        return upsertMany(


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