Chalk home page
  1. Development
  2. Frequently Asked Questions

Getting support

The questions are sorted by category. Don’t see your question answered? Please reach out via your support channel and we will be happy to help!

Data Sources and Infrastructure

What is the difference between the online store and the offline store?

The online store is intended to store features for low-latency retrieval in online query. Typically, the online store is implemented using Redis, DynamoDB, or (in some cases) Postgres.

The offline store is intended to store historical logs of all previously ingested or computed features. It is used to compute large historical training sets. It is typically implemented using BigQuery, Snowflake, or other data warehouses.

Can we do RBAC (Role Based Access Control) within Chalk?

Yes! Within the dashboard you can assign roles with different permissions to different users. The default roles available are shown below.

Network Architecture diagram

What are the necessary steps for us to get Chalk in our system?

Please reach out via your support channel and we’d be happy to walk you through how to get Chalk setup running on your cloud infrastructure!

We use Okta SCIM provisioning. Can we import these roles to be used in Chalk?

Yes! You can set up Okta to automatically provision and deprovision Chalk users. For more information on how, see here.

How should I set up secrets to be accessible in our deployed environments?

You can configure secrets as environment variables in the Secrets tab of Settings in your Chalk dashboard, and these secrets would then be available on the next deploy in the environments that you’ve specified, and on all branches in those environments!


Does Chalk have a feature catalog?

Yes! You can view all the features for all namespaces deployed in your environments, along with some metadata on recent activity and updates.

How should I use feature versioning?

You can define versions for features if, for example, you are iterating on feature definitions. We’d recommend setting a default feature version for ensuring consistency across feature references. For more information, please see this tutorial on feature versions

How does FeatureTime work? Should I override FeatureTime with timestamps from existing data sources?

Feature times act as observation timestamps for a set of feature values, which is important when working with staleness guarantees, and incrementally loading data. Chalk provides two default methods of loading feature times. The first is a feature annotation FeatureTime that serves as a datetime.datetime with typing.Annotation applied. The second is that if you define a feature named ts with a type of datetime.datetime in a feature set, then it will be treated as a feature time. You can override the feature time by supplying values for the ts feature if you would like to use the timestamps from your existing data sources as the observation timestamps for the feature. For more information on how feature times work, see here.

How should I structure my windowed features? What kind of windows can I use?

We recommend writing windowed features for aggregated computations over different time periods. You can define the different windows in terms of weeks, days, hours, minutes, or even seconds (weeks=“w”, days=“d”, hours=“h”, minutes=“m”, seconds=“s”). Under the hood, we normalize the time representations into durations in seconds, so you would have multiple syntactical options for accessing different windows for features. We recommend setting default values for windowed features in case there are windows with no events during the specified time period. Otherwise, you can write resolvers defining how your windowed features should be computed and pass windowed features as inputs into resolvers just like normal features!

Can I upload features into the online store with an API endpoint?

Yes! In addition to streaming and scheduled bulk ingests of features, you can submit requests using the upload_features SDK endpoints to synchronously ingest features into the online or offline stores using API clients.


What is the difference between an online and offline resolver?

Not much! The only difference is in which contexts the resolvers are executed. A few key scenarios:

  • in “online query” (i.e. queries submitted via .query, .query_bulk, multi_query), offline resolvers never execute.
  • in “offline query” (i.e. queries submitted via .offline_query), offline resolvers are preferred, taking precedence over online resolvers that compute the same features.
  • in offline query, online resolvers are permitted to execute

@offline is intended to be used for resolvers whose backing data sources are too slow or expensive to fulfill online query requests — i.e. data warehouses or certain API sources, but if your query requests can tolerate the latency of one of these slow sources, you can mark resolvers using those datasources @online to query them on-the-fly.

On the other hand, if your query requests can’t tolerate the latency of the underlying data store, evaluate using scheduled ingestion or streaming resolvers in order to ensure that fresh data is available in the online store.

How do I force certain resolvers to execute in my query?

Make use of tags=[...]. If a resolver is marked with a tag, it is only eligible to execute in queries that have a matching tag. An even stricter variant of this concept is available with the required_resolver_tags argument to query and offline_query which allows you to force all resolvers to have a particular tag.

How do I know when my resolver will run and when it will timeout?

You can set cron schedules for your resolvers, which will be parsed in your local system’s timezone. You can also set customized timeouts for resolvers. Chalk currently has a max timeout of 18 hours for resolvers, but if this does not suit your needs, please reach out to us in your support channel with a description of your compute needs for your resolver!

How do I know if my resolver is still running?

The best way to check if your resolver is still running is to see if there are still resources provisioned to run your resolver. For scheduled resolver runs, you can view an overview of Run History as well as a view of Cloud Resources dedicated to scheduled resolver runs under the Runs tab on the menu sidebar. For triggered resolver runs, you can also find which pod is running your resolver on the run page. Finally, if you navigate to Settings > Resources you can view all pods currently running in your cluster, whether for resolver runs or queries.

How should I work with dataframes in my resolvers?

You can define resolvers with DataFrame inputs or outputs, which uses the Chalk DataFrame structure. You can do some aggregations and projections using the Chalk DataFrame, but you can also convert the Chalk DataFrames into Pandas or Polars using .to_pandas() and .to_polars() for more data manipulation.


Can I query for two different feature classes in a single query?

We recommend creating a “root” feature class that models the interaction between the two entities — i.e. if need “customer” and “business” features for a transaction fraud model, you might create a class like this:

class AuthQuery:
    id: str
    A unique ID that represents this interaction; may be randomly generated if you have
    no natural ID in your system.

    customer_id: str
    customer: Customer = has_one(lambda: == AuthQuery.customer_id)
    A reference to the relevant customer.

    business_id: str
    business: Business = has_one(lambda: == AuthQuery.business_id)
    A reference to the relevant business.

Then, queries can be submitted using:

    input={ ..., AuthQuery.customer_id: ..., AuthQuery.business_id: ...

How do I query for multiple entities at the same time?

Use the .query_bulk SDK method instead of .query. For example, to query features for multiple Hospital entities, you might use:

result = ChalkClient().query_bulk(
    input={ [1,2,3,4,5]}
    output=[Hospital.current_waiting_time, Hospital.has_trauma_bay, Hospital.has_er, Hospital.has_mri]

df = result[0].to_pandas()

How do I tell if my offline query is still running if it shows as In Progress in the UI?

The first thing to check is whether there is a pod in your cluster running your offline query. You can verify this by viewing the pods running under Settings > Resources. If you’re running an offline query from a notebook, then the polling may timeout even if the offline query is still running, so the best way to verify the status of your offline query is a combination of checking the query run in dashboard and the status of pods in the cluster. For more visibility, you can also add the run_asynchronously=True argument to ChalkClient.offline_query to explicitly run your offline query on an isolated worker so you can use the worker status as a query status.


How are resources provisioned for my Chalk cluster, and can I modify the configuration?

We have default resource configurations for general environments. You can modify the configuration for your project’s cloud resources by modifying the specs under Settings > Resources > Advanced Resource Configuration. You must hit Save and Apply Changes in order for your configuration changes to go through. If you are not sure how you should configure your cloud resources, please reach out to us in your support channel!

Can I suspend or delete branches when they are not in use?

You cannot currently suspend or delete branches, but stale branches do not consume resources, so there is no cost or performance impact from old branches.

Observability and Testing

Is my (resolver / query) running?

See answers above under Resolvers and Querying respectfully!

How do I setup a sensor so that I can run something else after a resolver run?

If you are triggering a resolver run as part of an orchestrated pipeline, we usually see customers using the built-in sensors from the orchestrators (e.g. Airflow or Dagster) to poll for resolver completion. You can also customize this polling using an API to query run status. See here for an example of how to set up Airflow orchestration to trigger and poll a resolver run.


What have the people at Chalk been working on?

To get a glimpse of recently released features, take a look at our changelog!

I want to request a feature!

Feel free to reach out to us with feature requests or questions about feature requests in your support channel!