Spark SQL is a powerful tool within Azure Databricks for querying and analyzing large-scale datasets using SQL-like syntax. It integrates seamlessly with the Spark ecosystem, enabling efficient data processing and analysis for various scenarios.

Spark SQL in Azure Databricks

1. Accessing Azure Databricks:

  • Open the Azure Databricks workspace in your web browser.
  • Create a new cluster with appropriate configurations for your workload. This includes specifying the number of nodes, the amount of RAM and CPU per node, and the Spark version.
  • Once the cluster is created, you can access a notebook or create a new one to start working with Spark SQL.

2. Connecting to Data:

  • Spark SQL allows reading data from various sources, including:
    • Azure Blob Storage: Use the"csv").option("header", True).load("abfss://") command to read a CSV file.
    • Azure Data Lake Store: Similarly, use"adl://") to read a Parquet file.
    • Local Files: You can also read data from local files using paths accessible within the cluster.
  • Remember to specify the data format and any relevant options like header presence when reading data.


# Read a CSV file from Azure Blob Storage
df ="csv").option("header", True).load("abfss://")

# Read a Parquet file from Azure Data Lake Store
df2 ="adl://")

3. Exploring and Manipulating Data:

  • Use SQL-like queries to filter, sort, aggregate, and join data within DataFrames.
  • Spark SQL provides various built-in functions for data manipulation and analysis, such as avgmaxcount, and filter.


# Filter rows where age is greater than 25 and sort by city
df.filter("age > 25").orderBy("city").show()

# Calculate average and maximum salary per department
df.groupBy("department").agg(avg("salary"), max("salary")).show()

4. Joining DataFrames:

  • Combine data from multiple DataFrames based on specific join conditions.
  • Spark SQL supports various join types like innerouterleft, and right.


# Inner join two DataFrames based on the id column
df1.join(df2, ==, "inner").show()

5. Working with Views:

  • Create temporary or permanent views to store frequently used queries for later reuse.
  • This simplifies data access and avoids repeatedly writing complex queries.


# Create a temporary view of filtered data
spark.sql("CREATE TEMP VIEW customers_filtered AS SELECT * FROM customers WHERE active = true")

# Use the view in subsequent queries
spark.sql("SELECT * FROM customers_filtered ORDER BY name").show()

6. Saving Data:

  • After analysis, save the DataFrame data back to various storage locations in desired formats.
  • Spark SQL supports various data sources like CSV, Parquet, and JSON for writing data.


# Save DataFrame to a Parquet file in Azure Data Lake Store

7. Advanced Techniques:

  • Explore advanced Spark SQL features like:
    • Window functions: Perform calculations based on rows within a specific window.
    • Subqueries: Nest queries within other queries for complex data analysis.
    • User-defined functions: Extend Spark SQL capabilities with custom functions.
  • Integrate Spark SQL with other Spark libraries like:
    • MLlib: For machine learning and data science tasks.
    • GraphX: For graph processing and analysis.
  • Refer to the official Spark SQL documentation for comprehensive information and tutorials on advanced features and integrations.

Creating SQL Databases and Tables in Spark Azure Databricks

Azure Databricks provides a powerful platform for working with data using SQL and Spark. This includes creating and managing databases and tables, both managed and external.

1. Managed Tables:

Managed tables store data in a managed location controlled by Databricks.

Create Database:

  • Definition: Managed tables store their data and metadata within the Databricks workspace.
  • Benefits: Automatic data lifecycle management, optimized performance, ACID transactions (Delta tables).
  • Creating:
CREATE TABLE my_table (
  id INT,
  name STRING,
  age INT

2. External Tables:

  • Definition: External tables reference data stored outside the Databricks workspace, typically in cloud storage like Azure Blob Storage or ADLS.
  • Benefits: Flexibility to use existing data, data remains accessible even if the Databricks cluster is terminated.
  • Creating:
CREATE EXTERNAL TABLE my_external_table (
  id INT,
  name STRING,
  age INT
) LOCATION 'abfss://';

3. Viewing Metadata:

  • Databricks provides several ways to view table metadata:


  • Create a managed table:
CREATE TABLE customer_data (
  id INT,
  name STRING,
  city STRING

INSERT INTO customer_data VALUES (1, 'John Doe', 'Seattle');
INSERT INTO customer_data VALUES (2, 'Jane Doe', 'New York');

Create an external table:

  order_id INT,
  product_id STRING,
  amount DOUBLE
LOCATION 'abfss://'

View the metadata of a table:

DESCRIBE TABLE customer_data;