Data Transformation use case : Apache Spark and Databricks

Explore complex data transformations using Apache Spark, and push the results to Databricks for analysis. Enhance data engineering workflows by leveraging these powerful big data tools.


Jatin Solanki

Updated on

January 10, 2024


Hey there, fellow data engineers! Let's talk about two game-changers in the world of big data processing: Apache Spark and Databricks. In this article, we'll demonstrate a more complex transformation using Apache Spark and then showcase how to push the resulting data to Databricks for further analysis. So, strap in and get ready for a deep dive into big data processing!

Section 1: A Brief Introduction to Apache Spark and Databricks

1.1 Apache Spark Overview

Apache Spark is an open-source, distributed computing system that has gained popularity for its speed and versatility in processing large-scale data. Designed for big data analytics, it's ideal for tasks like running SQL queries, machine learning algorithms, and graph processing.

1.2 Databricks Overview

Databricks is a cloud-based data engineering platform that simplifies big data processing by providing a unified analytics workspace. Built on top of Apache Spark, it offers a user-friendly interface for data engineers and data scientists to collaborate and develop data pipelines, machine learning models, and perform advanced analytics.

Section 2: Setting up the Spark Job

2.1 Prerequisites and Environment Setup

Before we dive into the fun stuff, make sure you have the following tools and resources:

  • A Spark installation (preferably the latest version)
  • A Databricks account
  • Python and the PySpark library
  • An IDE or text editor of your choice

2.2 Creating the Spark Application

With our environment set up, let's create a new Spark application using Python and PySpark. Start by creating a new Python file (e.g., and import the required libraries:

2.3 Initializing the Spark Session

Now, let's create a Spark session, which is the entry point for any Spark functionality. Add the following code to your Python file:

2.4 Loading and Processing the Data

With our Spark session initialized, let's load some data and perform a complex transformation. For this example, we'll use a JSON file containing clickstream data from an e-commerce website. Load the data using the following code:

Let's say we want to calculate the most popular product categories by the total number of clicks, but we also want to apply a time decay factor to give more weight to recent clicks. We can achieve this using a combination of PySpark functions, including window functions and user-defined functions (UDFs).

First, define a UDF to calculate the time decay factor:

Next, apply the time decay factor to the click count, and calculate the total weighted clicks per product category:

Now we have a DataFrame with the most popular product categories based on the total number of weighted clicks, taking into account the time decay factor.

Section 3: Pushing the Data to Databricks

3.1 Setting up the Databricks Connection

To push our processed data to Databricks, we first need to set up a connection. Start by installing the `databricks-connect` library:

Next, configure the connection by providing your Databricks workspace URL, access token, and cluster details. You can find this information in your Databricks account. Set the required environment variables, as shown below:

3.2 Initializing the Databricks Connection

Once the connection is set up, we can connect to our Databricks workspace from our Spark job. Add the following code to your Python file:

3.3 Writing the Data to Databricks

With the Databricks connection established, let's write our processed data to a Delta table. Delta tables are a powerful feature of Databricks that provide ACID transactions, scalable metadata handling, and unified streaming and batch data processing.

First, create a Delta table in your Databricks workspace. You can do this using the Databricks UI or by executing the following SQL command:

Next, add the following code to your Python file to write the popular_categories DataFrame to the Delta table:

This code snippet writes the data to the specified Delta table in Databricks, overwriting any existing data and merging the schema if there are any changes.

Section 4: Analyzing the Data in Databricks

4.1 Querying the Delta Table

Now that our data is stored in a Delta table, we can easily query it using SQL or the Databricks UI. For example, to find the top 10 popular product categories by total weighted clicks, run the following SQL query:

4.2 Visualizing the Data

Databricks also provides a powerful visualization tool for analyzing your data. To create a bar chart of the top 10 popular product categories by total weighted clicks, follow these steps:

  1. Open the Databricks notebook containing your Delta table query.
  2. Select the `plot` icon in the query result panel.
  3. Choose the 'Bar' chart type and configure the chart settings as needed.
  4. Click 'Apply' to create the visualization.

You can now interact with the chart, share it with your team, or embed it in a dashboard for easy access.


In this article, we've demonstrated how to set up a Spark job to process large-scale data with a complex transformation and push the results to Databricks for further analysis. By leveraging the power of both Apache Spark and Databricks, data engineers can efficiently process and analyze massive amounts of data, enabling businesses to make data-driven decisions and gain valuable insights.

Remember, this is just the beginning of what you can achieve with Spark and Databricks. With a wide range of features and integrations, the possibilities are endless. So, get out there and start taming the big data beast!

Additional Resources

Check out these resources to further explore Apache Spark and Databricks:

These resources should provide a solid foundation for learning and working with Apache Spark and Databricks. Don't hesitate to explore more, as the big data ecosystem is vast and continuously evolving!

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