DBT : Converting S3 Paths with DBT Macros Based on Environment Variables


In data engineering, it is common to work with cloud-based storage systems such as Amazon S3. Often, the location of your data in S3 may vary depending on the environment you are working in, such as development, staging, or production. DBT, a powerful data transformation tool, offers macros as a way to handle this variability in your data pipelines. In this article, we will explore how to create a DBT macro that converts an S3 path based on an environment variable.

  1. Understanding DBT Macros

DBT macros are reusable pieces of Jinja code that can be embedded in your SQL queries to perform various tasks. Macros are powerful as they can accept arguments and return a result, allowing you to create dynamic and flexible SQL queries. They can be especially helpful when working with different environments, as they can dynamically change your queries based on the environment you are working in.

  1. Configuring Environment Variables

To use environment variables in DBT, you will first need to define them in your project. This can be done using a ‘.env’ file or by setting them in your system environment. The following example sets an environment variable called ‘ENVIRONMENT’:

export ENVIRONMENT=development

Make sure to replace ‘development’ with the appropriate value for your environment (e.g., ‘staging’, ‘production’).

  1. Creating the DBT Macro

Next, create a new macro in your DBT project. In this example, we will create a macro called ‘get_s3_path’. This macro will accept a base S3 path and return the full S3 path depending on the environment variable.

{% macro get_s3_path(base_path) %}
  {% set env = env_var('ENVIRONMENT') %}

  {% if env == 'development' %}
    s3://dev-{{ base_path }}
  {% elif env == 'staging' %}
    s3://staging-{{ base_path }}
  {% elif env == 'production' %}
    s3://prod-{{ base_path }}
  {% else %}
    {{ exceptions.raise_compiler_error('Invalid environment: ' ~ env) }}
  {% endif %}
{% endmacro %}
  1. Using the Macro in Your DBT Model

Now that you have created the ‘get_s3_path’ macro, you can use it in your DBT models to generate the appropriate S3 path based on the environment variable.

Example usage:

WITH source_data AS (
  FROM my_external_table_function('{{ get_s3_path("my-fresher-in-bucket/data.csv") }}')


In this example, the ‘my_external_table_function’ is a placeholder for your actual external table function or data loading mechanism.

DBT macros provide a powerful way to manage environment-specific configurations in your data pipelines. By creating a macro to convert S3 paths based on environment variables, you can ensure that your DBT models dynamically adjust to different environments without having to manually change the code. This approach results in more maintainable and flexible data pipelines that can easily adapt to the needs of your organization.

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