How to emulate temporary tables in Athena

This article is a part of my "100 data engineering tutorials in 100 days" challenge. (96/100)

Currently (I wrote this article in October 2020), Athena does not support temporary tables, but we can easily emulate them using the CREATE TABLE AS SELECT statements:

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CREATE TABLE some_temp_table 
    WITH (format = 'PARQUET') 
    AS SELECT column_A, column_B, column_C
    FROM source_table;

Unfortunately, we have to remember about removing the table when we no longer need it.

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DROP TABLE some_temp_table

If we don’t specify the S3 location, Athena will use the default results bucket as the storage location. I think it is good enough in the case of a temporary table.

Note that I used Parquet as the storage file type. In general, you should pick a file format that is best for the operations you want to perform later. Parquet is a columnar storage file that stores metadata about the content to scan and find the relevant data quickly.

Because the table we create is just a regular table, we can also use partitioning:

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CREATE TABLE some_temp_table 
    WITH (
        format = 'PARQUET',
        partitioned_by = ARRAY['column_A']) 
    ) 
    AS SELECT column_A, column_B, column_C
    FROM source_table;

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Bartosz Mikulski

Bartosz Mikulski

  • Data/MLOps engineer by day
  • DevRel/copywriter by night
  • Python and data engineering trainer
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  • Contributed a chapter to the book "97 Things Every Data Engineer Should Know"
  • Twitter: @mikulskibartosz
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