Talend: Schema compatibility check

Most of the time when talking about Talend jobs, people think of standard ETL (Extract, Transform, Load). But in some cases there’s the need to check the incoming data before loading them into the target rather than just transforming it. We refer to this process as E-DQ-L (Extract, Data Quality, Load).

One of the things that you might want to check before loading is schema compatibility. For example: you expect to get a String that’s 5 long. If you, for any reason, receive a String that is larger than 5, it will generate an error. Or perhaps you expect a percent (in format BigDecimal like 0.19), but you receive it as a string (“19%”). This example will result into a failing job with an error saying “Type mismatch: cannot convert from dataType to otherDataType”.

Before I continue this blog I would like to emphasize that all the solutions below are possible with the Data Integration version of Talend, except for the last one. The last option requires a Talend Data Quality license.

Let’s create an example case: We want to extract data on a regular basis from a third-party source which we cannot fully trust in terms of schema-settings. We know how many columns we can expect and we have a rough idea of what it contains, but we do not fully trust the source to not give incompatible data. We want to load the records that are valid and we want to separately store the ‘corrupt’ data for logging purposes. I’ve gathered several solutions for this problem:

  1. Use rejected flow on an input-component

One thing you can do is reject the records as soon as you import them. Disable “die on error” on the basic settings tab of you input-component and then right-click it and select “Reject”. The rows will be rejected based on the schema of the file. In the example below we put phone number as an integer and as you can see 1 records is begin rejected. This is because the phone number contains characters and therefore cannot be read as an integer. If you did not disable the “die on error”-option then this component would make the job fail.

reject on input

  1. In case of the target being a database: use rejected links

You can also choose to directly input the data into your database, but to reject any rows that would create an error. You can then create a separate flow to determine what to do with these rejected records.

In your database output component (for example tOracleOutput) change the following:

  • Basic settings: Uncheck “Die on error”
  • Advanced settings: Uncheck “Use batch size”

Now, right-click on your component and select “Row-Reject” and connect it to an output-component. The output you’ll receive will be the rejected rows and what error would have been generated if you tried inserting them, as you can see in the picture below.

rejected rows databank

  1. Use a tFilter-component

You can make the data go through a filter-component before inserting it into your target. You can (manually) decide what’s allowed to go through. This can be useful when your destination is not a database, in which case option 1 is most likely not available.

Schema compatibilty check with tFilterRox

A tFilterRow-component also has the possibility to output the rejected rows, including the reason why they got rejected. You can enable this by right-clicking on your filter and selecting “Row-Reject”. An example of rejected rows by the filter:

rejected rows tFilterRow

Note – You can also use self-defined routines in the tFilterRow-component by checking “Use advanced mode”. This can be useful when you want to check whether or not converting is possible. For example: you could define a routine called “isInterger” that returns true if the conversion is valid and false if it’s impossible.

  1. Use a tSchemaComplianceCheck-component

Another way of making sure that your schema is compatible is by using the tSchemaComplianceCheck-component. Unfortunately, this component is only integrated in the Data Quality version of Talend.

It’s a very easy component to use. The only thing you have to do is connect the incoming data to the tSchemaComplianceCheck-component and then continue its flow to the destination source. You can get the rejected rows the same way as previously (by right clicking on it and then selecting “Row->Reject”).

tSchemaComplianceCheck job

The rejected rows and their error message look like this:

rejected rows tSchemaCompatibilty

That’s it for now. There’s probably a lot of other ways of checking schema compatibility. Feel free to comment if you know any. Thank you for reading!

Talend: tips and tricks part 2

In the first part of these entries we discussed how to test your expressions, the importance of optimizing the appearance of a tLogRow component and how to handle windows and views within Talend. This time around, we will be talking about the different ways to get components into your job, how to trace your dataflow and how to easily sync columns. As last time, this post will be useful for both starting and experienced users.

4. Getting components into your job

There are many ways to get components into your job. Most people search the palette (by either the search-function or by manually exploring the folders) and drag/drop the components into their job. You can achieve the same thing by simply clicking on a random place in your job and then type the name of the component. Obviously this is only recommended once you’re familiar with the different components and their names.

insert component

When working with metadata, you can use certain shortcuts to save a bit of time. Usually people just click on the metadata and then drop it onto their job. This will pop up a window allowing you to choose which type of component you want to use. Holding the Control-key while dragging the component will directly create an Output-component. Holding Control+Shift will result into an Input-component.

5. Syncing columns

Occasionally, you may have to change the schema of a certain component in the middle of development. This might affect other components in your job. In some cases, Talend asks if you want to propagate the changes you’ve made (to the other components).

propogate changes

You may accidently close this window, click “No” or not get this message at all, resulting in the following error: “The schema from the input link “youroutputlink” is different from the schema defined in the component”.

different schema error

When this happens, you can go to the basic settings of the component that has the error and click on “Sync columns”. The error should now be gone.

schema sync columns

6. Tracing your dataflow (Debug Run)

Lastly, I would like to say a few words about the debug run. In some cases we want to closely watch our dataflow in order to get a better understanding of what’s exactly happening. You can achieve this by running your job in debug mode. This can be done by clicking on the Run-window, then click on the “Debug Run” tab on the left side of the window and start it by clicking on “Traces Debug”.

debug run

The moment you open the “Debug run” tab, you’ll immediately see extra icons in your job. These magnifying glass icons indicate that details will be shown when you debug-run your job. The result should look something like this:

debug run example

You can Pause and Resume the run at any time. You can also add breakpoints if you like. Do this by right-clicking on a dataflow and then selecting “Show Breakpoint Setup”.

show breakpoint setup

This brings you to the “Breakpoint” tab of the data flow you clicked on. You can also go there by clicking on the specific flow and manually selecting “Breakpoint”. Let’s add a breakpoint to pause our run whenever we come across a record with “Bloom” as last name. Firstly, make sure to check the “Activate conditional breakpoint” option. After that, click on the plus-icon underneath the conditions. Then select the InputColumn we want to put our condition on, in our case this is “Last_name”, and add a value (“Bloom” in this example). The default Operation is “Equals”, which is the one we want. You can also specify an Operation if you need to, but this is unnecessary for this case.

component breakpoint properties

You can add multiple breakpoints if you like. Whenever you debug run your job now, it will stop at a record where the Last_name is “Bloom” (if any exist).

That’s it for now. Thank you for reading!

Talend: tips and tricks part 1

This blog contains some convenient tips and tricks that will make working with the open source tool Talend for data integration a lot more efficient. This blogpost will be especially useful for people who are just discovering this amazing tool, yet I am sure that people who have been using it for a while will also find it very helpful. These series of tips will be spread over multiple blog entries so make sure to check back often for future tips!

1. Testing expressions in the tMap component

Using the tMap component, you have the possibility to test your expressions. This way you can easily see whether or not the result is what you expected it to be. You can also use this to determine whether or not your expression will error. Let’s create an example.

We’ve got details of employees as input for our tMap. We would like the first name to be shown in uppercase. First of all, go into the expression builder by clicking the ellipsis next to your expression.

Ellipsis expression builder

To convert the first name to uppercase, we have to use the StringHandling function “UPCASE”. This will result in the following expression: StringHandling.UPCASE(employee.First_name)

After you’re done filling in test values, click on the “Test!” button and wait for the result. If everything goes as expected, you should see your first name in uppercase on the right side of the window.

Test expression builder tMap

2. Optimizing the appearance of the tLogRow component output

tLogRow is one of the most frequently used components. It is recommended that you learn how to optimize its use. Firstly, make sure that you always have the right appearance selected for your output. You can find this property in the basic settings of your tLogRow-component.

tLogRow modes

There are three types of Modes that you can choose between:

  • Basic

Basic will generate a new line for each record, separated by the “Field Separator” you’ve chosen (see image above). When using basic mode, I highly recommend to check the “Print header” option when working with multiple column records or multiple outputs, purely for visibility reasons.

basic mode output

  • Table (print values in cells of a table)

The table mode shows the records and their headers in a table-format, including the name of the component that generated this output (in our case: “tLogRow_1”). This emphasizes the importance of properly naming everything, especially when you have multiple components that generate output. In this case, it would have been better to rename our component to “EMPLOYEES”. Personally, I prefer this mode.

table mode output

  • Vertical (each row is a key value/list)

Vertical mode will show a table for each one of your records.

vertical mode output

The output mode you decide to use depends on what you’re trying to visualize. For example, when your goal is to show a single string, I would recommend using the basic mode. But when you have multiple table outputs (for example: departments, customers and employees in a single output), I’m certain the table mode would be the best option.

Sometimes your data is spread over multiple lines, resulting in an unclear output, like shown in the image below.

output with wrap

To force the output to put all the data on one single line, you can uncheck the “Wrap” option. This option is located underneath your output and will enable a horizontal scrollbar.

output without wrap

Do you also want to be able to get data regarding tweets using Talend, as shown in the image above? Read my previous blogpost and find out how!

3. Resetting windows and maximizing/minimizing them

Sometimes you accidently close a window and have a hard time finding a way to get it back. You can very easily reset your environment by clicking on “Window” – “Reset Perspective”.

reset perspective

You can see all of the views by clicking on “Windows” – “Show View” – “Talend”. Some of the views are not shown by default, such as “Modules”. Modules can be used to import .jar-files without having to restart your studio, which will most likely save you some time.

Lastly, because Talend is Eclipse-based, you have the possibility to maximize and minimize windows. I personally use this function when examining the output of a tLogRow-component including a lot of data. You can achieve this by either double-clicking on the window or by right-clicking on it and selecting “Minimize”/”Maximize”.

That’s it for now. I hope you enjoyed reading this blog and make sure to return soon for future blogs!

Use of contexts within Talend

When developing jobs in Talend, it’s sometimes necessary to run them on different environments. For other business cases, you need to pass values between multiple sub-jobs in a project. To solve this kind of issues, Talend introduced the notion of “contexts”.

In this blogpost we elaborate on the usage of contexts for easily switching between a development and a production environment by storing the connection data in context variables. This allows you to determine on which environment the job should run, at runtime, without having to recompile or modify your project.

To start using contexts in Talend you have two possible scenario’s:
1) you can create a new context group and its corresponding context variables manually, or
2) you can export an existing connection as a context.
In this example we’ll go over exporting an existing Oracle connection as a context.

Double click an existing database connection to edit it and click Next. Click Export as context

Image

NOTE There are some connections that don’t allow you to export them as a context. In that case you’ll have to create the context group and its variables manually, add the group/variables to your job, and use the variables in the properties of the components of your job.

After you’ve clicked the Export as context button you’ll see the Create/Edit context group screen. Enter a name, purpose and description and click Next.

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Now you’ll see all the context variables that belong to this context group. Notice that Talend has already created all the context variables that are needed for the HR connection. If you want to change their names you can simply click them and they become editable.

Click the Values as table tab.

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In the Values as table tab you can edit the values of the context variables by simply clicking the value and changing it. To add a new context, click the context symbol in the upper right corner.

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The window that pops up is used to manage contexts. To create a new context, click New, enter the name of the context, in our example Production, and click Ok. To rename the Default context, select it, click Edit, enter Development and click Ok. When you’re done editing, click Ok.

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After the window closes, you’ll see that an extra column appeared. Enter the connection data of the production environment in the Production column and click Finish.

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In the connection window it’s possible to check the connection again, but this time you’ll be prompted which connection you want to check.

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Verify that both the connections work and click Finish.

Now that we’ve exported the connection as a context, it’s possible to use it in a job. Create a new job, use the connection that has been exported as a context and connect it to a tLogRow component. Your job should look something like this

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When using a connection that has been exported as a context in a job, you have to include the context variables in order for your job to be able to run. Go to the context tab and click the context button in the bottom left.

NOTE When using one of the newer versions, Talend proposes to add missing context variables whenever you try to run a job, because of this you don’t need to add them manually as described in this example.

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Select the context group that contains the context variables, in our case the HR context group.

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Select the contexts you want to include and click OK

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NOTE A context group can also be added to a job by simply selecting the context from the repository, dragging it towards the context tab of the job, and dropping it there.

Once you’ve added the context group to the job, it’s possible to run the job for both the development and production environment by selecting the context in the dropdown menu of the Run tab.

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Connecting to Salesforce and Mailchimp using Talend

A lot of companies use Salesforce to manage their customers and contacts. In addition Mailchimp can be used for sending out mailings to these connections. Mailchimp also captures information about what people did with these mails. This can be useful information for your CRM. A while ago, I was asked to make a list of everyone that have opened their mails in Mailchimp. Let me show you how easy it is, to do something like that with Talend.

In Talend:

  • we can get a list of email addresses from Mailchimp of receivers that opened a mail
  • and we can ask Salesforce for the email addresses and names of all our connections
  • and we can also use a mapping component to join these lists.

Talend has a standard interface with Salesforce. And Mailchimp offers lots of RESTful web services, which we can make use of in our Talend job.

  1. Connecting to Salesforce  

Right click “Salesforce” under the Metadata and choose “Create Salesforce Connection”.

pic1

After choosing a name for our connection, all we need to fill in, is the username and password for our Salesforce-connection.  The rest is already filled in for us.

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To enable the “Finish” button, we need to check our properties first, using the button “Check login”.

Under Metadata, we can now browse through all our Salesforce-data.

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Now you’re probably wondering, how to use this data in your ETL-flow. Well.. that’s even easier!

Simply drag one of the tables (with the blue icons) into your job and choose for the “tSalesforceInput” component from it’s 3 suggestions.

pic4

After specifying the necessary mappings you should get something like this:

pic5

We’ve used Contact and Account data of Salesforce for this.

In the next part, let’s check out how we generated the list of email addresses.

2.       Connecting to Mailchimp

Accessing your Mailchimp-data, is a bit harder. We need two components from the Talend-palette:

The ‘tRest’ component,  because we need to use a RESTful webservice for requesting our data from Mailchimp. And the ‘tExtractJSONFields’ component for interpreting the data we receive back.

After dragging the tRest component to your job, choose ‘POST’ as the ‘method’ and fill in the URL, corresponding to the report you wish to receive.

pic6

If you want to receive your report in XML-format instead of JSON, just add “.xml” at the end of the URL.

Here we needed the Mailchimp report, that gives us information on opened emails.

If you are interested in other kinds of reports, you can find the list here:

http://apidocs.mailchimp.com/api/2.0/#lists-methods

Every request, needs certain parameters. We can specify them in the HTTP body field, like this:

“{\”apikey\”: \”your api key will be here\”,\”cid\”: \”put a campaign id here\”}”

The API-key will always be needed as the first parameter. You can find it in Mailchimp under your ‘Account Settings’  – ‘Extras’ .

pic7pic8

The second component we need, is called ‘ExtractJSONFields’. After dragging it to our job, we link our first component to it.

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We can use ‘Edit schema’, to define the data we want to extract.

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Finally all we need to do, is specify the location of this data we are interested in, for example the ’email’-field inside the ‘member’-field.

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Now that we’re able to access our data from Mailchimp, let’s take a look at how we used it for generating the list of e-mailaddresses.

First we asked Mailchimp for all our Campaigns, then we used the ‘flowToIterate’-component so we could ask Mailchimp for the email addresses, once for every campaign in the list:

pic12

Finally all we had to do, is put these two jobs together and press ‘run’.

So.. I hope you’ll enjoy it, as much as I did!