What Is Data Build Tool (DBT) And How Is It Different?

data build tool

What Is Data Build Tool (DBT) And How Is It Different?

Data plays a pivotal role in decision-making for all businesses. The sheer volume of it is so much; it can faze anybody. Handling this staggering amount of data and making it accessible to all becomes increasingly challenging with a continuously changing business environment. Disconnected sources, issues with data quality, and contradictory metric definitions and business elements create chaos. Furthermore, unnecessary efforts and poor quality of distributed information make for poor decisions.

So how does one make the best of a seemingly impossible situation? By transforming your data. It will allow you to clean, combine, remove duplicates, reorganize, and filter all your data. The transformation will enable your enterprise to develop useful and reliable insights via analytics and reporting. 

Today’s markets offer several tools to achieve data transformation. Yet, the one that clearly stands out, in particular, is dbt or the data build tool. The dbt tool will help you achieve the transform part of the ETL (extract, transform, load) process with relative ease and speed.

The Data Build Tool (dbt)

The Data Build Tool is a developmental framework or command-line tool that unifies modular SQL with the best practices of software engineering. What will this do, you wonder? It will make data engineering endeavors available to data analysts. In short, your data analysts become data engineers.

  • They will now be able to transform the data that resides in your warehouses using simple select statements.
  • They can also automate the testing (assessment and analysis) and implementation of the entire process that constitutes data transformation.
  • Any person who knows SQL will be able to build data pipelines and that too of production-grade. It will reduce the barrier that previously resulted in limited staffing resources and capacities for legacy technologies.

How dbt Differs From Other Tools

As mentioned right in the beginning, there are several transform tools available today, so why the Data Build Tool?

  • Data Build Tool can be used by anyone who has the knowledge and skill to write SQL select statements. Using this expertise, they can build data models, write tests, and plan jobs to deliver actionable, consistent, and reliable datasets to drive analytics. 
  • The dbt tool is like an orchestration layer over the data warehouse that enhances and increases the pace of your organization’s data transformation, including its integration.
  • Dbt works by performing all the calculations and computations at the very basic database level. So the complete task of data transformation is completed more rapidly, and securely all the while maintaining its integrity.

What Makes dbt Powerful?

1. Data Build Tool supports several databases like Snowflake, BigQuery, Postgres, Redshift, etc., and is easy to install using Python Package Installers or pip as it is more often called.

2. dbt is an open-source application written in Python, giving the users the power to customize it as needed.

3. A dbt user only needs to focus on writing select queries or models to reflect the business logic. You don’t have to write sections of repetitive code that are used occasionally with no variations. To be precise, it does away with the need for writing boilerplate code for creating tables and views and specifying the execution order of the written models. dbt takes care of it by:

  • Changing the models into objects that reside in your organization’s data warehouse.
  • Processing the boilerplate code to set up queries as relations.
  • Providing a mechanism for executing data transformations in an orderly and step-by-step form using the “ref” function.

4. It also offers a lot of flexibility to the users. Say, for example, the resultant project structure is not a match for your organizational needs. You can customize it by editing the dbt_project.yml file or the configuration file and rearranging the folders. 

Advantages Of dbt Tool

  • You can easily apply version control to it.
  • It is open source and hence customizable.
  • It does not have a steep learning curve.
  • It is well documented, and the documentation stays with the dbt project. It is automatically generated from the codebase.
  • No specific skill sets are required other than familiarity with SQL and basic knowledge of Python.
  • The project template is automatically generated through dbt init, standardizing it for all data pipelines.
  • Orchestrating a dbt pipeline involves the use of minimal resources as the data warehouse handles all computational work.
  • It allows the users to test the data and, in turn, ensures data quality.
  • A complex chain of queries can be debugged easily by splitting them into easy-to-test models and macros. 

Disadvantages Of dbt Tool

  • The Data Build Tool covers only the T part of ETL, so you will still need another tool or tools to perform the extract and load part to complete the sequence.
  • It is SQL-based and so offers less in terms of readability as compared to tools having an interactive UI.
  • Sometimes circumstances necessitate rewriting of macros used at the backend. Overriding this standard behavior of dbt requires knowledge and expertise in handling source code.
  • The UI will help you visualize the data transformation process, but it is up to the data engineers to keep it clean and comprehensible.

The Takeaway

Data Build Tool is the right choice for people interacting with data warehouses like data analysts, engineers, or scientists. To make full use of its exceptional capabilities, having knowledge of basic programming, especially “if statements” and “for loops,” will come in handy. The dbt tool allows data experts to transform the data stored in the organization’s data warehouses more effectively. They can test the transformation process and deploy modifications to visualize the needs every step of the way. Dbt shows you the manner in which data flows through the enterprise, all the while enriching the outcomes from other data and analysis technologies.

Data and analytics are what Oamii Technologies does and does the best. If your business is in need of our expertise, feel free to contact us at 561-228-4111. Our consultants will help you build a solid foundation to erect your ladder of success. Now is the time to undertake an enterprise data initiative to fuel your growth.