Importing Parquet files into CrateDB using Apache Arrow and SQLAlchemy

This tutorial introduces a way to import Parquet files into CrateDB using the Apache Arrow and SQLAlchemy libraries in Python.

What is a Parquet file?

Apache Parquet is a free and open-source column-oriented data storage format. It provides an optimized data storage and retrieval due to its efficient data compression, which is able to handle complex data structures in bulk. Even though for this tutorial we are going to use Python, Parquet files are compatible with multiple languages and data processing frameworks. Here it will be used to transfer data from a data storage to CrateDB.


The libraries needed are crate, sqlalchemy and pyarrow, so you should install them. To do so, you can use the following pip install command. To check the latest version supported by CrateDB, have a look at the CrateDB documentation - SQLAlchemy.

pip install pyarrow sqlalchemy-cratedb

In this tutorial we will use a Parquet file containing information from yellow taxi rides from January 2022 in New York, refer to this link to download the file. The creation of the table will be handled by sqlalchemy.

Getting started

Once everything is installed you should import the required resources as seen below.

import pyarrow.parquet as pq
from uuid import uuid4
from sqlalchemy.orm import scoped_session, sessionmaker, declarative_base
from sqlalchemy import Column, Integer, String, create_engine, DateTime, Float

The first step is to read the Parquet file which will be saved in the ny_taxi_parquet object.

parquet_path = 'yellow_tripdata_2022-01.parquet'
ny_taxi_parquet = pq.ParquetFile(parquet_path)

Now, make sure to set up the SQLAlchemy engine and session as seen below. If you are not using localhost, remember to replace the URI string with your own.

CRATE_URI = 'crate://localhost:4200'

Base = declarative_base()
session = scoped_session(sessionmaker())
engine = create_engine(CRATE_URI, echo=False)
session.configure(bind=engine, autoflush=False, expire_on_commit=False)

Creating the model.

Before processing the newly imported file, the corresponding Model must be created, this is the representation of the final table, if you are using a different dataset, adapt the model to your data. Remember that the attribute name is case sensitive, so in our example vendorID will have the same name in CrateDB’s table.

class TaxiTrip(Base):

    id = Column(String, primary_key=True, default=uuid4)
    VendorID = Column(String)
    tpep_pickup_datetime = Column(DateTime)
    tpep_dropoff_datetime = Column(DateTime)
    passenger_count = Column(Integer)
    trip_distance = Column(Float)
    PULocationID = Column(String)
    DOLocationID = Column(String)
    RatecodeID = Column(Integer)
    store_and_fwd_flag = Column(String)
    payment_type = Column(Integer)
    fare_amount = Column(Float)
    extra = Column(Float)
    mta_tax = Column(Float)
    improvement_surcharge = Column(Float)
    tip_amount = Column(Float)
    tolls_amount = Column(Float)
    total_amount = Column(Float)
    congestion_surcharge = Column(Float)
    airport_fee = Column(Float)

Now if we call:


It will create the table in CrateDB if it does not exist, if you change the schema after creating the table, it might fail, in this case you will need to rename the table in CrateDB and adapt the model, if the data doesn’t matter you can delete the table and re-create it.

For further details on how to use the SQLAlchemy with CrateDB, you can refer to the documentation here.

Next, we are going to process the parquet file by batches, this is the most efficient way of handling big amounts of data, the size of the batch will depend on the amount of rows and the specs of your machine, it is a good to try several batch sizes with a reduced dataset until you find a performance that makes sense for you.

The dataset that we are loading has ~2M rows, 60k rows seemed to perform well with our machine so we chose that number.

BATCH_SIZE = 60_000

for batch in ny_taxi_parquet.iter_batches(batch_size=BATCH_SIZE):
    batch_row = batch.to_pylist()


While the batches are processed, you should already see the new records in your CrateDB instance.


This tutorial provided one of many strategies to import Parquet files into CrateDB using Python, PyArrow and SQLAlchemy. To further understand how to fully explore SQLAlchemy in CrateDB, have a look at the documentation CrateDB documentation - SQLAlchemy or keep on exploring the tutorial topics presented on CrateDB Community.