Working with views - Amazon Athena

Working with views

A view in Amazon Athena is a logical table, not a physical table. The query that defines a view runs each time the view is referenced in a query.

You can create a view from a SELECT query and then reference this view in future queries. For more information, see CREATE VIEW.

When to use views?

You may want to create views to:

  • Query a subset of data. For example, you can create a view with a subset of columns from the original table to simplify querying data.

  • Combine multiple tables in one query. When you have multiple tables and want to combine them with UNION ALL, you can create a view with that expression to simplify queries against the combined tables.

  • Hide the complexity of existing base queries and simplify queries run by users. Base queries often include joins between tables, expressions in the column list, and other SQL syntax that make it difficult to understand and debug them. You might create a view that hides the complexity and simplifies queries.

  • Experiment with optimization techniques and create optimized queries. For example, if you find a combination of WHERE conditions, JOIN order, or other expressions that demonstrate the best performance, you can create a view with these clauses and expressions. Applications can then make relatively simple queries against this view. If you later find a better way to optimize the original query, when you recreate the view, all the applications immediately take advantage of the optimized base query.

  • Hide the underlying table and column names, and minimize maintenance problems if those names change. In that case, you recreate the view using the new names. All queries that use the view rather than the underlying tables keep running with no changes.

Supported actions for views in Athena

Athena supports the following actions for views. You can run these commands in the query editor.

Statement Description
CREATE VIEW

Creates a new view from a specified SELECT query. For more information, see Creating views.

The optional OR REPLACE clause lets you update the existing view by replacing it.

DESCRIBE VIEW

Shows the list of columns for the named view. This allows you to examine the attributes of a complex view.

DROP VIEW

Deletes an existing view. The optional IF EXISTS clause suppresses the error if the view does not exist.

SHOW CREATE VIEW

Shows the SQL statement that creates the specified view.

SHOW VIEWS

Lists the views in the specified database, or in the current database if you omit the database name. Use the optional LIKE clause with a regular expression to restrict the list of view names. You can also see the list of views in the left pane in the console.

SHOW COLUMNS

Lists the columns in the schema for a view.

Considerations for views

The following considerations apply to creating and using views in Athena:

  • In Athena, you can preview and work with views created in the Athena Console, in the AWS Glue Data Catalog, if you have migrated to using it, or with Presto running on the Amazon EMR cluster connected to the same catalog. You cannot preview or add to Athena views that were created in other ways.

  • If you are creating views through the AWS GlueData Catalog, you must include the PartitionKeys parameter and set its value to an empty list, as follows: "PartitionKeys":[]. Otherwise, your view query will fail in Athena. The following example shows a view created from the Data Catalog with "PartitionKeys":[]:

    aws glue create-table --database-name mydb --table-input '{ "Name":"test", "TableType": "EXTERNAL_TABLE", "Owner": "hadoop", "StorageDescriptor":{ "Columns":[{ "Name":"a","Type":"string"},{"Name":"b","Type":"string"}], "Location":"s3://xxxxx/Oct2018/25Oct2018/", "InputFormat":"org.apache.hadoop.mapred.TextInputFormat", "OutputFormat": "org.apache.hadoop.hive.ql.io.HiveIgnoreKeyTextOutputFormat", "SerdeInfo":{"SerializationLibrary":"org.apache.hadoop.hive.serde2.OpenCSVSerde", "Parameters":{"separatorChar": "|", "serialization.format": "1"}}},"PartitionKeys":[]}'
  • If you have created Athena views in the Data Catalog, then Data Catalog treats views as tables. You can use table level fine-grained access control in Data Catalog to restrict access to these views.

  • Athena prevents you from running recursive views and displays an error message in such cases. A recursive view is a view query that references itself.

  • Athena displays an error message when it detects stale views. A stale view is reported when one of the following occurs:

    • The view references tables or databases that do not exist.

    • A schema or metadata change is made in a referenced table.

    • A referenced table is dropped and recreated with a different schema or configuration.

  • You can create and run nested views as long as the query behind the nested view is valid and the tables and databases exist.

Limitations for views

  • Athena view names cannot contain special characters, other than underscore (_). For more information, see Names for tables, databases, and columns.

  • Avoid using reserved keywords for naming views. If you use reserved keywords, use double quotes to enclose reserved keywords in your queries on views. See Reserved keywords.

  • You cannot use views created in Athena with federated data sources, external Hive metastores, or UDFs. For information about working with views created externally in Hive, see Working with Hive views.

  • You cannot use views with geospatial functions.

  • You cannot use views to manage access control on data in Amazon S3. To query a view, you need permissions to access the data stored in Amazon S3. For more information, see Access to Amazon S3.

  • You cannot use views with governed tables.

  • You cannot use views with cross-account data catalogs. For information about cross-account data catalog access, see Cross-account access to AWS Glue data catalogs.

Working with views in the console

In the Athena console, you can:

  • Locate all views in the left pane, where tables are listed.

  • Filter views.

  • Preview a view, show its properties, edit it, or delete it.

To show the actions for a view

A view shows in the console only if you have already created it.

  1. In the Athena console, choose Views, and then choose a view to expand it and show the columns in the view.

  2. Choose the three vertical dots next to the view to show a list of actions for the view.

    
                        The actions menu for a view.
  3. Choose actions to preview the view, insert the view name into the query editor, delete the view, see the view's properties, or display and edit the view in the query editor.

Creating views

You can create a view in the Athena console by using a template or by running an existing query.

To use a template to create a view

  1. In the Athena console, next to Tables and views, choose Create, and then choose Create view.

    
                        Creating a view.

    This action places an editable view template into the query editor.

  2. Edit the view template according to your requirements. When you enter a name for the view in the statement, remember that view names cannot contain special characters other than underscore (_). See Names for tables, databases, and columns. Avoid using Reserved keywords for naming views.

    For more information about creating views, see CREATE VIEW and Examples of views.

  3. Choose Run to create the view. The view appears in the list of views in the Athena console.

To create a view from an existing query

  1. Use the Athena query editor to run an existing query.

  2. Under the query editor window, choose Create, and then choose View from query.

    
                        Choose Create, View from
                                query.
  3. In the Create View dialog box, enter a name for the view, and then choose Create. View names cannot contain special characters other than underscore (_). See Names for tables, databases, and columns. Avoid using Reserved keywords for naming views.

    Athena adds the view to the list of views in the console and displays the CREATE VIEW statement for the view in the query editor.

Notes

  • If you delete a table on which a table is based and then attempt to run the view, Athena displays an error message.

  • You can create a nested view, which is a view on top of an existing view. Athena prevents you from running a recursive view that references itself.

Examples of views

To show the syntax of the view query, use SHOW CREATE VIEW.

Example 1

Consider the following two tables: a table employees with two columns, id and name, and a table salaries, with two columns, id and salary.

In this example, we create a view named name_salary as a SELECT query that obtains a list of IDs mapped to salaries from the tables employees and salaries:

CREATE VIEW name_salary AS SELECT employees.name, salaries.salary FROM employees, salaries WHERE employees.id = salaries.id

Example 2

In the following example, we create a view named view1 that enables you to hide more complex query syntax.

This view runs on top of two tables, table1 and table2, where each table is a different SELECT query. The view selects columns from table1 and joins the results with table2. The join is based on column a that is present in both tables.

CREATE VIEW view1 AS WITH table1 AS ( SELECT a, MAX(b) AS the_max FROM x GROUP BY a ), table2 AS ( SELECT a, AVG(d) AS the_avg FROM y GROUP BY a) SELECT table1.a, table1.the_max, table2.the_avg FROM table1 JOIN table2 ON table1.a = table2.a;