AWS Glue
Developer Guide

AWS Glue Concepts

The following diagram shows the architecture of an AWS Glue environment.

      The basic concepts populating your Data Catalog and processing ETL dataflow in AWS Glue.

You define jobs in AWS Glue to accomplish the work that's required to extract, transform, and load (ETL) data from a data source to a data target. You typically perform the following actions:

  • You define a crawler to populate your AWS Glue Data Catalog with metadata table definitions. You point your crawler at a data store, and the crawler creates table definitions in the Data Catalog.

    In addition to table definitions, the AWS Glue Data Catalog contains other metadata that is required to define ETL jobs. You use this metadata when you define a job to transform your data.

  • AWS Glue can generate a script to transform your data. Or, you can provide the script in the AWS Glue console or API.

  • You can run your job on demand, or you can set it up to start when a specified trigger occurs. The trigger can be a time-based schedule or an event.

    When your job runs, a script extracts data from your data source, transforms the data, and loads it to your data target. The script runs in an Apache Spark environment in AWS Glue.


Tables and databases in AWS Glue are objects in the AWS Glue Data Catalog. They contain metadata; they don't contain data from a data store.

AWS Glue Terminology

AWS Glue relies on the interaction of several components to create and manage your data warehouse workflow.

AWS Glue Data Catalog

The persistent metadata store in AWS Glue. Each AWS account has one AWS Glue Data Catalog. It contains table definitions, job definitions, and other control information to manage your AWS Glue environment.


The metadata definition that represents your data. Whether your data is in an Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) file, an Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS) table, or another set of data, a table defines the schema of your data. A table in the AWS Glue Data Catalog consists of the names of columns, data type definitions, and other metadata about a base dataset. The schema of your data is represented in your AWS Glue table definition. The actual data remains in its original data store, whether it be in a file or a relational database table. AWS Glue catalogs your files and relational database tables in the AWS Glue Data Catalog. They are used as sources and targets when you create an ETL job.


A program that connects to a data store (source or target), progresses through a prioritized list of classifiers to determine the schema for your data, and then creates metadata in the AWS Glue Data Catalog.


Determines the schema of your data. AWS Glue provides classifiers for common file types, such as CSV, JSON, AVRO, XML, and others. It also provides classifiers for common relational database management systems using a JDBC connection. You can write your own classifier by using a grok pattern or by specifying a row tag in an XML document.


Contains the properties that are required to connect to your data store.


A set of associated table definitions organized into a logical group in AWS Glue.


The business logic that is required to perform ETL work. It is composed of a transformation script, data sources, and data targets. Job runs are initiated by triggers that can be scheduled or triggered by events.


Code that extracts data from sources, transforms it, and loads it into targets. AWS Glue generates PySpark or Scala scripts. PySpark is a Python dialect for ETL programming.


The code logic that is used to manipulate your data into a different format.


Initiates an ETL job. Triggers can be defined based on a scheduled time or an event.

Development endpoint

An environment that you can use to develop and test your AWS Glue scripts.

Notebook server

A web-based environment that you can use to run your PySpark statements. For more information, see Apache Zeppelin. You can set up a notebook server on a development endpoint to run PySpark statements with AWS Glue extensions.

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